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3 Simple Tips To Be a Great Conversationalist

Being the owner of drafting and design firm teaches you many things, but I never suspected that it will challenge me to become a better conversationalist. Being a good communicator and conversationalist is not the key to a successful business, but it definitely helps.

As much as I don’t like to put labels on others or myself, I will say that I’m an introvert by nature. I’ve never been a “people” person or a “life of a party” type of a guy, not that there is anything wrong with that. It’s just not who I am. As an introvert I get “energized” by spending time alone in my study, designing, drafting, reading and reflecting. On the other hand, people who are more extroverted, feel more “alive” when they are in a crowd of people having conversations. As a result it’s more natural and easier for extroverts to start conversations.

Break 1Running a drafting and design firm from home for the last 15 months certainly challenged me to get out of my comfort zone. I have meetings with present and potential clients almost every day, on top of that I network with other designers and business owners. This means I have to constantly step out of my comfortable introverted mentality and be a good conversationalist. Looking back, I believe that being an introvert actually helped me in those conversations.

In no way I consider myself to be an expert conversationalist, I know that I have long ways to go, but below are 3 lessons I have learned so far about having better conversations. Even though these are very simple strategies, I strongly believe hat if you apply them, they will help you tremendously.

#1 LISTEN

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who kept interrupting you? How did that go? Exactly! No one likes being interrupted, but it happens so often, doesn’t it? Observing our culture I find it interesting how everyone wants to be heard, but no one wants to listen. You can take speech classes at your local community college, but there are no courses to aid you with becoming a better listener. I believe that listening is an art and it does not come naturally to everyone, but it is definitely a skill that can be acquired. Often, when talking to people I want to jump right in and “solve” their problems by giving a great advice, but sometimes the best thing I can do is just… well, listen. It is amazing how this simple skill of listening can help improve conversations.

Break 2#2 ASK QUESTIONS

Asking good questions is the key element to a good conversation. Good questions are like “road signs” that direct the conversation in the right way. In order for your questions to act like “road signs” they must be open-ended questions, meaning questions that generate discussion and insight. When you ask questions it shows that you are interested in what the other person is saying.

Also, asking the right questions is crucial when it comes to teaching or mentoring someone. Rather than telling someone what to do, try asking questions by which you can guide them to discover important insights into the problem. If you are mentoring or teaching someone, they may come to the solution to their problem by just talking through it with the guidance of your questions. I found this to be one of the most important strategies in my meetings.

#3 FOCUS ON BEING INTERESTED INSTEAD OF BEING INTERESTING

Sometimes, before people get into an important conversation they think, “How can I be more interesting? I need to share something interesting about my work, my education, my plans.” Often times the result of this approach is either an awkward or a boring conversation, because rather than enjoying the dialogue you are tense and stressed. Instead of thinking about yourself and how awesome you are, it’s better to go into the conversation thinking about the person you are going to converse with. It’s a “give rather than receive” mentality. Focus on being interested instead of being interesting.

So, these are the three things that I found to be helpful when it comes to having a good conversation, be genuinely interested in what they have to say, listen and ask the right questions. What are your strategies to a great conversation? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

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How To Be The Best Drafter/Designer You Can Be In 2016

2016 is here and it’s the season of setting goals and creating resolutions. For some it’s health related goals, or improvements in personal relationships, some resolve to get out of debt and the list continues. Whatever it is, we see new year as opportunity for change and improvement.

As you set your personal new year resolutions, it’s also important to establish some professional goals. Goal setting is crucial for progress, especially when it comes to your business and/or career. In this post I want to share some of my professional goals for 2016. These are things I want to work on to become a better drafter and designer this year. If these goals resonate with you, feel free to adopt them and implement in your professional career.

Knowledge#1 Never Stagnate In Knowledge

I’m sure you know this but you don’t know everything. There is always something new to learn and with all the resources available online it’s easier than ever. Make it a goal this year to learn something new about design, drafting, business, entrepreneurship, teamwork, marketing everyday. My hope that DraftingHub will become a “to go” place for that.


