Tuesday, January 30, 2007

CAD Mgmt Toolbox: Notebook

Get a notebook and carry it with you everywhere. I’m not talking about a notebook computer (though that would be nice). I’m talking about a good, old-fashioned, spiral notebook with lined paper. You can invest in a nice Day-Timer® or similar system, but if you are innately a “problem-solver” you will feel “restricted” by this type of system. To you, any system eventually needs to be improved. So a Day-Timer or similar system may not work for you right now. And stop using sticky notes, “while you were out” pads, backs of envelopes, etc. That system isn’t really working either, is it? Get a notebook that is easy for you to keep up with and write in anywhere. And when I say carry it everywhere, I mean everywhere. I’ve actually had a people follow me into the restroom and start talking to me about a project.

You’re going to use your notebook to list the tasks that need to be done, track the things you do, and summarize meetings and conversations. Let me get really specific. Every night, make a task list for the next day on one half of the page (imagine the page has two columns, draw a line, whatever – I’m not going to get that specific). Prioritize the top three things that have to be done. Now, during the day, keep track of what you actually do in the other column. Keep looking at those top three priorities for the day and use whatever time you can to accomplish them.

Okay, so far, all I’ve told you is how to use up more of your precious time each day making lists and taking notes. Now let me talk about why you want to do this – because you don’t know what you don’t know. If you are going to be successful in accomplishing your goals, you need to know what they are and head toward them with your daily tasks. If you want to spend time accomplishing those goals, you will need to identify how your present time resources are spent. Once you know what the largest time wasters are you can work toward minimizing or eliminating them. The daily task list and time tracking takes discipline, but the result is more focus (and at first, more frustration) on your priority tasks and more information for defining improvements. For example, if you are daily restoring files from backup media, you probably have some training and procedure issues to do. If you are clearing paper jams in the plotter every two to three days, you probably need to make a support call, etc.

Tell me about your time management tools. Let me know what you’ve tried, what’s worked, and what hasn’t worked.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

CAD Mgmt Toolbox: LinkedIn

I registered at LinkedIn.com recently. Guy Kawasaki had a couple of great posts about them so I decided to give it a try.

Fellow CAD Bloggers and CAD Managers, please get connected at LinkedIn.

Guy's posts about LinkedIn :
Ten Ways to Use LinkedIn
LinkedIn Profile Extreme Makeover

Saturday, January 13, 2007

5 CAD Related Things You Don't Know About Me

After I retrieved Ward Romberger's email from my spam folder, I almost put it back. But, in the spirit of “community” I’ll go along with the game. So, “5 CAD related things you don’t know about me”...

1. I got started with AutoCAD after graduating with a BS in Computer Science. I hadn’t found a programming job yet, so I enrolled in some drafting classes. I took a CAD class which consisted of the professor handing us an “Introduction to AutoCAD” book and pointing to the computer. I was hooked. When I took the second class, the professor handed us an “Applying AutoCAD” book, pointed to the computer, and said, “If you have any questions, ask Durkee.” Thanks, Dr. Beckham.

2. During this same time, my brother-in-law heard that I was getting interested in CAD. He had a friend at church that was using AutoCAD, so he arranged for me to meet with him. So, I drove from Oklahoma City to Dallas/Fort Worth and met with Matt Nations of Institutional Interiors for a few minutes. Then he handed me a book, pointed to the computer, and said “see you in the morning.” I spent that night working through most of the book and then met with him for a few minutes the next morning to discuss how this AutoCAD thing could really be used. Thanks Matt and Jim (my brother-in-law).

3. The beginning of my first “real” job went something like this… I was at a couples Bible study and overheard someone across the room say “…AutoCAD…” I’m normally very shy, but like I said, I was hooked. I went and asked him about it. He was an engineer at an AE firm and said they were hiring. I went and interviewed with Jimmy Mock and Jim Shelton for the project they were hiring for. They showed me some bluelines and asked if I could read them. They were as-built drawings for a Federal Government client. The job was creating AutoCAD files from those bluelines on the night shift. They handed five of us the bluelines, pointed to the computers, and said “see you in the morning.” Thanks Richard, Jim, and Jimmy.

4. When AutoLISP was released I got really excited. Okay, maybe not excited, but much less reserved. We started writing routines to help us speed through the as-builts. When the first phase of the project ended, the deliverables included a custom menu system for the COE to keep the drawing up-to-date. They moved us from nights to days and put us to work in various discipline departments. I did some work for Civil and Structural until my former night supervisor, Mike Ogden, and Jimmy Mock convinced the powers that be that my talents would be better used writing LISP and menu code. Thanks Mike and Jimmy.

5. Sometimes I get a little obsessed with work. Okay, maybe retentive is a better word. I remember one time soon after my daughter was born we were going through some intense training on a plant design package called PASCE. As a result of the brain cram during the day and the sleep interruptions at night, I remember having the groggy realization one night that the reason my daughter was crying was because her GTYP wasn’t set. Thanks to all of you former PASCE users out there – you’re the only ones who probably understood that one.

6. (A bonus since number 5 was vague.) I am probably the only CAD blogger with a son whose initials are CAD. No, it wasn’t intentional. Yes, the son was, but the CAD part wasn’t.

Now let’s see if Ralph and Joel are willing to join the game.