(Image courtesy of David Schwarzenberg on Pixabay)
So, here’s a new one for you. Terrific Tuesday.
Why is this late blog post called Terrific Tuesday? Well, if you are like me and working from home in isolation in the Norfolk countryside, you sometimes forget what day it is. So much so, that you forget to put the right colour bin out on the right collection day. Along the same lines as my bin, I forgot to blog yesterday. We had food collections and deliveries going on, plus some of that food was for our elderly neighbours and we had to make sure that they had their essentials for the week. It’s all about pulling together right now, and we are trying out best to make sure that the elderly and vulnerable people that don’t have to be exposed to this horrible virus don’t have to be. So, my bad, I forgot to blog. I’m only human, after all.
Talking of humanity, lots of you now are being forced to work from home. What is that all about? How do you do it? What if you have young children? What if you don’t have space? Worse still, what if you are home because you have been laid off, or if you are in the UK, you have been ‘furloughed’ from your current job, under UK government guidelines?
This blog is all about making what might be a terrible Tuesday into a TERRIFIC one, however small those TERRIFIC steps you take may be. It’s a bit of a read, so be aware to set aside 10-15 minutes and maybe grab a cup of tea or coffee for a bit of ‘downtime’.
1 – WORKING FROM HOME
I have been fortunate enough to work from home for the last twenty years (yep, twenty), so I am suitably prepared for the working from home ‘thing’. However, it wasn’t always plain sailing. When I started working from home, my daughter was three and my son hadn’t even been born! Trust me, toddlers and laptops on coffee tables? Are you worried yet? This is our new ‘normal’ and it’s where many of you now find yourselves; at home, with a young family, not much space and work to do. So, how do you work from home? Well, here a few tips towards helping you through it.
Finding space to work in
We all live in different sized homes. I’m lucky to use a ‘study’ type room on the ground floor of my home as my home office. It also doubles as a recording studio when I get a six-string out to have a little jam and do some songwriting. Some of you simply do not have that kind of space. What do you do?
When I first started out as CAD freelancer, I worked from the dining room table and sometimes even the coffee table in the lounge. I made do, but it was tough, and I feel for all of you. It will be a big paradigm shift if you are not used to it. Be patient with yourselves (and your loved ones). It will take a bit of time to get used to.
If you have a spare room, use it. In my previous home, we had a large landing on the upper floor. We had a desk and chair there for all the family (and guests) to use, if they needed to. If you have a kitchen with a breakfast bar, perhaps use that as a workspace. Remember IKEA (and other furniture providers) deliver. Buy some inexpensive furniture. I know that in these times (to try to save money) using the likes of Gumtree and eBay is difficult as you are not allowed out to collect, but perhaps offer to arrange a courier. Not only is this keeping the courier in work, but you might be helping someone pay their bills too by buying the furniture. Be flexible, be innovative. There are some great couriers out there who do not charge as much as you might think.
Just to give you an idea of the cost, brand new. You can get a tabletop with four screw-on legs from IKEA, plus an inexpensive office chair, and it will cost you in the region of £70 (plus shipping) for all of it. Here are the links for the landing desk and chair we had in our previous home: –
LINNMON tabletop with ADILS legs – £16
FLINTAN office chair – £55
Do what is comfortable for you, both space-wise and financially, but look at it as an investment. In present times, working from home will be a marathon, not a sprint, and maybe even consider working from home permanently. If you can get it right, it can be a superb work/life balance.
Your working day
You might be working at home, but that doesn’t mean that you work in your pyjamas or swimsuit, right? It’s all about your professional demeanour and how you get into ‘work mode’. Make sure you still get up at a sensible time after a good night’s sleep, shower (and shave) and dress appropriately. Not suit and tie kind of dress, but smart casual. You will normally find me in a polo shirt and jeans, for example, not a Grateful Dead tour shirt and flowery swim shorts. Always be prepared for that video call from your boss who might need a face-to-face to discuss a business item.
Timing isn’t so important. Don’t stress about it. Relax. You don’t have to be at the ‘home office’ dead on 8am for coffee if you don’t want to be. Spend that family time with your significant other half (and children). Have a family breakfast. It’s important in these stressful times to connect with your loved ones and grab that valuable time that you can have with them. Then, just make a timetable around that time and stick to it. Nowadays, my family time comes first, and I work around it, building in all my work, business calls and learning time. Be flexible and explain to other work colleagues about when you are available too. It then helps them to know and schedule calls to you. It will never be perfect, but try it, and endeavor to keep that balance.
Also, remember that time is finite. We only get one chance, with no rehearsal. See this as a blessing, not a curse, and realise that you CAN make this work. If your boss sees your kids playing in the background on a video call, ask your boss if he/she wants to meet them. Explain to your kids that this is who you work with, and perform those social interactions; “Hello, my name is….”. We spend too much time engrossed in our screens, so let’s use them to be human beings, right?
Your mental health
We live in worrying times. Your mental health is VERY important. You need to stay grounded and some of us find that easier to do than others. Take that time out. Go for a short walk close to your home if you can. Read a book. Sit in your garden. Get some sunshine.
Something I have found incredibly useful, that uses technology in our ever-present mobile phones, are apps that promote calm and mental well-being. My two favourites are Headspace and Calm . These might work for you, they might not. Try to find time for yourself, away from all and everything. Even if only for ten minutes. That little oasis of calm will help you. It doesn’t even have to be meditation. It could be making a cup of tea, or just stroking the cat. Do whatever works for you.