FREE RESOURCE: I have put together a free ebook with resources that I personally use on weekly basis to expand my knowledge on design, drafting and business. You can get your free copy by CLICKING HERE.


#2 Contribute, Don’t Just Consume

Whether you work in a large office setting or from home as a freelancer, at some point you will find yourself working in a team. There is nothing worse than a passive team member who consumes but never contributes. Make it a goal to be more active in your team and contribute. Maybe even consider contributing to DraftingHub by commenting or writing a guest post :), contact me if interested.

#3 Don’t Be Afraid To Try New Things

The old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is true, but don’t let it stop you form trying new things. Sometimes it’s a good thing to get out of our comfort zone and do something new and different. Maybe it’s a different approach to a design process, new marketing strategy or as simple as new workstation layout. Trying new things is always a good way to challenge yourself, thus helping you grow.

Network#4 Network More

In the last year and a half of running my own drafting and design firm I found that networking is one of the most important things I can do to grow my business. Now, naturally I’m a big introvert. I would rather sit at my workstation with headphones in, than meet new people, but  what we want isn’t always best for us. Someone said that opportunity is found outside of our comfort zone. I found that statement to be very true. This year, get out more, network with other freelancers, business owners and designers.

#5 Ask For Help

Back to my first statement, “you don’t know everything”. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but rather an important step of growth. It’s always important to have mentors who you can seek advice from. If you don’t have one already, make it a goal this year to find a mentor. Hey, maybe it’s going to be one of the new things that you try!


If you are serious about finding a mentor in the area of drafting, design, freelancing and starting your own drafting/design firm feel free to contact me for more information. 


#6 Take Time Off More Often

When you are passionate about what you do, it’s easy to forget about work/life balance. This is especially true when working from home. Let this year be a year when you set aside good amount of time for your family, friends as well as some alone time to recharge.

Celebrate#7 Celebrate the Wins

I don’t know about you, but I tend to be very critical of myself. Always looking at things that I can improve on, fix and do better. This is not necessarily a bad characteristic, but definitely can hurt you and your business. Celebrating your wins is as equally important as analyzing the failures. This year set a goal to celebrate the wins, even if they are small. When you finish a project, celebrate! Landed that perfect job or found a new client, celebrate!


What professional goals and resolutions have you set for this year? Please feel free to share them in the comments below.

 

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Top 5 Posts of 2015

2015 was a busy year here on DraftingHub. We published 25 articles on topics ranging from drafting tips to book reviews. We also conducted few interviews of prominent CAD bloggers as well as other experts in design field. Tens of thousands of people visited DraftingHub and hundreds left comments and their own tips on various topics.

In this post you will find top five posts of 2015. Enjoy!

#5 Top Qualities Architects Look for in a Drafter

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#4 6 Reasons Why Every Drafter Should Use Dual Monitors

6 Reasons why evey drafter should use dual monitors

#3 What I’ve Learned After One Year of Running My Own Drafting & Design Firm

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#2 Top SketchUp Resources Every Designer Must Use

Top Sketchup resources every designer must use

#1 11 Tips for Freelance Drafters Working From Home

11 tips for freelance drafters working from home

What was your favorite post of 2015? Please let us know in the comments below. What topics would you want to see covered in 2016?

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Standing Workstation on a Budget

Seven months ago I switched from a regular sitting desk to a standing workstation and the only regret I have is not doing it sooner. Since making the switch my energy level and productivity during the workday increased significantly. Standing workstations became a trend recently and there is a good reason for it.

Michael Hyatt writes a lot about why so many people are switching to a standing desk. Here are two articles from his blog that I recommend reading, “4 Reasons You Should Buy a Standup Desk – Right Now” and “Why Sitting Is Killing You”. I know… I know, sounds dramatic but there is a lot of truth to it.

Below is a short time-laps of me setting up the stand-up desk.

If you look around the web, you’ll find that stand-up desks can get very costly. Very costly! Ranging between $600 and $1,500, which in my opinion is just crazy, at least at this point of my life it is. Being on a budget I decided to use what I had around my house to assemble my standing workstation. In this post I share exactly how I did it and what I used.

