What are the organizing challenges of engineers?
I am a professional organizer currently working on an article about organizing for engineers. I am wondering about the major challenges you face regarding getting organized at work. Do you struggle most with organizing your time, organizing your data or papers, your schedule?
Any responses are appreciated! Thank you!
My Engineering Challenges
Here are some things i've found difficult, especially when trying to implement GTD.
I'd say I struggle most with organizing my time, because someone could always bring a new problem to my attention, and these problems could take anywhere from minutes or weeks to solve.
Problems/projects that you thought were completed years ago creep back up because of some other change, new product version or new data. Resurrecting projects is very common in engineering, but is not addressed in GTD. also, b/c projects can be resurrected so often, excellent personal documentation system (or a perfect memory) is required to resurrect these projects without re-working anything.
Also, in engineering, processes are often difficult. Some processes take up to a few hours, but splitting them into "next actions" doesn't make sense because it disrupts the flow of the process, which is what you are focusing on. Processes are often documented external to the process users.
Here are a few more things.
1) Uncertainty in tasks. The 2-minute rule (do something if you know it'll take 2 minutes) doesn't apply b/c so many tasks take more than 2-minutes, and one 2-minute tasks could easily lead to 3 more tasks which all could vary.
1a) Working projects in Parallel. Often, one project requires many "next actions" worked in parallel. This can make for a more difficult weekly review.
2) Project Management in Engineering is always complicated. We (engineers) often make things more complicated than they need to be. This is probably one of the big picture problems.
3) Documentation systems, especially in big companies, often involve sophisticated tools, and very rarely do you "own" documents. Therefore, filing systems aren't that important, but developing a system (folder of shortcuts, or reference file index, for example) for you to be able to quickly reference documents that you don't own IS important.