Without the proper time management skills, employees in every industry struggle to fulfill their job responsibilities in a timely fashion. In fact, the average employee spends three minutes working before switching tasks and two hours recovering from daily distractions.
For engineers in the LNG industry, time management is especially important in order to stay on top of projects and meet strict deadlines.
Here are eight time management tips specifically intended for engineers who work in or are looking to join the LNG industry.
1. Stay Organized
Since each day in the LNG field can be different, staying on top of your varying responsibilities is key for proper time management.
One of the best ways to stay organized is with a tried-and-true to-do list. This helps you visualize your priorities and avoid wasting time figuring out what you should do next. Plan the work, and then work the plan. The engineers at CHI use handwritten lists or Microsoft OneNote to record everything they need to do that day, week or month. They organize tasks into 3-day, 3-week or 3-month timeframes in order to differentiate between levels of task urgency.
To start your week off right, take some time on Monday morning to digest everything that happened last week including any projects that didn’t get where they needed to be. Then, look at what’s on deck for the current week and add those projects to your list. This will help you avoid forgetting tasks and can help you prepare for upcoming projects.
2. Expect Interruptions
It’s nearly impossible in any job not to have some type of distraction. In fact, the average employee experiences 56 interruptions a day! While you might not be able to plan for distractions, a general expectation of what could possibly come up can help your time management.
If you’re on-site at a project, you’ll likely encounter more interruptions than in a more predictable office environment. There is a heightened level of importance associated with many LNG projects, which means urgent matters can arise and take priority over literally everything else you have going on that day.
When you’re planning your days and weeks, leave a little bit of wiggle room in case something pops up. If you’re on-site, allow gaps in between your priorities so they don’t stack up on top of each other. If you need the extra time, you’ll have prepared for it. If you don’t need the extra time, then you can use it to tackle the other items on your list proactively.
3. Keep Track of Your Schedule
Tracking how you spend your time is one of the most important responsibilities in your day. Project quotes and invoices originate from tracked time, which means your time is literally money.
An easy way to record how you spend your days is to use scheduling tools like Microsoft Project or Deltek. Avoid waiting until the end of the workday or week to record your time. Tracking in real time will give you a more accurate record and you won’t be in a rush to submit timesheets at the end of a busy day before you head out the door.
4. Communicate with Your Colleagues
Open communication helps avoid a siloed environment, which encourages collaboration and fosters a productive cross-functional work environment. Although engineers are traditionally introverts, communication is one of the most important tools needed to keep processes on track, especially for large projects integrating design details from various engineering disciplines.
When it comes to your projects, you’ll need feedback to know where you stand and what you may need to adjust. Plus, others may be looking at you to provide them with advice or direction.
5. Ask Questions
Don’t be afraid to ask questions you might think are too simple for your colleagues, especially if you’re surrounded by senior-level engineers. When there’s a lack of questioning, project details can get lost in translation or silos can develop which can lead to unnecessary rework and delays. Projects can then require more time and resources than necessary because someone was hesitant to ask for help to better understand their project deliverables.
Also, don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo — that’s when revolutionary ideas happen!
6. Turn Off Your Notifications
One of the biggest distractions is receiving notifications on your phone or computer. A single text message or email can disrupt your focus and steal precious minutes away from your productivity.
To avoid outside distractions, turn off notifications for things like your personal email or social media alerts. You can set certain times during the day to check your emails, text messages or social media accounts.
7. Check in with Yourself
Everyone’s patterns and preferences are different, especially when it comes to their work habits. Every now and then, take a look at how you’re managing your time. Are you struggling in certain areas? Is too much of your time going to unimportant tasks? Do you perform intensive tasks better in the morning than in the afternoon?
Asking yourself these questions can help you gauge how well you’re managing your time and can reveal areas for improvement.
8. Work for CHI Engineering!
At CHI, we trust our engineers’ time management processes. Our leaders come from extensive backgrounds in the engineering world and understand the challenges that come with managing a project with a certain number of hours and an aggressive schedule. While we believe adhering to certain time restraints is important, we are also committed to doing everything that is necessary to get a job done safely and correctly.
If you’re an engineer with experience in the LNG field, we’d love to talk to you! You can explore our open positions and learn more about our employee-focused culture here.