25 - Standing WorkstationDrafting Table – I had this drafting table for a while laying under my bed. I bought it brand new eight years ago for $160. I’m pretty sure you can find same one for much cheaper at a garage sale or on Craigslist. Raising the table to its highest point wasn’t enough for me, so that’s where the second piece of the puzzle comes in.

8 Various Russian Poetry Books – Just to be clear, these don’t necessarily have to be Russian poetry books, you can use any poetry books. Unstable you say? Maybe you are right, so proceed at your own risk.

Computer – I had this computer custom-built few years ago, so I can’t link to a particular station. Basically it was built with enough memory and graphics card to handle 3D modeling, rendering and AutoCAD.

MonitorsMonitors – I’m using two same size but different brand monitors. Left one is a Samsung SyncMaster S23B300 and the right one is Acer AL2216W (here is the closest model I found available). Not ideal scenario to use different brand monitors but I’m still alive and well, so no problem there. By the way if you haven’t switched to using dual monitors do it as soon as possible. I wrote an in-depth post on dual monitors here.

6 Collier’s Encyclopedias aka Monitor Stands – These look good, at least in my opinion, and the best part I got them for free. 

Mouse – After going through more than dozen of these, I finally found the ONE! Having a mouse that fits you perfectly is a crucial part to being a productive drafter and designer. Logitech M510 is the one that works for me. I highly recommend it, but what works for me will not necessarily work for you.

Keyboard – Nothing fancy or futuristic to see here, just a keyboard that works. Here is a similar keyboard on amazon.

LampLamp – On rare occasions when I have actual paper drawings/documents that I’m working off of, this is perfect for light. Small enough not to take precious desk space, strong enough to provide proper lighting.

Speakers – Music is important to a drafting and design process, so having decent speakers is a must in the office. One important feature for me is to have headphone and AUX dock extension nearby, for the times when kids are sleeping and I can’t play music out loud.

PrinterPrinter (Brother MFC – J6920DW) – I never had luck with printers until I found this brother. Perfect for printing out “check sets” on 11 x 17 paper as well as on a regular 8.5 x 11. It also scans and copies both sizes. It’s not the fastest printer out there, but for this price it sure is a good deal. Also, this printer is not a glutton when it comes to ink, which we all know printers are known for.

Standing Mat – If you are planning on switching to a standing desk, make sure to buy a standing mat. Without the mat, by the end of the working day, your feet will not be happy. There are special mats for sending desks, but again the price is ridiculous. I just got this Stanley Portable Comfort Mat and it works perfectly.


If you can afford a brand new ridiculously expensive stand-up desk by all means buy one, I sure would. But if you are on a budget like I am, there are alternatives. I hope that this was helpful and that some of you will make the switch.

I would love to hear from you. Are you using a standing workstation? Did you buy it or put it together yourself? What did you use? Please comment below.


Note: Some of the links in on this post are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and/or believe will add value to my readers.

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What I’ve Learned After One Year of Running My Own Drafting & Design Firm

Exactly one year ago I quit my full time job and started my own drafting and design firm. After ten years of working for a few different great companies as a project manager and drafter, I decided that it was time to start my own business. This past year was full of challenges, but not once I regretted my decision.

During this time I’ve learned some valuable lessons that I want to share in this post. I’m writing this not as someone who has arrived and knows it all, but rather as a fellow designer on the journey of entrepreneurship.

JumpJust Do It!

Not to sound like Shia LaBeouf, but JUST DO IT! There will never be a perfect time to make the jump into self-employment. We tend to overthink things. Sometimes you just have to go for it. Of course, I’m not talking about blindly quitting your job and hoping that somehow things will work out. They won’t! You have to have a plan in place, established connections and potential clients, but don’t wait for everything to be perfectly aligned.

