I admit it—if I do not have a list of tasks in front of me to check off as I work throughout the day, I am not productive. Is this because I am an engineer? Maybe. However, I can tell you that doing this dramatically increases my productivity level, and in this post I will share some reasons why. The checklist method, so to speak, has enabled me to get about 12 hours of work done in an eight-hour day. I have measured this based on past experience and discussions with other engineers.
Here are five reasons why having all of your tasks laid out in front of you helps you accomplish more:
Facilitates Delegation – When you can view all of your tasks, you can easily identify which of them can be delegated to staff or other team members. This should be done first thing in the morning, so they can accomplish these tasks while you work on others.
Simplifies Prioritization – When you have a dashboard (whether it be online or on paper) that allows you to easily view all of your to-do items, it’s easier to prioritize them. This is critical, because if it’s not done properly, you might be working on a task that is much less important than three or four other ones on your list, which can really hamper overall productivity.
Eliminates Mishaps – When you work at a fast pace, you have to be sure you don’t miss things. Having all of your tasks in front of you ensures that you can see everything and nothing will escape your mind. When you work off the cuff and deal with things as they arise, other things get missed. Missing things can be especially dangerous as an engineer, when your work often has impacts on the health and safety of the public (e.g., roadway and/or bridge design).
Alleviates Overwhelming Feelings – For me, when I have a lot of things to do (which is every day), I tend to get flustered or overwhelmed. Usually, after listing and prioritizing all of my tasks, I immediately feel better and get myself into a better state for working and being productive. This certainly doesn’t decrease the number of tasks on my plate, but it makes me feel more in control of them, and that matters a lot.
Boosts Confidence – Nothing makes me feel better than physically crossing a task off my list when completed. The feeling of accomplishment inspires me to jump head on into the next task and keep moving full steam ahead. Like the last, this is probably more of an emotional benefit, but I believe it goes a long way in keeping my productivity high.
Okay, now I can check off writing my weekly blog post and move on to the next task on my list. I hope this post helps you stay productive as an engineer, whether you share this same checklist need or not.
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
The Engineering Career Coach
Author of Engineer Your Own Success