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The Effective Architect Part 4: Know Your Tools

by Michael Kilkelly , Principal, at ArchSmarter on May 14, 2019

In this 5-part series, we’re looking at 25 ways you can work smarter, not harder in 2019. In Part 4, we look at how to maximize your tools to get the most out of them.

Know your tools

We all use tools, whether we’re in the kitchen, the yard, or the office. Some of these are physical tools, some are digital. What tools do you use regularly for your work? What software are you in and out of every day? In Part 4 of this series, we’re looking at ways you can sharpen your digital skills and hone your approach like a true craftsperson.

16 - Take a tool inventory

What’s in your toolbox? And by tools, I don’t mean your specialized architectural toolsets! What I mean is take an inventory of all your tools, both physical and digital, that you use on a daily basis. Check out this example of a useful tool inventory. Evaluate each tool in context of the job you need it to do. Is the tool the right fit for the job? It’s better to have a few tools you really know how to use than lots of tools just gathering dust.

17 - Customize

After you've completed your tool inventory, the next step is to customize your tools so they work better for you. A good way to do this is to look at the workspace for that software. Get rid of all the clutter in the interface, just like you would do for your desk. Think about the ergonomics of your interface and how far you're going to have to move to access your tools. Shaving just a few seconds off an operation you perform frequently is going to save you a significant amount of time over the course of the year.

18 - Shortcuts

Use keyboard shortcuts. Most programs have keyboard shortcuts for commands. In many cases, you can even program your own shortcuts. Shortcuts mean fewer clicks, greater efficiency, and more streamlined work. Check out The Ultimate Guide to Revit Shortcuts or the AutoCAD shortcuts & hotkey guide and start using shortcuts today. 

19 - Training

When was the last time you had formal software training? If you’re like me, you probably just picked up the software and started learning it years ago. The problem is, we get stuck in old ways of working, especially when not using a program on a daily basis. That’s why I started the Excel for Architects series at ArchSmarter. I realized I didn’t know how to use any of the advanced features in Excel so I set out to learn them. Sometimes a little training goes a long way.

20 - Upgrades

When you're thinking about upgrading your digital or physical tools, consider the cost to your time as well as your wallet. Be sure the upgrade will pay for itself before you commit.  Ask yourself, am I going to be able to do things faster or do more than I could previously? Or is there a going to be a steep learning curve that I need to overcome before I can be productive? Make sure you're upgrading for the right reasons.

What’s next

Stay tuned for Part 5, the final part of this series, for a look at how you can use automation to speed through many of your tedious tasks.

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