Save, Save, Save…

Make sure you have some money saved! I’ve heard it somewhere that you should have at least three to nine months’ worth of expenses in your savings before making the jump. Believe me it’s true. When you are on your own and those paychecks don’t come on regular basis it will do two things to you. First, you will be glad that you saved up some money, if you did. Second, it will make you hustle to grow your business.

NetworkNetwork

Being a solopreneur can get lonely. Sitting in front of the computer all day can get to you, even if you are an introvert like myself. Whether you like it or not, networking is extremely important. By networking, I mean connecting with other like minded people, especially other freelance drafters and designers. I never look at other designers as my competitors, but rather as someone I can network with. If you approach it with that mindset, it can lead to support, new leads and even joining forces to tackle bigger projects. You can read more on networking here.

Currently I’m committed to two mastermind groups and they benefit me greatly.

Never Stop Learning

I’m a firm believer in self-education. I think that once you stop learning, you stagnate as a person. This applies to every aspect of our lives, especially when it comes to business. Luckily, we live in an era of the internet, where learning is practically free and infinite. There are so many amazing resources online where you can improve your skills, even if you are an experienced designer and drafter.

I have put together a free toolbox with resources that I personally use on weekly basis to expand my knowledge on design, drafting and business. You can get your free copy of this eBook by subscribing to my blog below.

 

Designer's Toolbox

Prepare Not to be Understood

Sadly not everyone will support or approve of your decision, and that is ok! Not every person has that entrepreneurial bug in them. Some people will never understand it, but that shouldn’t stop you from following your dream!

Protect Your Work Space

If you work out of your house this is very important. You have to make clear boundaries as far as work hours, work space, schedule, etc. I wrote a lot on this specific topic in the two posts below.

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11 tips for freelance drafters working from home

Backup Everything

You don’t want to skip on this one, believe me! Invest in a good external hard drive, cloud storage or whatever else you need to store your files. Last thing you want to happen is a deadline hanging over you with all files missing.

Learn to say NO

As you start your own business it’s so easy to jump on every opportunity and project that comes your way. It’s hard to say no as your are building your firm. Nonetheless, it’s important to keep the bigger picture and vision of your company in front of you. Is that the type of client you want to work with? Will that project undermine your integrity? Will taking on that project hinder your ability to take on future projects? These are the questions you must keep in mind as a visionary of your company.

Stay Organized

Now that you don’t have to report to and impress “the boss”, it’s easy to stop caring and have a messy workstation, files saved in weird “temporary” folders on the computer (we all know that those “temporary” folders become permanent folders) and drawings scattered all over the place. For some it comes naturally, for others it’s a struggle, regardless staying organized is crucial to running a successful business. Keeping track of your business expenses, receipts, income, checks, files, etc., will help you in the long run and save you headache later.

FireDon’t Burn Bridges

When you are ready to venture on your own, as much as you may want to, don’t say something that you will regret later on. Burning bridges with your former boss and coworkers will not add any value to your business. Keeping healthy relationship with your former boss can actually help you grow your business through referrals and possible outsourcing opportunities.

Learn to Wear Multiple Hats

Owning your own firm means doing tasks that you never did before. At least in the beginning, you are the owner, accountant, marketer, drafter, designer and other positions you never even thought existed. Depending on your business growth and personal strengths, there will come a point when hiring or outsourcing some of these tasks will make more sense. Until then, get used to doing a lot of research.

I would love to hear your thoughts. Are you a freelancer? Do you own your own business? What lessons did you learn?

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Introduction to SolidWorks from Grupo Redraw

­­So far we have covered wide range of topics on DraftingHub, starting with general drafting business tips, drafting equipment and setup, and ending with specific post on software like Revit and SketchUp. Today, I’m exited to share a post about something that hasn’t been covered yet on DraftingHub, SolidWorks.

This weeks guest post comes from my friends at Grupo Redraw. Grupo Redraw is a Brazilian website, formed by ten mechanical draftsmen, whose goal is to share videos, tutorials, tips and any kind of information related to CAD/CAM/CAE universe. In this post they talk about the capabilities of SolidWorks.

Enjoy!


