June 07, 2017

88 Ways an Architect Can Simplify Their Life


Being an architect and designing the built environment is an important job, and important jobs can usually be stressful.  You have to consciously make efforts to maintain peace within yourself and not let the pressures of your work weigh you down.  When the days seem like too much, use these tips below to simplify your life and make your career in architecture a little easier. 

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At Work

1. Delegate - When you have a pile of little tasks that keep building up, delegate the work to qualified employees.

2. Use organizational tools - Websites and apps like Evernote, Trello, and Google Docs help you to manage your notes and documents all in one place.

3.  Calendar tools - To help you plan and keep appointments, dates, calls, and more, make use of calendar apps that can sync with all of your devices.

4. Close tabs and programs - When your day is over, exit out of programs!  Sometimes it is difficult to reopen programs because your file is very large, so at least exit out every other day.

5. Automatic save - Programs like AutoCAD and Revit allow you to set up reminders at whatever intervals you want so that you can save your hard work.

6. Keep your workspace tidy - Creatives claim to flourish in the mess our work, but even creatives can work better in a clutter-free space.

7. “Home” desk drawer - Keep a work drawer with toothpaste, a toothbrush, snacks, bottled water, maybe even a change of clothes.

8. Plan your days - Bullet journals or a detailed daily block schedule can help you stay on track and be accountable for certain tasks during the day.

9. Be ok with plans changing - If things don’t go as planned, roll with the punches, and get back to your planned schedule once the hectic times are over.

10. Measure twice, cut once - Double check all of your work and get things right the first time.

11. Show respect - You will always have to work with other professionals, so make each interaction a good one whether you agree or disagree with them.

12. Streamline your processes - If you have a system in place to handle your routine work, it will make it a lot easier.  Make a “how to” layout to help you remember all steps in a process.

13. Automate - For things that are routine and can be handled daily, weekly, or monthly without interference, set up automation.

14. Don’t multitask - Studies consistently show that our brains cannot focus on more than once thing at a time.

15. Enjoy the profession - Take moments to enjoy and be in awe of the work that you do.

16. Hire freelancers - Hire freelancers to help with your architecture firm’s non-design jobs like marketing and accounting.

17. Use new technology - Incorporating the latest architectural technology into your work routine will simplify your day.  Don’t be afraid to learn new technology or hire someone who specializes in it.

18. Update software - Installing new software updates for programs like AutoCAD and Revit because they fix any bugs that the programs may have and update them to include new features.

19. Stand up at your desk - This simplifies your life by helping your circulation, lessening how sedentary you are, and helping your health.

20. Take breaks - Schedule breaks into your day.  Allow yourself to have a few minutes of downtime so that you can reset and return to work feeling refreshed and recharged.

21. “Cloud” storage - Make life easy for you and the people that you work with by making documents available on the cloud.

22. Block schedule - Set a specific time deadline, or a “block” of time, for tasks throughout your day on your schedule.

23. Know how long it takes - Learn how long it takes to complete certain tasks so that you can dedicate just the right amount of time to them in your schedule

24. Know your time limits - Don’t overschedule yourself or try to do things that you have no experience in if you don’t have time to learn how to do them.

25. Decorate with inspiring images - For moments when you need inspiration, make it easy for yourself.  Hang inspiring images in your work area to remind you of what makes you happy.

26. Subscribe to useful email newsletters - Stay up-to-date on the latest news in the architecture industry by subscribing to helpful newsletters.

27. Unsubscribe from junk newsletters - If you never read newsletters from a particular website or brand, unsubscribe!

28. Prioritize - When you have a lot of deadlines to meet, each task can seem like it is the most important.  Prioritize by asking yourself

29. Say NO - It is ok to say no to things that aren’t beneficial to your work, your goals, or your time.

30. Say YES - When you’re afraid you won’t do well or start to question yourself, say yes. You will find a way to make it work.

31. Limit distractions - When you are in a block of time that is dedicated to working, do things to limit your distractions.  Put a sign on your door or turn your phone on “Do Not Disturb” to help minimize distractions.

32. “No Questions” hours - Set a few hours each day for your employees and coworkers to work without distracting each other.

33. Make your bed every day - This small action helps gear your brain to be productive for the day because you have accomplished the act of completely making your bed.

34. Recycle - Set up an organized recycling station at your desk or in your office.  You can recycle things like paper, plastic bottles, straws, and more.

35. Donation box - Keep a box that you slowly add things that you no longer use to and when it is full, see next step…

36. Donate - Donate working items that you don’t use anymore, such as clothes, furniture, and electronics.

37. Curate your closet - Curate your closet so that you can make several outfits with a small amount of items overall to make it easier to get dressed each day.

38. Purge - Get rid of clothes and items in your home and at work that you don’t use.

39. Break down tasks - Make large tasks more manageable by completing them in a lot of smaller tasks.

40. Learn to stop - Don’t overdesign.  Learn to stop working on projects and accept them as complete.

41. Get a mentor - Having a mentor in the design field will help guide you throughout your career.

42. Quality of quantity - For work and your personal life, strive to provide quality over quantity



43. Check emails once - If you set aside a time in your block schedule to check emails, it will enable you to follow this rule.  Only check an email once and respond to it immediately.

44. Set up an email response time (or a few, unless urgent) - When you’re not in the time block to respond to emails, DON’T RESPOND TO EMAILS!

