How To Create Custom Hatch Patterns?

Part 5 of 13 in our How To Use AutoCAD series

One of the great things about AutoCAD is that it can be used to design drawings meant for different types of industries. And because AutoCAD designs can be intended for any structure under the sun, the material being used or involved in the design’s construction can vary greatly.  

This poses an interesting situation when AutoCAD users need to fill in the hatches of their drawings. These hatches represent the real material to be used. So getting the hatch patterns just as accurate as the drawings themselves is important.

Now, although AutoCAD offers plenty of hatch patterns on its own, sometimes we may want to personalize our drawings and implement our own hatch patterns. You can do this by following these simple steps:

1.In your AutoCAD document, draw a desired pattern using a tool from the Draw panel.

2. In the Block panel, click on the “Create” command, located in the top right corner.

Selecting Create Block Option

3. Name your pattern and click “OK”. On the pop-up, choose “Select objects”.

4. Click on your drawing until it gets light blue, and hit Enter.

5. Now select “Pick point” and place the cursor on the bottom left corner of your pattern drawing.

Selecting Pick Point Option

6. Hit “OK”.

7. Go to the “Express Tools” tab > Draw panel > Super Hatch.

Selecting Super Hatch

8. Choose “Block” as your desired pattern type, select your block by name and hit “OK”.

Selecting Hatch Pattern

9. Fit your pattern by following instructions. When you’re satisfied hit Enter.

10. Click on the desired area that you want to hatch and once selected, hit Enter.

All done! For advanced users who are interested in more hatch pattern customization options, check out this tutorial from Ellen Finkelstein.

 

How To Easily Optimize Your Business’ Books

Optimizing Business Books

Every business has to face at least one tricky challenge in common: to keep its books organized. That might seem like an easy task if you are an accountant or a bookkeeper, but that’s not always the case.

The vast majority of small business owners end up having to organize the financial/documental part of the business by themselves to save some money or just to keep a close eye on them. Organization is a crucial part for every business’ success, and here are some valuable ways to start improving your operations today.

The first action you can take to integrate and organize your company’s books is to digitalize every single piece of document you might have. That’s right, even that small parking receipt from two months ago or that hotel bill that you paid during the last conference you attended–digitalize it! Documents that are stored in digital format (e.g., PDF, Docx, XLS) are much easier to handle and to access, which can be a huge time-saver. Or if you want to customize and convert the format of the documents you are storing you can use simple and extremely efficient tools such as Able2Extract  to get the job done for you.

Also on the same line of digitalizing documents, a crucial measure to increase your books data security is to upload it to the cloud. This allows companies to store all the information they need in the cloud, which means that the data will be saved in external servers that can be accessed from anywhere at any time. Plus, some cloud service providers such as Welcome Networks presents the users with military-grade security for Virtual Desktops so they can have peace of mind about any hacking attempts.

Another highly necessary and important point to optimize books is to utilize online accounting software instead of the old fashioned offline desktop systems. Since these web-based applications allow you to send invoices, pay bills, do bank reconciliations, and to obtain reports of the most variables types, these web apps operate in the cloud and are the latest trend in the market.

An excellent example is SlickPie cloud accounting, a free software that even offers a source file attachment feature for companies to upload financial documents that are related to their transactions directly to their accounts, which can also be used in combination with Able2Extract to generate double the optimization value.

These software programs will drastically improve your business overall productivity since it will basically show you a financial x-ray of all your transactions through cash flow statements, balance sheets, and all other pertinent records registered in the system.  And the best part is – it will all be just one click away to be accessed from any desktop or mobile device.

All these solutions need to be integrated and applied to increase the effectiveness in the company’s books. This will strengthen the business with top trend tactics that are being used by the main players in every industry, and it will grant your company with advantage points over your competitors’ procedures.

By putting these practices into action, your company will save time, money, and it will be much more secure to provide any financial documents whenever they are needed, regardless of environmental conditions.

If you were still waiting for the right time to come to embrace digital innovations to fully optimize your company’s books, now is the time!

4 Simple Ways Budding Project Managers Can Start Creating Gantt Charts

Organized Project Planning When remote teams are becoming more and more common, it isn’t surprising to see project managers struggling to stay on top of things. One project involving a number of tasks with just as many people working on it can spin out of control.  You’re not only working with people, but you’re also working against time and resources.

And this is where a Gantt chart steps in. If you aren’t using one as a budding project manager, you may want to. Gantt charts are an essential tool to project management. They keep a detailed track record of a project’s critical path at any given moment.

It keeps you up to speed on important factors like the progress or status of a task. Interdependent tasks and resources can be allocated, visualized, and coordinated. And with the internet and your everyday computer, Gantt charts can be updated as needed.

But technology needs and personal preferences are diverse. We know there are many other simpler, quick fix tools that can be used to manage projects to varying degrees. Looking to step things up? Need more complex features?