SolidWorks is a CAD/CAE software, developed by DassaultSystèmes. The first release was in 1995, and since then, new functions have been added to increase the software capabilities. Focused in mechanical industry, SolidWorks has different tools to increase the draftsmen’s productivity, such as, sheet metal, weldments, surfacing, mold, costing, technical drawing, render and piping tools. We decided to ask each “Redrawer” the capabilities and how SolidWorks helps them in their jobs. The answers are as follows:

Andre_MalacridaAndré Malacridahas been a SolidWorks user since 2009. Bachelor in Production Engineering and industrial mechanic technician, André works in the automotive industry, as a project engineer at a special truck body company.

I’m a project engineer at an automotive company. Using SolidWorks, I have developed several products and devices in different areas, such as automotive, food, aerospace and electronics assembly. Nowadays, I work at a company that uses SolidWorks for the product development. We produce special truck bodies and install bucket truck equipment. The sheet metal and weldments resources of the software speeds up all the process with quality and reliance warranty of the right operation after production.

Bruno_WaldmannBruno Waldmann has been a SolidWorks user since 2010. Automotive technician and mechanical engineering academic, Bruno works in the oil & energy industry, as a draftsman at a customized equipment metalworking company.

I work at a customized equipment company. Therefore, each new project is a new challenge. SolidWorks is the perfect CAD tool for me, because besides the large number of resources that the software offers, I can unify different project areas, for example, weldments, sheet metal, piping, and other. Due to the fact that this software is used worldwide, it’s easy for me to use 3D models developed by suppliers in our projects, as other file extensions as *step and *x_t are allowed. The possibility to use software that allows simulating the components interaction before fabrication isprimordial, whereas I can evaluate gaps, interferences, collisions and make FEA analysis to validate my project. The challenge of creating a high quality project that attends the customer needs is much easier when you have a powerful tool as SolidWorks.Bruno_Work_1Bruno_work_2

Eduardo_SchaeferEduardo Schaefer has been a SolidWorks user since 2007. Industrial mechanic technician and mechanical engineering academic, Eduardo works in the automotive industry, as an Industrial director at his own metalworking company.

I’m an owner of a ball mounts and trailer hitches company. SolidWorks is fundamental in many steps and processes, for example, parts and assembly detailing for production, user guide creation for stores and workshops, FEA analysis for better safety on the projects, sheet metal planification for laser cut, renders for catalogs and advertises. A fantastic tool, essential for an industry.

Gregory_GuimaraesGregory Guimarãeshas been a SolidWorks user since 2009. Industrial mechanic technician and architecture and urbanism academic, Gregory works in the furniture industry, as a draftsman at a customized office furniture company.

I work at an office furniture company, and use several types of items and panel thickness (MDF and MDP) for project developing. With SolidWorks it’s possible to prepare all the right parts and dimensions for each need, resulting on an elaborated technical detailing, with cut table and accurate item quantity. The 3D modeling on my segment is very simple, but mostly of the assemblies are composed by a large number of components. Everything in their right places by the positioning resources offered. Most of the time, I can have total control of what has been designed and what will be produced, except cases that demand manual activity. SolidWorks has integration with company system, so we can measure the material cost and have a better warehouse control.Greg_Work_2

Gustavo_CollingGustavo Colling has been a SolidWorks user since 2002. Industrial mechanic technician and mechanical engineering academic, Gustavo works in the automotive industry, as an intern at a tire company.

SolidWorks provides me a better time earning on everyday, making me design, validate and detail my projects the quick and easy way, with quality. And if it’s necessary to optimize or edit a project, all the parts automatically edit themselves, shortening the delivery date of the project to the customer.

Halif_CardosoHálif Cardoso has been a SolidWorks user since 2010. Industrial mechanic technician, Hálif works in the machinery industry, as a draftsman at a ceramic machinery company.

