Work Smarter and Train Harder: Time Management Tips from an Engineering Runner

It requires a lot of dedication, determination and discipline to be a superb distance runner.  You can’t just wake up one day and say, “I am going to run 50 miles in under 6 hours today”.  If you try, I guarantee you will not succeed.   Runners have to evaluate the season and adjust their diet accordingly.  For me, this means my diet becomes clean; full of whole foods, tons of veggies, and I deny myself the joy of brownies or refined sugar. With this change comes the added task of meal preparation and scheduling the appropriate time to supply my body with fuel. The next task runners must do is setup their training schedule for the season.  Mine consist of five running sessions, (various types of runs), three strength training sessions, and one Yoga/Pilates session per week. People have asked, how do you keep up with such a rigorous workout routine when you are a manager, college student, and wife?  My answer is:  Time Management Skills!  The same skill that helps me in my engineering career.

Several new engineers have asked how I fit everything I do into my schedule.  Simple.  I have many years of practice developing my time management skills.  Without these skills I would not be able to maintain the amount of work I perform in a day.  There are several techniques to improve your time management skills, but I will share the few I have identified to be beneficial in reducing stress and increasing productivity.

Plan:  Scheduling tasks needs to become a habit.  I carry a planner and list task as I identify them.  I like to categorize task by work, home, school and health.  At the start of the day form a to do list, prioritize the items so you can focus on the essential tasks.

Deadlines:  Now that you have a task list you need to set deadlines for when these task need to be completed.  This will help you to avoid procrastinating on the task which results in a negative effect on your productivity.

Do Not Multitask:   Even through most of us believe multitasking is an efficient way to get things done.  The truth is, the human brain functions better when we focus and concentrate on one thing.

Take Breaks:  Too much stress can take a toll on your body and have a negative effect on your productivity.  Go ahead and schedule in your break time. This helps you relax so you can return to your tasks energized.

Be an Early Bird:   When you get up early, you are more calm, creative, and clear-headed.  Your energy levels start to decline as the day progresses affecting productivity, and you may not perform as well.  My solution is to assign the tasks that require less creative thinking and problem solving for later in the day.

Time management skills are an essential part of making your day just a little easier. Find what works for you and stick to it. When you accomplish something, celebrate it! How you celebrate your accomplishments is up to you. But for the runners my word of advice is to keep whatever you choose to do healthy, make sure it’s something you really enjoy, don’t do it in excess, and don’t let it cause you to get further behind.

Author: Natalie Grace Keyser

I am a dedicated Quality/Technology Manager, driven Metallurgical Engineer, Supporter of Future Professional. My professional personality shows in my running, where I will not back down from a challenge or slow down before the finish line is reached.

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