Regardless of what field you choose, task management is going to be important to your role as an entry-level engineer. Once you get the tasks, you then need to manage and prioritize these tasks to meet the expected deadlines. I definitely struggled with this my first year or so post-graduation, so I created a method to use alongside ClickUp to keep track of all my tasks. This method also helps me make sure I get the important information I need when the task assigner and I are meeting for the first time.
And to make it easy to remember, I have formatted this method using the acronym THOR.
T – Timeline
Our first step is the timeline. Asking when each task is due is important to help you manage and prioritize tasks. As an entry-level engineer, you will most likely be given several tasks for more than one project at a time and possibly from different Project Managers.
H – Hours
The next step is hours. Especially in the consulting side of engineering, budget is important to any project, so knowing if this task is allotted for 4 hours or 40 hours should be clarified in your initial meeting when you are first talking about this task.
O – Order of Operations
Order of Operations – While this is technically two O’s, both are equally important! Order of operations, like PEMDAS, makes sure that if there are subtasks to these assigned tasks, you are completing them in the right order. For example, when doing the task of sizing a wingwall, I will first go through the sizing and load calculations and find the minimum sizing for each component. Then this needs to be checked and sent along to the Geotech who is sizing the foundations for the design. After this is sent to the Geotech and they approve it, I can then create our plan and elevation sheets for each wingwall in CAD. If I ended up going immediately into the drafting of the sizes and THEN find out that it is not sufficient based on our Geotech’s analysis, I will need to redraft all the wingwalls in CAD which is inefficient.
R – Repeat
The last step is repeat. I picked this one up from when my mom had to get a few surgeries done. Before each procedure, the surgeon or their assistant would ask my mom “what do you understand about this surgery?” which would get my mom to essentially repeat what was explained to her but also help to clear up any gaps in understanding. I use repeat at the end of each new task meeting to make sure that I understand the task and associated deliverables that I will be responsible for. This also helps to clarify level of detail. For example, a deliverable that is staying internal to our group vs. something that will be sent to our client involves a different level of aestethics. Repeating back the task you have just been given back to the project manager can help clear up any gaps in understanding. This clarification can save you many precious project hours before you realize that you misunderstood the final deliverable being asked of you.
After I go through the THOR method for each task, I add it to my task list in ClickUp (https://clickup.com/) with it’s asssociated deadline. Here I can then see when each task is due which helps me plan out each work day. If you would like me to write a future blog post about how I plan each work week, please let me know by leaving a comment below.
I hope the THOR method helps you with your future task management!
Do you have any questions about the THOR Method or how I use ClickUp beyond work task management? We would be happy to make a future blog about this topic, so please feel free to reach out to us at DaniTheEngineer.Blog@gmail.com with your specific questions and leave them as a comment below this post!