The Effective Architect Part 5: Automate Your Tasks
Automate your tasks
Automation is making a process automatic and reducing the amount of human interaction required to complete it. Automating your tasks means less of your effort is required to get them done. Sounds good, right? There are many ways you can automate your tasks. The key idea with each method is to make the process you’re automating consistent and repeatable. This way, you can optimize each step and continually make it better and more efficient. Automation takes time to plan and configure, but if done right, it can save you a lot of time in the long run.
21 - Work lazy
Working lazy is about working with maximum efficiency and minimum effort. It’s using your brain to outsmart a task, rather than just muscling through it. Next time you’re faced with a tedious task you need to get done, try to think lazy. As lazy as you can imagine. This doesn’t mean you can procrastinate. By thinking lazy, try to find the fastest way to get the task done while using the least amount of effort on your part. Of course, you’ll need to ensure the results are of sufficient quality, but thinking lazy up front can save you a lot of time in the end.
22 - Outsource your tasks
One easy way to automate that doesn’t require any advanced skills is to outsource a task. With outsourcing, you basically have someone else do the task for you. Simple! The challenge is finding the right person for the job. Several online companies, like Fancy Hands and Upwork, provide outsourcing services for everything from administrative tasks to more specialized, technical projects. One downside to outsourcing is that you do need to manage the process and be clear about the end results you want. For certain types of tasks, this can require a lot of time.
23 - Use templates
Do you send similar emails frequently? Save a copy as a template. Do you use similar documents from one project to the next? Save a copy as a template. Same goes with CAD and BIM: create a high-performance Revit template that contains all of your standard details, families, and sheets. You can save a ton of time and reduce errors by standardizing the documents you produce. Reuse everything.
24 - Write macros
Why do the grunt work when your computer can do it for you? Use macros to automate repetitive tasks. Macros are small programs that operate inside of a software application. Microsoft Excel has a great macro environment. What you can do is record your actions inside Excel as a macro. The macro editor translates everything you do on the screen into code, which you can edit as needed. This is actually how I got started coding.
A lot of other applications have macro environments as well. Revit has macros but not a macro recorder. So if you want to create macros in Revit, you have to type out the code. Dynamo is a really good option, since it’s visually based and doesn’t require you to type code. Macros are an easy way to get started learning how to program. Since they work inside an application, you’re already working in a familiar environment.
25 - Learn to program
Learning to program is a challenging but rewarding endeavor. Believe me, I know. It took me several tries before I finally got over the learning curve. What helped was to learn by solving my own problems. I had a lot of tedious tasks to do and needed a way to make my life easier. My first programs weren’t pretty but they saved me a lot of time. In addition, I learned that creating my own tools was extremely empowering and a very effective way to work smarter. You don’t need to become a professional programmer to benefit from learning to code. You can use this skill to solve all kinds of problems you face every day. Want some help getting started? Check out this list of resources.
This concludes our 25 ways to work more effectively. Now the last thing I want to leave you with is make sure to take care of yourself. You are your most valuable asset. There's no other person like you, so make sure you get enough sleep and watch your health. Be sure to exercise, move your body, and eat well. Take breaks. Keep an eye on your energy levels. Nurture your relationships and don't work too hard. Remember, it's not all about the work in the end.