Whether you’re stepping into a project mid-stream or need to consolidate your project calendar with an existing one, there are ways you can integrate existing tracking sheet and schedule data into a Gantt chart.

1. Convert Google Calendar, Base Camp & Trello Into A Gantt Chart

Now Google Calendar, Base Camp or Trello are probably the most popular free tools online. They’re easy to set up, offer the basic project tracking essentials and can quickly get you started.

Google Calendar, as a project planning tool, needs no explanation.  Basecamp, known for its highly collaborative nature and tracking features, is a popular go to option for managing teams. And Trello is a web app that uses individual (and collaborative) task cards grouped into boards in lieu of a To-do list.

So if you need to suddenly create professional-looking tracking reports or share your calendar with others, great news is that you can create a Gantt chart from all 3 tools using Ganttify.

Gantt Chart Creation Webapp

Ganttify is a webtool that does what it sounds—it takes your data and “Ganttif-ies” it without having to do much but log into your accounts (note that with Trello, though, your task cards need to have a start and end date included).

2. Create Gantt Charts In Microsoft Excel

If you’re just starting out on managing your first project, chances are you’ll turn to familiar tools like Excel where you’ll construct your own tracking sheet with basic formatting and formulas. However, don’t be afraid to get a little more complex and use Excel to create a Gantt chart.

Officetimeline.com, for instance, offers up a detailed, step-by-step tutorial manual on how to create a Gantt chart Microsoft Excel users can set up. Note, that creating one from the beginning can be time consuming, but as your projects become more complex, you’ll be glad you invested the time.

For those who don’t want to create things from scratch, though, you can still get the job done by using a Gantt chart template.  You can find a variety of them online. Here are a few to start you off:

  • A simple 4 week project timeline Excel template from Office.com
  • A free version of Gantt Chart Template Pro from Excel expert, Jon Wittwer, at Vertex42.com
  • GanttExcel.com also has a template you can download that has both a paid and free version
  • Chandoo.org offers a variety of Gantt chart templates for project management

3. Import Excel Data Into Microsoft Project 

For a more specialized project management tool, Microsoft created MS Project. While part of the popular MS Office suite, the project management software program isn’t included with the desktop suite.

This program offers the high end features that are needed for more multi-level complex projects that need high level monitoring and workflow analysis, cost calculations, in-depth planning, enterprise-wide access and more.

However, if you started tracking your project with MS Excel and are switching over to MS Project, there’s good news. You can simply import Excel into Microsoft Project. When you create a new project, choose to create one from Excel. From there, the MS Project import wizard will guide you through the rest.

4. Create A Gantt Chart Online

Online project management is common nowadays. And with cloud storage and remote teams, being able to take and keep things online is essential.

It isn’t any wonder that you can create Gantt charts online free from the very beginning, making it easily accessible from wherever you or your team are. Though you get what you get with online versions, the essential features are there.

Ganttic.com is an online resource planning, scheduling and management tool. While paid accounts will provide you with more features, for project managers that are bootstrapping it, there’s a limited free account available. It allows you only 10 resources to track. but despite the limitation, Ganttic.com has features that are streamlined and simplified.

Ganttic Introduction from Ganttic on Vimeo

Second is Gantter.com which is a free cloud-based project management tool. This one sticks out because it works tightly with Google Apps and Google Drive, which, if you’re working with a Google based team, is perfect.

Its features leverage the power of Google’s cloud services, including real time editing, chat, and Google Drive access. You can even import and export files from Microsoft Project. Not a Google user, though? Don’t worry.  Gantter.com offers a smartapp.com edition that ties in other cloud drives you may be using.

How are you keeping track of your project and your team? If you know of any other Gantt Chart tips to expand on this list, let us know in the comments.

How To Hatch Or Fill Objects/Areas?

Part 4 of 13 in our How To Use AutoCAD series

When using AutoCAD to draft blueprints or designs, the CAD designer must keep in mind the type of material that will be used when the design is built.  For this, AutoCAD uses “hatches” that represent solid masses and materials to be used and incorporated within the design when it’s built.

When creating your CAD drawing, you can decide on the pattern to be used to represent the material intended to be used during construction with AutoCAD’s hatch command.   

The hatch command in AutoCAD is used to fill an area or selected objects with a hatch pattern or a fill. Here’s how to use the command in a few simple steps:

1.Go to the Draw panel on the Home tab. Find the hatch icon in the bottom right corner.

Using Autocad Hatch Command

2. You will see a “Hatch creation” tab. Go to its Properties panel and choose the Hatch type that you would like to insert. Choose between Solid, Gradient, Pattern or User Defined.

3. Further specify the pattern on the Pattern panel.

Pattern Hatch Type

4. Choose your desired method: “Pick Points” or “Select Boundary Objects”. The “Pick Points” will determine a boundary around the specified point. The “Select Boundary Objects” will allow you to manually select the boundaries of the area that you would like to hatch.

