Civil Engineers: It’s Time to Get Organized from A to Z

August 23, 2011 at 11:08 am 14 comments


Featured Guest Blogger: Anthony Fasano, P.E., LEED AP, ACC
Civil Engineer, Author, Coach and Speaker
Author of Engineer Your Own Success: 7 Key Elements to Creating an Extraordinary Engineering Career
Anthony is also the author of a FREE e-mail service for engineers called A Daily Boost from Your Professional Partner. Click here to read about this service.

I read a book not too long ago entitled Getting Things Done by David Allan.  The book provides strategies and an overall process for getting organized and becoming more productive.  One strategy that I’ve been able to take from this book and not only use myself, but also help engineers to implement through coaching is David’s A to Z filing system.

It is common amongst us civil engineers for papers to pile up on our desk throughout the course of the day.  Papers, plans, invoices, etc can swallow up our office.  Every once in a while it will become so overbearing that we’ll take a whole day and clean out our office which usually consists of throwing most of these items out.  Does this sound familiar?

David’s A to Z system is a great process that will help you to get and STAY organized.  Here is how it works.  Start by designating one large filing drawer or an entire filing cabinet for you’re A to Z system.  Fill the cabinet with 26 hanging folders and label them A through Z.  Next, start making a list of all of the items that you might file away (i.e. example, specifications, estimates, manufacturers information, stormwater guidelines, etc.).  Then create a file folder for each one of these items and be sure to label them clearly.  Then the fun part begins.  Starting with your desk begin to file away items into the proper folders.  You may have to create new folders along the way or slightly modify the system over the first few weeks.  For example, you might have to decide on whether you want to use the word ‘drainage’ or ‘stormwater’ which will determine whether that folder ends up in ‘D’ or ‘S.’

After a few weeks of implementing this system, your office will be clean!  Then you just have to work on keeping it clean, which is pretty easy with this system.  As items come across your desk simply file them into the proper folder or create a new one, when necessary.

You may think that this system is extremely simplistic and actually it is.  I have successfully implemented this system both in my office and in my home and I never have a problem finding something.  I hope this tip is helpful for you can bring more balance to both your career and your life.

Please share any organizational strategies that you are currently using!

Advertisements

Entry filed under: Career Development, Civil Engineering, civil engineering blog, Civil Engineering Issues, Fun Stuff, Project Management, The Workplace, Uncategorized. Tags: , , .

Is Your Civil Engineering Firm Getting Squeezed? 3rd Annual “Best Civil Engineering Firm Logo” Contest

14 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Top 10 Blog Posts of 2011 from CivilEngineeringCentral.com «  |  December 27, 2011 at 10:12 am

    […] 10.   Civil Engineers:  It’s Time to Get Organized from A-to-Z […]

    Reply
  • 2. Anthony Fasano  |  September 8, 2011 at 9:05 am

    @ Neil, I do apologize, it was a typo in the name. I have actually read and listened to the book many times and yes it will help you take back your life. It does offer much much more than just this system, my intent here was just to give one small hint of what David covers. I hope more engineers will read his book based on this post. Thank you for your feedback.

    Reply
  • 3. civil engineers - SCHOOL GUIDE – SCHOOL GUIDE  |  September 7, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    […] Civil Engineers: It's Time to Get Organized from A to Z « It is common amongst us civil engineers for papers to pile up on our desk throughout the course of the day. Papers, plans, invoices, etc can swallow up our office. Every once in a while it will become so overbearing that we'll …http://blog.civilengineeringce .. […]

    Reply
  • 4. Cathy Baldry  |  September 5, 2011 at 10:28 pm

    I thought thats what a secretary was for! lol!

    Reply
  • 5. define: civil engineering - SCHOOL GUIDE – SCHOOL GUIDE  |  September 2, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    […] Civil Engineers: It's Time to Get Organized from A to Z « It is common amongst us civil engineers for papers to pile up on our desk throughout the course of the day. Papers, plans, invoices, etc can swallow up our office. Every once in a while it will become so overbearing that we'll …http://blog.civilengineeringce .. […]

    Reply
  • 6. Anthony Fasano  |  August 31, 2011 at 10:39 am

    Haha I agree 100%, he does get very, very detailed, but your right, you can kind of tweak the system to make it your own. Thanks Mark for your feedback.

    Reply
  • 7. Mark  |  August 31, 2011 at 10:25 am

    Yes, I have read it and keep a copy handy. It is a system that can be tailored to your needs. I sometimes find that GTD can lead to too much detail in filing and organization, So I scale it down to what I find most useful.

    Reply
  • 8. Anthony Fasano  |  August 31, 2011 at 10:21 am

    Good catch Mark, typo on my part, none-the-less it was a powerful book. Here is the link for those interested: http://amzn.to/oiFGYG

    Reply
    • 9. Neil  |  September 7, 2011 at 12:18 pm

      Suggest correcting this. Gary Allan is a country singer. David Allen is an author. GTD has a hard-core following and this error makes you look like you skimmed the book, not read it. (And for those that haven’t read the book, GTD is a complete system that goes way beyond A to Z filing – I highly recommend it. It’ll help you take back control of your life, not just get your desk organized.)

      Reply
  • 10. Mark  |  August 31, 2011 at 8:26 am

    David Allen wrote Getting Things Done, not Gary Allan.

    Reply
  • 11. Anthony Fasano  |  August 28, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    Best of luck with it Pedro, thanks for the feedback!

    Reply
  • 12. Pedro Segadaes  |  August 26, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    My work desk is and work rhythm is chaos. Sometimes It’s even hard to gather the will to start working on new civil engineering projects with that kind of mess :). I would be very receptive to such a system.

    Reply
  • 13. Anthony Fasano  |  August 25, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    Thanks for the feedback Dick, I like it, simple yet effective!

    Reply
  • 14. Dick Frye  |  August 25, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    For me, “filed is forgotten” so I use a similar but more commanding method. My system is simply 1, 2, 3. Every pending item is placed in the 1, 2, or 3 file depending on its level of importance/urgency. I look at my “1” file everyday removing items for that workday’s activity and moving to 2 or 3 those items that have changed urgency. I look at the “2” file once a week moving items to 1 or 3 if warranted. I only work on “1s”. Thankfully, 3s have a way of either becoming urgent or fading entirely. I only look at the 3’s file about once a month.
    Dick Frye

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Archives

Feeds


%d bloggers like this: