9 Productivity Hacks for Engineers

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Who has not experienced the following? Arriving at the office in the morning and writing a to-do list, realizing at the end of the day that almost nothing has been finalized. There is always an additional, more important task or a colleague who needs a helping hand – faster, higher, further every day.  The piles on the desks are not getting less. With a few tips and with discipline this can be changed. We have collected a few smart productivity hacks:

1. Understand the difference between effective and efficient.

In order to organize your work much better, it is necessary to understand the meaning of effective work and efficient work. These terms are often mixed up and misunderstood in the daily working life. Most people are working effectively but not efficiently.

You are working effectively when you achieve the targets set regardless in which way and how much time it takes. In contrast working efficiently means to optimize the way you work to complete the tasks in a shorter period of time. Due to tight schedules the goal should be to find the most efficient way to work. You can find a nice overview about the differences following this link.

2. Create schedules

Defining a clear schedule is essential for a good time management. You should keep in mind to create your plan as precise as possible. To avoid stress, you should consider some extra time (for example half an hour at the end of the day) in case that something unforeseeable happens. The challenge is to estimate the right time for each task.

Here are some ideas for your perfect schedule. Or you can use your calendar – in case that you prefer handwritten records.

3. Organize the chaos on your desk

Those who keep their working place in order do have a clear mind as well. The goal is to have only the important stuff on your desk or desktop. All other sheets, folders or files are just keeping you away from the actual tasks. Free yourself from unnecessary things you do not need!

4. Get unpleasant tasks done immediately

Humans tend to procrastination. We postpone important tasks and prioritize less relevant duties until there is no time left. Then we start to work on it while we are annoyed that there is so much to do.  

A small tip: Plan to work on each task for 10 minutes only. As soon as you have started and you are “in the flow” you will probably not stop and the task is quickly accomplished. This will keep your head clear for other tasks. 

5. Just say no

If you tend to say yes all the time, more and more tasks will end up on your desk soon. Make an estimation if you do have enough time or if there are more important tasks which should be completed.  Feel free to say “no” from time to time!

6. Take frequent brakes

If you forego your brakes, you act counterproductive. Body and soul need these daily “short vacations”. Otherwise focus is approaching zero. This is why you should pay attention to frequent brakes: 5 minutes per hour. A cup of coffee, a chat with colleagues or just 5 minutes time for yourself will be a boost of energy for your workflow. Do not consider brakes and time to have lunch as time consumers but as fuel instead – necessary for a smooth running engine ;). An interesting article about taking brakes is published on buffer.com.

7. Set deadlines

An experiment with coffee vouchers with different expiration dates (three weeks versus two months) showed that the vouchers valid for two months expire more often. Self-delusion leads to the idea that there is enough time to redeem the voucher. Transferred to working life this means: it is much better to set tight deadlines. This avoids the necessity to complete tasks at the last minute.

8. Avoid distractions

You better not have a glance at your beloved smartphone since it is teeming with distractions. You easily lose yourself with all the apps and social media channels.

5 seconds of distraction are good enough to hinder you from working. To focus again on your tasks consumes time and nerves. So you better avoid any unnecessary distractions.

9. Start your day right to be successful

To start your day successfully, you should try to start it relaxed. A hectic pace in the morning leads to an unstructured and stressful day. This means: get up a little bit earlier to exercise or just move for about 10 minutes and to have a healthy breakfast. Do not leap at your emails immediately. It is much more beneficial to start your day relaxed!


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