Working from home can be both freeing and confining. While it’s great to set your own schedule and work at your own pace, there are different, and sometimes more distractions at home than at the office. Some people may feel a sense of isolation if they spend 8 hours working from home with no one else to talk to and other people may struggle to cross just one item off their to-do list if they work in the same house as a roommate, spouse, and/or kids.
Whether you made the conscious choice to work from home or it’s just the nature of your job, there are plenty of apps and other forms of technology that can help make your day a little easier and a lot more productive. Read below to learn some tips and tricks to ensure you’re productive and satisfied with your work at the end of every day.
It can be really tempting to sleep in every morning when there’s no need to look presentable and commute to an office. Setting an alarm to wake up early may be right for some people, but if you do some of your best work at night, sleeping in may not be a bad thing. It’s all about finding what works best for you. Figure out when you are most productive then carve out a chunk of time during those hours every day to complete the bulk of your work. It’s important to set a schedule, even if it is flexible so you don’t get distracted with laundry, cooking, or other household tasks when you’re supposed to work.
Despite the distractions working from home can pose, it’s important to take scheduled breaks throughout the day; powering through several hours of work without a break can be draining. Take breaks to eat, stretch, and move around, then get back to work feeling a little more refreshed. You can enter your daily schedule into your phone or computer’s digital calendar so you can access it throughout the day. Toggl is a helpful app that allows you to track how much time you spend on various tasks. You can track from your browser, smartphone, or computer to see exactly how much time you spend working on a small task, a big project, or time-wasters (like browsing Instagram). It also allows you to create timesheets you can send to your employer if necessary.
While it’s smart to have a dedicated computer and office to work from, it’s not always realistic. But for many people, working remotely offers the chance to change the scenery. Some people prefer to work a local coffee shop or library. Remote work may also allow more travel opportunities. To make yourself more mobile, consider a cloud-based system to store all of your files. Dropbox and Quip help organize and store everything you need so you can access it anywhere you work. Plus, both programs allow users to share documents with others so they can collaborate with colleagues and turn in projects without ever having to be in the same room with them. If you need a change of pace, or can’t quite handle day after day of isolation, a cloud sharing system will allow to maintain momentum on important tasks no matter where you work from.
Working from home doesn’t necessarily mean working alone; in fact there are few jobs that allow you to work completely independently. But if you constantly run into the office for meetings or to collaborate with colleagues on a project, you’re not technically working from home—and you’re probably wasting a lot of valuable time commuting. That’s why programs like Chatter, Skype, Google Hangouts, and Slack are incredibly useful for remote workers.
Chatter allows employees to connect with files, data, and experts—anywhere, anytime. Skype facilitates virtual meetings on desktop and mobile. While phone calls can be better than email, sometimes you need to see a person’s facial expressions when you pitch an idea. Have a quick question for a colleague? Use Google Hangouts. It allows users to send e-messages, video, and voice calls. Slack does a little bit of everything; direct messaging, file sharing, pre-built integrations, private channels, and more. If you want a high tech way to multitask, Slack is the program for you.
A mobile CRM will also help you stay connected to customers and updated in real-time whether you’re in the office, at your home office, or on the go.
If you’re in the middle of a project and can’t stop typing Facebook into your browser, there are plugins to help. LeechBlock for Firefox, WasteNoTime for Safari, and StayFocusd for Chrome block distracting websites so you aren’t as tempted to stray during work hours. In addition, you have the option to program times into them. For example, you can allow yourself 5 minutes on a blocked site after completing 45 minutes of work. It’s up to you to set the schedule and stick to it, but these tools help keep you in line.
There are plenty of other digital tools to help you be your most productive work-from-home self. Evernote, Teuxdeux, Remember the Milk, Goals on Track, and Do it Tomorrow are a few others you may want to check out. To learn more, give this article a read.
What do you use in order to be successful when working from home? Let us know in the comment section below.