Time Management

Time management is a topic that is not mentioned often in engineering designs or manufacture reviews.  Sure expectations for deadlines are mentioned, and the status to completion of a task is mentioned too, but how to manage time and what are the consequences of bad time management aren’t mentioned that often.  It is this second that I want to share an example I learned when I was a Formula SAE student (Univ. of Puerto Rico).  Now that I’m a graduate student it can help the Baja SAE team (Univ. of Notre Dame) that I’m helping out and all others reading.

All teams are composed of people that work different, some are efficient and others have to put more hours to complete the same job.  If this is not your case stop reading here and congratulations; but for the rest of us:  What happens when someone can’t finish a task by the deadline?  Examples from my Formula SAE years: (a) a student that was supposed to work on “X” suddenly disappears after midterms (b) the design doesn’t work, (c) the machining was ruined, and so on.  What is the resulting workload for those that stayed to finish the work (finish the car)?

Here is what I learned. The simplest scenario is composed of two players and each one of them had to complete 50% of the work by midterms and the other 50% by the end of the semester. In this case everything was perfect and no one had to work more.

Now, let’s say that student 2 completed 50% of the work by midterms, but then at that point in time is notified that student 1 left the team and never completed his/her work.  Reasons for leaving a team can range from lowering grades, up to group dynamics.  Now student 2 has to finish the original workload and add the work from student 1.  The point and eye opener is that student 2 now has to triple the amount of work (150%), when compared to the first part of the semester.

If you are working in any of the SAE collegiate design competitions and feel that close to the end you are working much more than in the beginning this might be one of the reasons.  In this simple example when someone doesn’t finish the work, the result is that it triples the workload for the one that stays!  Very likely, if you are reading this, you are the one that sticks, just have this triple factor in mind next time.  Remember that time is a scarce nonrenewable resource.  This was the first of a series of posts in which I will discuss and share a few things of what I’ve learned in Formula SAE.



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