I work at a company that produces machines for the ceramic industry. I’m the only draftsman/designer of the company. SolidWorks is a fundamental tool for our production line, especially for the new machine developing and changes on existing projects. Making that before fabrication, in an assembly, I can analyze and correct some errors, such as, possible hole misalignment, distance between gear centers, parts positioning and appearance details. With SolidWorks,I can develop the technical drawings and exploded views of the machines, FEA analysis, sheet metal planification, *dwg files for EDM machines. Besides the fact of being of a great help on the technical manuals creation for our costumers, and on part relations for us to maintain a correct stock, without trouble. Undoubtedly,it’s a fantastic software that, if used well, allows the draftsman to create a better product, in a faster and an economic way, reducing a great deal of any fabrication error.Halif_work_1

Heitor_RibeiroHeitor Ribeiro has been a SolidWorks user since 2012. Industrial mechanic technician and mechanical engineering academic, Heitor works in the automotive industry, as a draftsman in a sport wheels company.

I work at a company of automotive sport wheels with more than 30 years of expertise. Creating the next model to be launched is always a challenge. What makes this work less difficult is the powerful CAD tool used on the development process, SolidWorks. Whenever a more complex design is requested, with more attractive curves to catch the customer attention without missing the technical side, the surfacing tools of SolidWorks makes me guarantee the desired design with the precision expected. The 3D modeling of the product is where the process starts and SolidWorks is still efficient in the next step, the design of the wheel mold. With specific tools for mold design it’s possible to create cavities and make the assembly with all the parts needed, besides the technical drawings and tool list.Heitor_Work_1

Luiz_Claudio_LimaLuiz Claudio Lima has been a SolidWorks user since 2013. Mechatronic technician and mechanical engineering academic, Luiz Claudio works as a freelancer designer.

I’m a mechanical engineering student and freelance mechanical draftsman. I use SolidWorks in all of the steps of my projects, from the 3D modeling to the validation and from the 2D detailing to the fabrication, in several industrial sectors. I use SolidWorks as default project software, because of its user friendly interface and large number of specific features for each project, like sheet metal, surfaces, weldments, mold design and others.

Marco_PereiraMarcos Pereira has been a SolidWorks user since 2005. Mechanical Engineer and MBA on project management, Marcos works in the automotive industry, as a product technical coordinator of a plastic injection company.

In my career, SolidWorks is the main cad tool. I use it for the new products and tools development, simple or complex. I’m a mechanical draftsman of products, devices and molds for plastic injections. I see SolidWorks as an intuitive development environment. It maximizes the productivity of a project resources and engineering for the new product creations with more efficiency, speed and economy due to the processes and mechanism simulation that the software offers.

Rodrigo_FernandesRodrigo Fernandes has been a SolidWorks user since 2009. Managing processes technologist, Rodrigo works as a CAD/CAM instructor and a freelance designer.

I have been working with CAD software for six years, and I’m also a Grupo Redraw founder. SolidWorks serves us well on the constant industrial growth in Brazil. In my case, I use SolidWorks to design products on the medical segment. Machines, equipment and tools that help to validate hospital and laboratorial processes seeking the security of people’s health. I like to work in this segment so much, since it is possible to see that the products we make with SolidWorks are helping people. With the same inspiration, we keep Grupo Redraw alive helping people that want to get this industrial knowledge in a free and simple way.Rodrigo_Work_1

As you can see, SolidWorks can be a powerful tool to increase your productivity on projects, and it’s not hard to learn. For further more information, access www.gruporedraw.com.br.

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The Perfect Workflow | 10 Tips To Become a Highly Productive Drafter

Have you ever had this happen to you? You were designing in CAD or just drafting away and got so into it that you “zoned out” everything and everyone around you. When you “woke up” from that trance, you were surprised of the amount of work you have accomplished. I think any good drafter/designer with some experience knows exactly what I’m talking about. I call this “The Perfect Workflow”.
Have you ever tried to look back and figure out exactly what created this perfect workflow? Are there certain things we can do to recreate that hyper productive environment? I believe we can!

I tried to look back and analyze what creates my perfect workflow and want to share my observations below. Now, I do understand that we are all different, and what works for me may not work for you. My hope is that these tips and observations will help you create your own perfect workflow.

