There’s an old joke about quitting smoking; it’s very easy to quit, I’ve done it a hundred times.
I guess it’s very easy to make resolutions. Or create a blog, for that matter. It’s the tenacity to stick with it that wavers, and we’ve all fallen prey to it. In that vein, I’m just going to make a list of ten things I’d like to do more (or less) of this year.
1. Sketch more.
I’ll take this one from my college friend Bob Swinburne over at Vermont Architect. Sketching helps to put things in perspective (pun not intended) and freshen up your skills. We all stare at the screen too much every day, and it’s certainly easy enough to keep a notepad in your back pocket. We architects always have pens in our pockets anyway. It helps your mind work in three dimensions, which is what our clients want and the world sees anyway. It also ties into the next point:
2. Integrate SketchUp more fully into the design process.
We use SketchUp a lot here at the practical office, but it’s not totally integrated into our workflow. I’d like to begin to use it more fully as a design and documentation tool instead of just a presentation medium. It’s come a long way since i first started using it and it’s an amazing program.
3. Take more photos, and learn to use Photoshop and the full range of my camera.
Things that go hand in hand. Well, the box has been sitting here for a long time now. I need to bite the bullet and learn to use it. That way I can better prepare marketing materials and get some great photos of some of my projects.
4. Update my marketing materials and finally get a web site with a gallery uploaded.
Pretty straightforward. What better use of a slow economic time than to get your ducks in a row and improve your public face. Learning Photoshop will help advance this goal.
5. Detail more.
Time to update the detail library at the practical office, and standardize a few sheets that can be easily adapted for different project types.
6. Re-write our basic specifications package.
I’ve been dreading this one forever. It’s at the point now where it’s like Windows XP – ten years old, on its third service pack and held together by constant updates and patches. It needs a comprehensive rewrite to include a better set of green specifications and to weed out redundant items.
7. Procrastinate less through better organization.
Well, we always have to start somewhere. I’ve started with a (semi) clean desk and a couple of notepads for ideas. I developed a system in the last year that mostly works for me (and my ADHD, lol). I’ve gotten much better at keeping organized and following up on things, but there’s always progress to be made. Streamlining my process and workflow have helped, and I have a lot of ideas on how I can improve turnaround time without sacrificing the quality of our product.
8. Blog and write more.
Pretty obvious that I’ve been away for a while. Not for lack of motivation or inspiration, but mostly due to my inability to get my thoughts on paper. Writing things down certainly helps, and if it leads to more frequent and coherent blog posts, all the better for it.
9. Read more about the profession, and that includes the huge unread pile of magazines on my desk.
Part of the reason I hate reading about Architecture is the pretentious way much of it is presented and described; I tend to stick with the construction trade journals like Fine Homebuilding, the Journal of Light Construction and their ilk. So many of the glossy trades are all ads or are plastered with whatever commercial project du jour has been completed by Gehry or Zaha Hadid (I just like saying ‘Zaha Hadid’!). Couple that with all the negative news about our profession that has been in the news as of late and it makes for some depressing reading. But, there is much to be learned about the technical side of things in those magazines as well, and many of the modern glossies like Dwell or Green Builder have a lot to offer. I’m still on the fence about the AIA’s choice to go with ‘Architect’ and ditch Architectural Record after 20 years, as I am about the AIA itself (more on THAT in another post). Last time this happened, it resulted in the death of two excellent publications, Progressive Architecture and Architecture Magazine. There are a lot of books on Architecture and the profession that I’d like to finally get around to reading, and I’m not talking about the Hunger Games series.
10. Make Money.
Well, who wouldn’t want to make money instead of just breaking even. Architects have seen their profit margins deteriorate over the last several years to the point where they are razor thin. Not like they were huge to begin with, but at least there was a little room to move. One good thing about this recession has been the internal weeding out and constant evaluation of every part of the process and business. You simply have to learn to do more with less while maintaining your core service – produce a great set of plans at a reasonable price without sacrificing design or client expectations. This year will see more of the same to maintain the status quo unless things increase, which at least around here seems possible!
What are the things you are focusing on this year?