We were going to document this skill first, but then…. Well you know!

Most University programs offer a full load of between 15 to 22 hours per week of instruction and lab time. Engineering is a bit different. First year engineering is frequently between 34 to 40 hours of class and group problem solving “labs” – plus reading and study time!

Under such a heavy workload, your engineer learns to focus at all times on whatever needs to be handed in next, be it in 2 hours, or in 2 days. Your engineer also learns to work quickly and then submit his work for “peer review” prior to handing it in for marking. “Peer review” is a nice way of saying that you show your assignment to your classmates so everyone can laugh at you – which is perfectly acceptable behavior in Engineering School because you’ll get your chance to laugh at their effort, just as soon as they get it done too!

After 2 or 3 semesters of this level of work, your engineer has learned that he can accomplish a great deal whenever there’s a lot of schedule pressure placed upon him – kind of like the spring in a mechanical watch. In university, that spring is tightened every day for a semester, whereupon the whole thing gets released, to start winding up again during the next semester.

In the real world AFTER university, NO ONE, including your engineer, could stay that wound up without a release every few months. But that kind of stress release isn’t practical, short of changing jobs every 6 months – and that’s hard on any engineer, especially since he hasn’t finished learning the first names of all 20 employees at his current place of employment yet!

The result is that your engineer learns that he can slack off until he needs to kick it in to high gear, then work at an amazing pace for a few days, and come out looking like a hero – at least in his own mind!

How do you take advantage of this capability for hard work, while minimizing the downtime between periods of working hard?

Have a prioritized list of projects you’d like done. Ask your engineer which ones he thinks he could get done during the work time you have in mind. He will pick enough work to allow himself to finish while working at a leisurely pace.

Just before he’s due to start, remember some small item that got left off the list, but just has to get done today. Ask him if there’s any way he can add it to the work for the day. If you’ve chosen one that’s short enough, he’ll add it in, and get to work at a faster pace than he would have worked otherwise. But – and this is key – if he didn’t object strenuously, then he still has spare time in his estimate of the total work to be done now. Later, after this little item is done (and he will do it early for you, as he is highly affectionate towards you, as you’ve read elsewhere) you can add another short task to the list.

Once he appears to be near his breaking point, you cut him off with. “That’s okay Honey! It’s important, but I guess it can wait! You are much more important than this chore!” If you can arrange to sound sincere, then be ready for him to find a way to get this one to get done as well. But be warned! Don’t add any more work to the list.

Rest assured that you’ve gotten the most from him for another day. Let him relax in front of his favourite cartoon show to release the watch spring, so that he can be ready to be manipulated again tomorrow!

Isn’t this fun!