When not brewing, I work as an architect. While there is seemingly little cross-over between the two, both are analogous in their diverse blend of science and art. One thing my day job has brought to my brewday is the concept used in construction of critical path scheduling. While not the sexiest topic to talk about, it has given structure and efficiency to my brewdays.
In a nut shell, critical path scheduling dictates that your overall project (brewday) can never take less time than the sum of all critical paths (tasks) within the overall schedule. If your goal is to shorten your overall project, you must look at ways to shorten your critical paths. A critical path is essentially any task which must be completed before other critical paths can begin. In brewing, a common critical path would be mashing. You can’t start boiling (another critical path) until the critical path of mashing is complete. By looking at your brewday in this manner, it illustrates all of the other non-critical path items (cleaning, prepping items, putting away items, etc.) that can occur while critical path items are being completed. This methodology exposes areas of unused time during the brewday and allows you to be efficient with your time and decrease the time required to complete a brewday.
Geeky, yes, but it works. If you really want to geek out, you can download my Excel spreadsheet, here.