Time Management Tips From Seven Elite Engineers

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Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want.The Women in Engineering Leadership Summit ran in Sydney recently and 6 successful senior engineering executives gave their top tier tips on time management…

Notifications off!

John Flecker, CEO, Brookfield Multiplex

“I actually have my phone on silent at all time to make sure I’m always present and not distracted from notifications.”

“I was taught this a few years ago and I’ve stuck by it since. Turn your email notifications off on your computer so if you’re sitting at your desk you should have absolutely no idea you have received anything. People are too easily distracted and when that notification pops up it sends you off track. It’s simple but effective. You can apply this to your phone when you’re really busy and need to focus.”

Question meetings

David Owen, GM Engineering, Rio Tinto:

“When you’re invited to a meeting, always question it and make sure it’s not going to waste your time.

If you don’t need to do it, it’s halfway out the door already. If you don’t want to do it, you might be able to delegate it to somebody else and it might be a good development opportunity for them. This helps you control your time and free up some space.

If you’re asked to a meeting, always ask what do you want from me? What’s the objective of this meeting? And is there anything I can prepare? If the answers clearly make your day more effective and productive then it’s a go!”

Have a plan

Kerry Lunney Technical Director Chief Engineer Thales Australia

“Having a clear plan from the start makes any process much easier in the long run. You don’t waste time down the track trying to get things back on course because you know where you should be.”

Give yourself a break

Bianca Diffin, Senior Project Manager APP Corporation

Schedule short breaks into your day. This is particularly important for effective time management if you are working at a computer or doing other work requiring high levels of concentration. It will boost your energy, improve your concentration levels and keep you healthy.”

Write everything down

Felicity Sist, GM and Director of Infrastructure, Bass Coast Shire Council

“I always make sure I write every little thing down. I constantly have my diary on me and manage my time the old school way, with a good old pen and paper.”

Research shows that writing things down not only helps you by providing a handy list of tasks to reference, but even the process of writing priorities down makes it more likely that you’ll remember everything that needs to be done.

Keep things organised

Narelle Clark Deputy, CEO, ACCCAN

“Once you get organised, stay that way! If you have everything where you need it – a healthy arrangement of notes, reference guides and all the office supplies you’ll need at your beck and call – don’t be tempted to let things slide. Otherwise, you’ll find that once you start the slide towards disorganisation, it’s hard to stop. Your time is too valuable to be wasted on reorganisation – so instead, focus on kerbing the disorganisation as it happens.”


Mairead Hogan, Senior Mechanical Engineer, Jacobs

“Keep in mind that it’s a good idea to check in with yourself every so often in order to gauge how well you are managing your time. You can do this by examining your day, your week or your month – whatever interval works best for you. During these time management evaluations, ask yourself if you’ve been routinely accomplishing all the goals you’ve set. If you haven’t lived up to your potential, make a list of all the different ways you can rectify the situation.”

Being an effective time manager isn’t easy, given the constant struggle we all face against distraction and disorganisation. But with these time management tips, you can begin your journey on the road to optimal time management skills – no matter how disorganised you were to begin with. Take these pieces of advice to heart and your career prospects will thank you.

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