Tag Archives: productivity

13 ways to increase productivity at work

Time is money, right? Well, not everything can or should be expressed in form of cold hard cash. One thing that is the most precious resource that we never have enough of is time.

There are plenty of time wasters every day that are annoying as they are wasting time you do not have. Here are a few concepts that can help you get another hour back per day.

  1. Make a list of the top three to five things you will get done the next day. Nothing beats being prepared for the next day.
  2. Set a time of the day that you want to use for working on a particular issue. Then provide your coworkers a visual signal that you are not available. Close the door (if you have one) and most importantly tape a sheet of paper to the door or the back of your chair with “work session in progress, please do not disturb. Set your phone to “do not disturb” and put in ear plugs if your co-workers are too loud.
  3. Declutter your desk every night. Do not let piles of paperwork and old parts let you start the next day wondering where you left off. Clean it up; once and done.
  4. Institute a To-look-at-later drawer. Clear out a drawer in your desk. I am certain you have all sorts of magazines, documents, memos, pet projects, etc that you would like to look at later. When you look at your in-box clean it out over the recycling bin for starters. Then put the really hot and important stuff on top of your desk. Put what is left in this empty drawer. After four to six weeks throw everything in the drawer out. Yes, you read this correctly. Just throw it out. If you have not needed to look at any of it this long, you do not need it. Do not think about reading it again. Just put it into recycling.
  5. Only answer e-mails that have your name in the “To” line. It will take a while for your folks to get used to this, but trust me, you will later be glad that you instituted this rule. What is the purpose of putting you in the CC field and expect that you read and react to each of these mails? That is why there is a To line. This can save you hours. People will adjust to your rule sooner than you think.
  6. Never check e-mails early in the morning unless the headline reads “emergency”. Most people will say that the early morning is their most productive time. Do not waste this time checking mail. If you do, you will find yourself having answered mails and it is almost lunch time. Before you know it you will not get your work done anymore. Check it midday. It takes discipline, but most mails do not need your input anyway because people are too lazy to look for information themselves and they rather ask you to save time – that is your time!
  7. Let new vendors sent you a mail or ask for their web page. Vendors love to speak to you in person. Unless you asked for them to call you, most of those calls cost you time with very little return on your time investment. Get them to drop you a mail and / or ask for their web page information. Take a look at it right as you speak and bookmark it for later use.
  8. Install a second monitor. If you have to beg for a second monitor for your computer. It saves so much time to be able to look at two programs, documents etc. It will do wonders for your stress level as well.
  9. Get Swype for your mobile smart phone or other mobile devices. Instead of typing you just need to swipe on your keyboard. http://www.swype.com/
  10. Tell your meeting appointments where you are and how close you are to making the next meeting without having to call. Use Glympse. It works with any software and phone. http://glympse.com/
  11. Use Pocket for looking at all the web sites, etc you get mailed at a time when it is convenient for you. It keeps track of the sites and you do not have to bookmark them. http://getpocket.com
  12. Use Doodle for setting up meeting across all mail platforms. A great time saver that lets your meeting participants pick a meeting time that is convenient for everyone.  http://www.doodle.com/
  13. Use Wikisend for sending large files up to 100mb. It is a free service and saves many a headaches when you have large files to share with others. http://wikisend.com/

Some things you cannot change at work and they cost you time. Then there are others that you have control over. Make sure to eliminate as many time wasters as possible. The future has not happened yet and the past is the past. You only have the current moment. Make it count and use any tools to give you more time to dedicate to really important matters.


Engineering and Project Teamwork

The cause is bigger than the individual and the product is more than the sum of the parts

I have had the privilege to be part of a crack engineering team that gelled and matured over a several year period and then continued to get better and better with time and with each challenge. As is natural, each team member revealed particular strengths. The individual strengths tended to be diverse and cumulatively greatly broadened the capability. When inspired by leadership, towards a common cause that is deemed bigger than the individual, the individual strengths dovetail, not only filling the gaps but with strengthened bonds produce a powerful force. This is not a case for promoting specialization, quite the contrary. Individual strengths and leanings happen naturally. Indeed, individuals that are trained and inspired to be well rounded and complete don’t lose their strengths and leanings but achieve greater versatility and productivity and through a broader understanding of all functions are able to enhance the performance of others by their support.

Construction at Victor Project in the harsh Canadian environment
Construction at Victor Project in the harsh Canadian environment

Recently I had the privilege of witnessing such exemplary teamwork in action at the Victor Diamond Mining project, in Northern Ontario, Canada. I was there for Dos Santos International, starting-up and commissioning our three DSI Snake Sandwich High-Angle Conveyors. At the morning launch meetings as at the evening recap, the enthusiasm and sense of purpose was contagious. Clearly the cause was larger than the individual and this sense was shared by all team members from management to labor of the participating companies; the owner, the EPCM, the installation contractor and the various suppliers. Assignments, both planned and unexpected were embraced with enthusiasm and performed with pride and purpose. It’s no wonder that the Victor project is an example of success, coming in ahead of schedule and under budget.

Twin DSI Snakes at the Victor Mine
Twin DSI Snakes at the Victor Mine

The accomplishments, product of the teamwork, are the more impressive when the size, location and schedule of the Victor Project are considered. The following stats are taken from “E&MJ Dec. 2005” and “Canadian Business Dec. 2005”:

  • Project cost, (US Dollars) $ 982 million
  • Project life is 17 years
  • Productive mine life is 12 years, based on only one of 16 pipes (grading 22.3 carats/100 t), 6 million carats. Exploration continues on others in order to extend the mine life
  • Mine will produce annual revenue of (US Dollars) $ 117 million
  • The Victor kimberlite has a surface area of 15 hectors
  • Mine is located in James Bay Lowlands of northern Ontario, 90 km west of the coastal community of Attawapiskat
  • Mine is accessible only by air, and supplied by ice roads during 2 to 2½ months in the winter
  • Project schedule:
    • Environmental permits were approved in late October, 2005
    • Construction began in early 2006
    • Mine production began in early 2008, nearly a full year ahead of schedule
  • Project manpower grew to more than 800 during construction and settled to 380 for the productive mine life

I was privileged and honored to be a part of (if only as a supplier and observer) this very successful and exemplary project and team.

Joseph A. Dos Santos, PE