5. After filling the area, hit “Enter” to apply the hatch.

As you can see, when using AutoCAD for any design, being as detailed as possible is not only essential, but easy when it comes to specifying small details such as construction material.

4 Ways To Handle Common Workplace Stress Productively

In one single work day, you can go through a roller coaster of emotions. From feeling energetic to angry, your mood can swing from one extreme to the other. What matters most is how well you deal with your emotions. They can impact your performance, your work, your career, and how others perceive you.

When things get tough, it’s hard to stay focused on the bigger picture. You can push yourself to get things done, but when in a bad mood, it can become counter-productive. Sometimes even the most common workplace problems can’t be conquered by sheer will alone.

But instead of sitting around, stewing in negativity, you can get proactive about turning your day around. We’ve got 4 constructive tips on how to handle yourself in some of the most common stress-related situations at work.

Losing Sight Of Your Goals

Truth be told, being motivated 24/7 is mentally exhausting especially when major obstacles pop up. Big challenges can get to you. Losing your project’s funding, begin passed over for a promotion, sacrificing your family for work—all are enough to make you question your goals.

But you’re not alone. Even some of the most successful people need to motivate themselves. So don’t get caught up into thinking your current tedious task is the end goal. It’s only one step in the journey towards it.

A positive attitude and motivation are key, but they’re also the hardest to maintain. Give yourself a boost with a simple reminder of what your career goals are.

Lifetick Tracking Goals Online

Image Soure: Lifetick.com

Lifetick.com is a great tool for just this purpose. As a goal keeping service, it allows you to set, update and track your goals. And because goals are far more than just a to-do list, Lifetick.com comes with the ability to keep a journal, chart your progress, establish your core values, and track areas of your life to develop success-oriented habits. It has a free plan and app available.

So if you feel like you’re getting more than you bargained for, then it’s time to sit down and reassess if your goals are still right for you or if you need new ones altogether.

Feeling Overwhelmed

We all have days when things just seem to work against us. When you have more than 20 things on your plate, feeling swamped will have you jumping from one task to another.

Motivational Quote Nelson Mandela

You’ll feel like you aren’t prioritizing the task you should be. Or worse, you’ll be busy planning things out and figuring out where to start instead of just getting your tasks done.

A good antidote to that is to just jump in, put on your blinders and focus. Try using the Pomodoro technique that makes you work uninterrupted for 25 minutes solid with 5 minute breaks in between. Don’t think, just work.

Or if you’re having troubles deciding on what to do first, calm your nerves with a robust to-do list tool like RememberTheMilk that lets you manage your task lists from anywhere.

You can even combine both and improve your time management skills. But whatever you decide, getting yourself active and focused on one thing at a time is key.

Stepping Into A New Role

Being assigned a new project or stepping into a new role can be intimidating. You react with fear, panic and even doubt. How can you get the job done without any experience?

Be easy on yourself. It’s okay to say “I don’t know how to do this”. In fact, that’s what you want to do. The statement will force you to take stock of where you are and what new skills you’ll need.

If you need some guidance on learning skills and take the edge off, you’ll want to check out Mindtools.com. This site has a ton of articles on career-related topics. Moreover, it takes its database of articles to the next level, allowing you to design your own structured skills guide by organizing them into a Learning Plan. So you have the advice you need right at your fingertips when you feel lost.

Creating Mindtools Learning Plan

You can log in using your LinkedIn or Facebook account to start crafting your plan, however, do note that some resources can only be accessed by paid members.

Don’t forget that the first time won’t be perfect. If you start out knowing and accepting that you will make mistakes, your first footsteps will be less scary and less pressure-packed. Combine that with an willingness to learn and you’re off to a good start.

Dealing With Problem Co-Workers

When you’re working with a diverse team of members, there’s a good chance you won’t get along with every single one your co-workers or their habits. Question is, how do you deal with them?

The knee-jerk reaction is to start gossiping, bullying or even sabotaging him or her in spite. But remember that when you do, your professional reputation is on the line.

Confrontation is fine as long as it’s in good professional taste. Using “I” language, clearing the air, consulting your employer on solutions, or being open to company mediators are good alternatives in an office environment, both physically and digitally.

But if you feel your issues can’t be helped or aren’t worth lashing out about, let off some steam and unwind with Passiveaggressivenotes.com.

Posting Passive Aggressive Note

Image Source: PassiveAgressiveNotes.com

This site is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a site where you can find hilarious and relatable passive aggressive notes that people have submitted or wrote themselves. Having a good place to deflate will give you some perspective on your own problem co-worker, allowing you to let go and focus on your job. Having a good laugh is always better than permanently tarnishing your reputation!

 

As you can imagine, dealing with the emotional pitfalls of the workplace is an essential skill to master. Success, happiness and a good work life balance are things you have to work for. So don’t give in too easily. A productive tip here and there can help you achieve them one day at a time.