Digital Toolbox: Getting an Education Without Leaving the Job Sitecomments (2) January 3rd, 2013 in Blogs
Guest post by Sergio Grado
Let's face it. As contractors and tradespeople, we spend most our time out in the field, with little or time for learning something new. If it isn't knowledge acquired at the job site, then why bother, right? Unfortunately, this is how many of us think.
We know that we need to work hard in our business to stay ahead, but the secret is that we also need to work hard on our business and let the business work even harder for us. But how can we do that if we are not taking the time to learn better estimating techniques, or how to increase sales by learning how to market our services better? Here, I will showcase some of the ways you can learn while in the field by using your smartphone, tablet, or laptop computer.
Finding the time to learn something new while in the field usually means that you have to do it either on your lunch break or during brief periods of downtime, such as while waiting for a subcontractor to arrive. This typically means you have anywhere from 10 minutes to 30 minutes at most. How can you possibly learn anything during that time? The answer is through websites, blogs, newsletters, and podcasts.
If you have a tablet and can access the Internet, then you're well equipped to take advantage of all kinds of learning in the field. You may have a smartphone as well, with a data plan that will allow you to tether your smartphone to your tablet to give you an Internet connection without having to rely on Wi-Fi. This is most helpful when you are sitting out in the middle of a vacant lot in a new development somewhere. I have been fortunate from time to time to find myself sitting at the edge of a lake on the lot of a custom home I was building - a great place to do a little homework.
If you have access to the Internet, your first opportunity is to access key websites:
www.greenbuildingadvisor.com – This site is my first stop when I have a few minutes. It features videos, product evaluations, and detailed drawings that I can learn from. It also features several blogs where construction topics are discussed.
www.finehomebuilding.com – This is my second stop, and I always look for the short videos called There's A Better Way. In quick, 30-second videos, I have learned many a quick tip that I instantly put to work in the field.
www.ebuild.com – This is a great site for product news. They always feature the latest products and often feature them in their "eBuild TV" video segment.
The next rich sources of information that you want to tap into are industry newsletters. There is definitely no shortage of content here. Most are free and can be easily viewed on a tablet or a smartphone. Here are a few of my picks for best content.