45.  Automated email responses - Automating your email responses during a busy time can allow the email senders to know that you will get to their email as soon as possible.

46. “Canned” emails - Gmail has a clever system called “canned responses” that allows you to send a saved response for general inquiry emails.

47. Keep emails brief - Make your email responses brief by simply providing all of the necessary information so that the email is complete.

48. “To Respond” email folder - For emails that require more time to respond to, create a folder to save them in so that they won’t get lost in your inbox, and you’ll remember that they require a response.


Time Management

49. Plan tomorrow’s goals today - At the end of your work day, assess what you accomplished and write out what needs to be accomplished the next day.

50. Reconsider your to-do list - Is everything on your to-do necessary?  Could something be delegated?  Reexamine it to see how you can make a better use of your time.

51. Shorten your to-do list - A long to-do list is very daunting.  Try making multiple small lists for different times of the day and week and focus on the few tasks on them during their designated times.

52. “Most Important Tasks” list - Make a list that includes the most urgent tasks that you need to complete.

53. “To-don’t” list - A “Don’t” list can remind us to make the most of our time.  For example, don’t work on tasks that you’ve delegated to others.

54. Only handle things once (OHIO Method) - For small projects or things that don’t require much thought, make a decision/do the work the first time and be done with it.

55. Use templates - Make templates for recurring projects, paperwork, pitches, etc.  When you have to do the task over and over again, you won’t have to start from scratch each time.

56. Do the hard thing first - Once the hard task is done, all other tasks will feel like they aren’t hard to do.

57. Themed days - For example, make Mondays for city codes paper work, Tuesdays and Wednesdays can be for meetings with clients, Thursdays and Fridays for executing projects to completion.

58. 45 minutes on, 15 minutes off - Work hard with no distractions for 45 minutes, rest for 15 minutes.

59. Pomodoro technique - If 45 minutes on and 15 minutes off doesn’t work for you, try the Pomodoro Time Management technique.  This method requires you to work in shorter time intervals - work for 25 minutes, take a short break, then work for 25 more minutes.


Personal life, health, & mental well-being

60. Play classical music - Classical music is known to spark creativity, boost memory, and reduce stress.

61. Read - Keep your favorite architecture book handy and browse the pages of it when you need a mental break.

62. Celebrate the small wins - When you’re able to celebrate the small things, it makes difficult work more pleasurable.

63. Meditate - Practicing meditation helps you to stop worrying and feeling helpless and to understand and appreciate the simple things in life.

64. Exercise - Whether it's yoga, salsa, biking to work, or running on your lunch break, work your body in the same way that you work to keep your mind sharp.

65. Meal prep - Preparing your food in batches saves you time and money and can also be very healthy.

66. Unplug - Take a break from social media, texting and the internet.  When you eliminate the urge to constantly check your apps and messages, you automatically simplify your life.

67. Wake up early - When you wake up early and get everywhere on time, you reduce the most common first stressor of the day: running late.

68. Go to bed early - An early bedtime helps you to be more productive, avoid getting sick, and have a safer commute.

69. Get adequate sleep - Consistently getting a good night’s rest increases your creativity, sharpens your attention, and lowers your stress.

70. Drink water - Drinking more water has amazing health benefits that will enhance your quality of life, such as increasing your energy and boosting your immune system.

71. Morning routine - Establishing a morning routine will help you to get up at a set time, do the same few things, and get out of the house and to work on time each day.

72. Worry about only what you can change - Don’t waste time or devote energy to things that you do not have the power to change.  Instead, focus on making the situation work, and also on other things that you can change.

73. Don’t binge - Binge watching, binge drinking binge working all have a tendency to lead to burnout.  Do things in reasonable doses versus binging on them.

74. Live in the moment - Be present for the current moments in your life.  Thinking about the past too much or too far in the future can take a toll on you, so live in the now.

75. Realistic expectations - Realistic expectations can still be good and high expectations. Having real expectations details knowing what you can and can’t control, and being ok with it.

76. Ask for help - Getting help makes you more productive and relieves stress.

77. Don’t over plan - Don’t pack your day with back to back meetings; leave time for breaks, traveling, relaxing, and more.

78. Question the purpose of all things - Before accepting things into your life, be it a new client/project or a new movie for your collection, ask yourself how will it impact you.  If the impact is negative, don’t indulge in it.

79. Find your stress reliever and use it - Figure out what helps you to decompress from stress and use it.  Some examples are yoga, jogging, dancing and enjoying nature.

80. Be grateful - When you practice being grateful for what you have, versus constantly yearning different things, you will be happier.

81. Create a Continuing Education (CE) folder - Don’t forget about your continuing education requirements because you don’t keep up with them.  Make a folder with a checklist to remind yourself of when you need to take new courses.

82. Need vs. Want - You don’t need everything that you want, so learn to differentiate between the two.

83. Work from home - When possible, work from home to cut out commuting, reduce fuel and public transportation costs, and get a break from the workplace atmosphere.

84. Set professional goals - Having goals in your career helps you want to be better, work more efficiently, and helps cut out distractions.

85. Listen to audiobooks - When time doesn’t allow for sitting and reading a good book, listen to the audiobook version.

86. Tell the truth - Tell your employees when you need them to perform their job better, or tell them when they’re doing an awesome job.

87. Respond - Tell prospective clients no when you feel like they won’t be a good client or if you don’t have time to work with them, instead of never responding to them.

88. Give praises - Show appreciation when it is due.