Several things made last year easier for us, and a lot of them have been technology based. I would bet that a lot of us have been using technology more and more to connect with our loved ones as well as our colleagues. Technology has allowed us to track Covid-19 infections, work on our company’s servers from the comfort of our homes, order meals, and maintain some level of social connection. These abilities have improved our quality of life in direct and indirect ways, and I’m grateful to have access to the latest technology available.
I maintain a paperless, cloud-based home office and only print documents on occasion when it is absolutely necessary. I use my local Office Depot to print large format drawings. With that being said, my tech game needs to be at the highest level, so that I don’t depend on written lists or scribbled notes that are easy to misplace. I have utilized tech to keep me on task, on time, and on point as I go throughout my work day. This blog post outlines the apps that I absolutely love and made 2020 a little smoother. I plan to use these apps to keep my momentum going throughout 2021.
Google is a Game Changer for Business Tech
I will wave the Google flag all day and everyday. I use the Google platform for cloud based file storage, email, web conferencing, document editing, browsing the Internet, you name it. I have really enjoyed the integrations between all of their apps, and the ease with which they allow me to stay cloud-based. I can work offline in their apps if I need to, but I am usually connected to the Internet. The apps work seamlessly between my computer and mobile devices. The Google Apps I use the most are the following:
- Google Chrome
- Google Drive
- Google Docs, Slides, Sheets
- Google Meet
- Google My Business
- Google Calendar
- Google Analytics
- Google Maps
- Google Photos
Not to sound like a proud parent or anything, but I love them all equally.
ClickUp Increases my Productivity
ClickUp is a free, task management app that works really well for my small business needs. I am able to organize tasks by projects and assign and schedule them as needed. It gives you the ability to change the status of tasks (like open, closed, etc.) which my work style thrives on. I can view a project’s task list in a calendar view, Gantt chart, list, or columns based on status depending on my needs. Larger and more complex teams may need to upgrade to a paid plan, but the free version works very well for my needs. ClickUp can work well for various work styles and can provide as many notifications and reminders as you need. As tasks are completed or “closed”, you can choose to view or hide them. I choose to view my closed tasks, so I can see the growing list of tasks I have conquered. Others may wish to hide them to keep a clean digital workspace and focus on the tasks at hand. All around, this app is a must have for my daily workflow.
Streamlining Social Media
2020 was a major year for me, since I made more social media posts for Seam than any other year of my life. In the past, I have not been enthusiastic about sharing a lot on my social media platforms. With my new company, I know how important it is for me to be active and visible online. I want to show my clients and future clients that I am an active part of the design industry and small business community. I have actually found that posting on social media to be fun and a real outlet for creativity. It is also an avenue to connections that may not have been made offline.
I used to think that I had to spend a lot of time on social media to generate interest and leads from followers, but I use a couple apps to make my time on social media much more productive. Snappa has been an awesome tool I use to create fun and on-brand graphics for social media. It is extremely easy to use and has stock photos, icons, and graphics that are customizable. I use Snappa’s tools to make my graphics the appropriate resolution for each platform and to keep the graphics engaging and high quality, which is what I want my clients to relate with my company. I use Buffer to schedule and post on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook. It makes it so easy to create content ahead of time and schedule the posts at ideal times, depending on the platform and audience.
Having Productive Online Meetings
Since the beginning of 2020, I have found that a basic level of proficiency in the major webinar and online meeting platforms is important. Your clients, colleagues, and friends and family will probably all use a mixture of Zoom, GoToMeeting, Skype, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams. I would try these all out at least once, in case a future contact wishes to have a meeting and only uses a certain web hosting platform. You’ll appear tech savvy and in the know without having to fumble to get started when it is time for the meeting.
In a former blog post, I mentioned the importance of being wary of screen fatigue. Understand that your colleagues spend hours of their day looking at a screen and will appreciate your attempts at keeping conversations succinct without sacrificing camaraderie. Depending on your team and its individuals’ work styles, it may be handy to send out an agenda before the meeting and make an effort to stick to the agenda. Some teams are more productive in a free-flowing approach to meetings, so use the approach that works best for all involved.
*not to scale
*for visual purposes only
Design and Drawing Production
My passion and work revolves around building projects and the interior and sustainable components of them. Technology abounds in the AEC (architecture, engineering, and construction) industry. Most of you will be familiar with blueprints which are in simple terms, the architectural drawings and diagrams of a designed building from which a construction manager can glean as much information that is needed to then physically build the building. To create these drawings, architects and designers drew or drafted them by hand. I learned hand drafting in college and am so very grateful to have also learned digital drafting. I create 3D models of building designs that are then used to create architectural drawings. As many architectural and interior design students do, I started by learning AutoCAD. AutoCAD is a digital drawing software used widely in many industries to create technical drawings.
The software I use now is called Revit, which is a powerful tool that was designed specifically for architectural teams and projects focused on creating smart, parametric, 3D models. Revit is made by AutoDesk, which created AutoCAD. Revit recently added cloud based collaboration components that allow architectural, engineering, and construction teams to view and edit the model in real time. This is a time and money saver for production teams and has real life positive impacts, such as clash detection which can prevent building system components from colliding once built physically. So, the designs are smart in this way and allow building teams to view every component of the building and its systems in 3D, virtually.
Revit’s 3D models can then be used to create renderings, which are life-like, colorful, visualizations of what the building will look like once built. There are many applications to create renderings including Revit’s built-in rendering capabilities.
Our need for technology is not going away. For my business operations, technology is key to productivity and producing the designs and drawings that my clients want. I enjoy the offline aspects of my work, such as in person client meetings, discussing options with material and furniture suppliers, etc. The industry is quickly evolving and the tech advances have made building projects more streamlined than ever. The collaboration and accessibility that is available thanks to technology increases the overall effectiveness of my work and the work of the teams I am a part of. On a daily level, technology allows me to be the productive business owner that I need to be.