Music#1 Good Music

There is something about good music that helps our productivity. The right playlist can boost your productivity and help you focus. When it comes to drafting, I personally can’t listen to all types of music. For example when I have to type notes I can’t listen to anything with lyrics. On the other hand, when I design a floor plan or draw details, I’m open to any type of music. Sometimes though, music can become a distraction, especially when your coworker plays something you can’t stand. This leads me to my next point.

#2 Silence

Sometimes best work is done in silence. Just you, CAD and your project… Sounds kind of weird when I put it this way, but you know what I mean. Right?

#3 No Interruptions

Don’t you hate it when you are just getting into the “zone” and someone keeps interrupting you. Coworker, boss, email or phone call, there is always something that will stand between you and that perfect workflow. In fact, according to this New York Times article, study shows that “each time a worker was distracted from a task, it would take, on average, 25 minutes to return to that task.” If you want to get anything done, you must protect your workflow.

#4 Good Equipment

Having a good computer (laptop) that doesn’t freeze, multiple monitors, mouse that you like and keyboard that fits you well is crucial for the perfect workflow. This equipment is the most important tool for a drafter and worth investing into.

#5 Fast Internet

If you are not careful, this one can become a “double edged sword”. Having a good internet connection is important for productivity, but can serve as a distraction at the same time. Without discipline, one minute you can be working on a section cut of a house and next minute watching funny cat videos. Software like StayFocused, can be used to block certain websites for specific period of time to help you… well, stay focused.

Moleskine#6 Have a Notepad or Evernote Open

Sometimes during work I get random thoughts and ideas that keep bugging me and unless I write them down, they may disrupt my workflow. I found it a good practice to have my Moleskine nearby or Evernote open to capture these thoughts and ideas. I especially love Evernote, which I use for everything. You can read more about how I utilize Evernote in my drafting firm here.

#7 Comfortable workstation

If your chair makes squeaking noises every time you move, mat under the chair serves absolutely no purpose because it’s held together by duct tape and your desk is almost falling apart, you need to ask your boss to set up a new workstation for you. Also, these and other similar things may stop you from being productive. You may want to consider setting up standing/sitting workstation, it works really well for me. I talk about my workstation set up here.

#8 Customized AutoCAD Workspace

I don’t know what it is, but I can’t work with “standard” AutoCAD workspace setup. Call me old fashioned, but I like the simple “minimalistic” look of the classic workspace. This whole “ribbon” thing is too distracting, I’m more of a “command” kind of drafter. Less clicks I do with the mouse, the faster I draft. After eleven years of drafting with AutoCAD, I think in commands, well maybe not but you know what I mean.

#9 Task Batching

Trying to multitask kills my productivity. Some say they can multitask, but I believe it’s a myth. To be highly productive in a limited amount of time I like to use technique called “time batching”. Basically the idea is simple, you dedicate blocks of time to similar tasks. This helps your brain to focus on one task at a time and as a result become more productive. It really works! You can read more about this concept here.

Tea#10 Drinking Tea

Maybe that’s breaking the rules of drafting office standards, but I’ve never been a big fan of coffee. I love tea though, and found it to be one of the factors that contributes to my perfect workflow.

                                                                             

What are your thoughts? I would love to hear from you. What helps you create that perfect workflow? Anything that was not mentioned in my list? Please comment below with your observations and tips.

                                                                               

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

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10 Tips For Your First Day in Revit

Today’s post is a guest article written by James Herndon. James is an Architect and BIM Consultant currently living in Boise, Idaho. He has been working with Revit for over a decade, he helps clients make the transition to Revit and keeps a blog at RevitAnswers.com. Also, make sure to follow him on Twitter @RevitAnswerGuy.

Enjoy this post and please share if you find it helpful!


21-HeadshotJust a few years ago there was still a lingering question about whether the industry would truly transition to BIM or not. Nowadays, the question most firms are asking isn’t if but when they will make the switch. You may have heard there’s a steep learning curve with Revit. As a BIM consultant I work with Revit newbies all of the time and I can definitely tell you that there is a big difference between those that transition quickly and smoothly and those that struggle and fail, and that difference is almost always mental. Here are my tips to help you get over a few hurdles on your first day in Revit.