2 – YOUR CAREER AND YOUR LIVELIHOOD
We are living in uncertain times. Many people are losing their jobs and it is a worry for all of us. A lot of us see ourselves as the breadwinners, the ones who go out to work and bring in the money to keep it all afloat. You are that person, it’s just that your circumstances have changed. You may still have a job. You may have lost your job, and that makes for a TERRIBLE Tuesday, or does it? Re-training to do something new is not a bad thing. It’s not defeat. See it as another direction, a new path to follow.
As you may or may not know, I create online learning material for LinkedIn Learning around the Autodesk design application, AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT. As a LinkedIn Learning author and instructor, I cannot promote learning enough. LinkedIn Learning have a phrase that is a great hashtag, #alwaysbelearning. So, how can you always be learning? Well, you are now working from home or stuck at home, depending on your circumstances. It’s time to be that bit more flexible in your approach.
Develop a learning plan
I teach at Autodesk University (AU) every year and have done so since 2006. I teach a class called “How Do YOU Learn?” which discusses this, and it can be a simple plan, or a complex plan. It’s entirely up to you. All I suggest you do is modulate your plan and set a timetable. One day a week, one hour a day. It’s up to you, based on YOUR circumstances. You can find my class on the AU website here. The class was videoed, and its about 54 minutes long and you will need an Autodesk account login too. This class will give you a good idea of how to develop your own learning plan.
Again, be flexible, and simply start with what you can. Your plan can be organic and grow. Make it a blended plan incorporating note-taking, books, online learning, podcasts. Use whatever material you need. I find a decent notebook and a good quality pen always help.
Start a learning subscription
Now you might see this as blatant self-promotion. It is, and it isn’t. I have taught people how to use AutoCAD since 1988, in one way or another, and I see myself as a mentor, not just an instructor or author. I have found my home and that home is LinkedIn Learning. I love to pass on my knowledge to others and LinkedIn Learning is a perfect medium for it. I know that some of you already use LinkedIn Learning, and some of you don’t. A subscription right now could be put to very good use. For a small investment each month, you could be learning pretty much anything, including AutoCAD. For those of you who may be struggling right now, that could be more money that you simply don’t have. If you are someone who needs a hand after losing their job, or you need to re-train, email me on email@example.com and I can help you in a small way towards a LinkedIn Learning subscription. I will be totally honest here, I can provide a 90-day LinkedIn Learning voucher, but numbers are VERY limited, and it’s first come, first served, I’m afraid.
Take some of my online courses
Again, this is self-promotion, and at the same time, it isn’t. I want to help you learn but to do that you need to subscribe to take my courses (or use a voucher, as mentioned above). So, if you want to learn about AutoCAD (and trust me, I really DO NOT know everything, but I try my best!), you can find the new AutoCAD 2021 courses below: –
Learning AutoCAD 2021 – https://linkedin-learning.pxf.io/BLeD4
AutoCAD 2021 Essential Training – https://linkedin-learning.pxf.io/zdPye
AutoCAD: Interface – https://linkedin-learning.pxf.io/0aXkL
AutoCAD: Spaces & Workspaces – https://linkedin-learning.pxf.io/RVaPy
AutoCAD: Output – https://linkedin-learning.pxf.io/ddZKy
AutoCAD: Tips & Tricks – https://linkedin-learning.pxf.io/bobOk
(Full disclosure here too. The links above are affiliate links where I do earn a very small commission as I am part of the LinkedIn Learning Instructors affiliate program).
Invest in a software subscription
If you invest in new software and make that leap to part with your hard-earned money for it, you will always associate value with it. As I mentioned about your home-working furniture, see it as an investment to something for the future. Plus, if you want to learn AutoCAD, you will need the software to follow along with the videos. Autodesk offer all their software using a subscription model, so you can pay for it monthly. Not only does this reduce your capital outlay, but it also gives you a world-class CAD product for a small monthly outlay, especially if you start small with AutoCAD LT, rather than full-blown AutoCAD.
As an Autodesk Expert Elite, I can provide you with links to Autodesk software subscription, and the AutoCAD LT link is here. This link is for the Americas only, but if you do need a link for other countries, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I want you all to know that I am worried about the way the world is right now, but I also want you to know that I will do all I can to help you in any small way that I can. I cannot give out money or make massive donations to the coronavirus effort, but what I CAN do is provide my experience (such as hints to work from home) and my knowledge (by helping you learn AutoCAD). I am more than happy to provide guidance on how to learn, how to learn AutoCAD, and how to use AutoCAD, which is why I wanted to get this blog out there today.
Due to the current circumstances, as a company, we are considering running short FREE AutoCAD online classes. These will be LIVE, so you would need to sign up, and we are looking at the various online providers; Skype, Zoom, BlueJeans and so on, before committing to one, so please bear with us on this. In the meantime, please pop us an email at email@example.com to show your interest. We will need to consider time-zones, bandwidth and all the usual caveats though, so it will take a bit of time to organize. The classes will be based around my LinkedIn Learning AutoCAD Tips & Tricks topics.
Autodesk are also offering extensions to some of their flagship products, especially those that are cloud-based such as AutoCAD web and AutoCAD mobile. You can find more information on this here.
On a personal note. We are living in strange and chaotic times. Hang on in there, stay safe, and most of all, be kind to one another. #bekind
It’s Terrific Tuesday.
Be terrific to others, and yourselves too. 😉
PS – You can find my new AutoCAD 2021 Essential Training course in the LinkedIn Learning library here. Check it out and find out more about AutoCAD 2021.
PPS – You can still vote for my classes at AU London 2020. You can find the voting page here. Just search for ‘Shaun Bryant’ in the Search box. I hope to see you in London in December!