Each work day for me as a Mechanical Engineer always starts at a similar time (between 8AM and 8:30AM). It’s a good time to start work, as it gives me a sensible amount of time to review my to-do lists and priority tasks for the day ahead. I find it’s best not to have a concrete plan for what I may achieve during the day, as almost always something unexpected will come along which require my attention. However, it’s important to keep an overview of important milestones for the week, such as documents that need writing or drawings which need reviewing.
Finally, I go through my meetings I have for the day, which gives me a good indication of what surplus tasks I may have to deal with as the day goes on.
The First Meeting
The first meeting of the day is usually a project catch-up. It’s a good time to discuss the progress of tasks and any developing news. As a Technical Lead on some projects and supporting Mechanical Engineer on others, these are good times for me to discuss workloads with the Project Managers, identify any concerns going forward, respond to current issues, and give positive feedback on work done well so far.
Following on from that, I usually have a few emails to send out based on discussions from the meeting (chase this, check that) before I get stuck into one of the tasks for the day. Every company has mood throughout the week, so based on the day there are distinct themes;
- Mondays and Fridays are good days for getting on with work as I have fewer meetings and unexpected interruptions. Particularly useful as many deadlines are set for one of these days, so it gives me a chance to review documentation before it is sent to our customers.
- Wednesdays, conversely, are usually booked heavily with meetings. Everyone is in full flow on their own projects so questions and queries arrive in greater numbers on this day!
Expect the Unexpected
Some unexpected tasks that land in my inbox over the course of a day can include;
- Technical queries about a customer technical specification, what it means in simpler terms and how we can achieve it. As the saying goes; “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” I enjoy being able to help out and explain topics based on my technical knowledge. If I don’t have a good enough understanding on the topic, I can add it to my reading list.
- Document reviews for projects or for the Business Management Systems (BMS). With my technical background, I am able to review technical changes to documents to ensure they are correct, relevant and clearly explained. BMS documents in particular must be clear and easy to read, as these are used by members of the business with skill sets and knowledge different to my own.
- Manufacturing/production concerns over mechanical components. In an ideal world, these shouldn’t arise, but without them my job would be less challenging or satisfying. These are useful to identify areas where I may need to improve my understanding on a topic, or where additional procedures or clarifications are required to prevent these issues in future.
Roughly 2/3rds of my work day will be before lunch, which allows me to get stuck into project work and responding to technical queries before lunch and get a lot of work done! During lunch, I find it’s important to step away from the PC to prevent the temptation to work through the break with a sandwich in hand!
After lunch, with 1/3rd of the work day remaining, I usually have another quick review of what I had planned to achieve today. If I’m behind where I wanted to be, it gives me time to re-evaluate my plan and possibly defer some tasks until a later date.
Unless project work is dictating otherwise, in my last half an hour of work I try to do a bit of housekeeping. I sort through my emails for the day to make sure I haven’t missed anything I need to respond to, archive them as necessary, and complete my timesheet for the day. If I can finish off a particular task by working over a short while, I usually will to clear it from my mind for the evening. After that, it’s time to relax for the evening before it all begins again tomorrow!