#1 Don’t be afraid to push buttons and see what happens

Learning a new software program is always intimidating but don’t forget your best friend: ctrl-z (undo). Typically you can back out of anything you try so don’t be afraid to see what different buttons do. Just be sure to save often, especially right before you push that new button, but if you do find yourself in a jamb you can always shut down without saving. The only way you’ll learn Revit is by doing it, so don’t be afraid!

#2 Remember you are no longer drawing, you’re building

This is probably the biggest hurdle for people coming over from AutoCAD or Microstation and it’s purely mental. You’re not using a new drafting program, what you are doing now is fundamentally different; you’re actually building your project and you will need to rethink your typical workflow and processes a bit, this is normal, but it can be frustrating, so keep an open mind about the change.

21-Revit#3 Don’t be afraid to ask “dumb” questions

I can’t tell you how many complex workarounds I’ve seen my clients cob together in Revit for things that already have a button or solution in place. For instance one firm I consulted with had developed a pretty complex annotation family for spot elevation callouts when Revit has a spot elevation tool right next to the dimension tool. Instead of saying: “hey how do you do this?” they spent hours on a problem that could have taken just a few seconds.

#4 Know who to ask

So who do you ask if you have a question in Revit? Sure you can call your reseller, but many aren’t Revit experts per se, but don’t worry, there are a ton of amazing online resources, try typing your question into google with the word Revit in there somewhere and see what you get, or try hitting the F1 key on your keyboard (this takes you to Revit’s online help file) or you can ask a question on revitcity.com or www.revitforum.org or www.augi.com/forum or visit www.revitanswers.com and get a hold of me, maybe I can help!

#5 Spend a bit of time and learn the lingo

There is nothing more frustrating than having a question but not knowing how to communicate the problem. A good live teacher will try and find the meaning in what you ask but when you’re typing a question into google or a forum’s search bar it will only be able to search for the terms you type in and those might not be the terms Revit uses.

#6 Be super careful about what you delete 

21-Don't DeleteI know I said to push buttons and learn by diving in, but one thing to keep in mind is that you need to be careful about what you delete out of a project. If there is a stray line in your live detail it might be a part of a wall or the roof just poking in and by deleting that simple line you may be deleting your entire roof! If you delete something like this you might not notice it for quite a while and by then it may be too late to undo, so when in doubt remember you can always “hide” things or EH (Element Hide) on your keyboard. Remember that people who are redlining your drawings won’t know this either, so take terms like ‘delete this line’ with a grain of salt, know what you’re deleting.

#7 Go look at what you’re modeling regularly

A lot of newbies forget that they are building instead of drawing and that even though what they see in plan looks great it may look horrible in elevation or a section, so do yourself a favor and take a few leisurely strolls through a 3D perspective view every now and again, or learn to use the “section box” in an isometric 3D view and go look at what you’re making.

#8 Don’t compare Revit and CAD

Getting back to that “Mental” thing: If you spend all of your time focusing on the things that were super easy in AutoCAD but you’re having trouble with in Revit, then you’ll overlook all of the awesome new tools and features you get with BIM. I guarantee that if you work in Revit for a year then you will shudder at the thought of going back to “dumb” lines, even if you did have a better ‘text’ or ‘trim’ tool in AutoCAD.

#9 Practice first

I know it’s not always an option, but I typically recommend that my clients complete an entire old project in Revit for practice before they dive in on a live project with a tight budget or timeline. In Revit the process for modeling a ceiling is entirely different than the process for modeling a door. You’ll want to try out every process that you’ll run into on a typical project at least once before you try it on the clock.

#10 Don’t Give up!

Don’t give up! I like to compare CAD to Revit in the same way you could compare a bike and a motorcycle. Revit might be more difficult to learn and will take patience, but once you master it you will never go back and it’s the path to everything down the line!

21-CAD vs Revit

                                                                         

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