Hard truth: Working from home takes nifty organisational skills and discipline, which – who’d have thought? – aren’t always easy to muster when your boss isn’t around (or even if you are the boss!).
We’ve narrowed down the best apps, tech tools and tips and tricks to make your life easier and boost your productivity. Step. By. Step. #yourewelcome
1. Plan Your Week
While many management tools are confusing to use because of an overwhelming number of features, Trello – a free service that lets you visually set daily goals and manage work projects – is streamlined and easy to use.
(image: Instagram Trelloapp)
Use it to organise the week ahead. Think of it as a digital pinboard, divided into lists. On each list, you add cards where you detail your tasks. You can share everything on your board with colleagues or clients, allowing them to collaborate and track the overall progress without lengthy emails
2. Keep Track of Time
You can also use a digital time-keeper like RescueTime to help you stay on the ball.
It’s designed for individuals who require personal time management, and unless you’re in Human Resource monitoring a team, this does the trick without the fuss.
How it works: The subscription site (from at $9.05 a month for the year, or $25.05 per month) tracks how much time you spend on activities online, and at the end of the week, it sends you an email with a statement on your productivity based on pre-grouped, customisable categories. Two hours Net-A-Porter-ing? Guilty as charged
(video: Instagram RescueTime)
3. Talk to Your Tribe
Want to connect with your team, but feel like you’re herding cats to check email, Google Hangout, WhatsApp and whatever other option there is to simply “read your messages”?
Consider Slack, which functions as a chatroom, grouped into public and private messages, with a custom domain. You can invite other users to join by sending out an email invitation, which is especially convenient when inviting a guest member such as an external consultant or client to the company chat. The biggest edge Slack has over other communication tools? Its compatibility with more than 2,200 apps and services, including widely-used cloud storage solutions like Google Drive and Dropbox
4. Meet Up (Virtually)
At some point, you may require a meeting app like Zoom, which allows remote and co-located attendees to meet. Community is the core of a workplace and nothing beats physical interaction, even if it’s on a screen.
Its audio and video functions work exceptionally well, even on the free version (cough, Skype). For large organisations, it allows up to 100 participants in each session, more than double that of other apps.
(Find out how to safely secure your Zoom meetings.)
5. Burning the Midnight Oil?
It’s late and, chances are, you’re still checking e-mails or winding down on Netflix.
The blue light from your device is damaging to eye health and could disrupt sleep. So, install F.lux, a software that adjusts the colour of your device’s display to the time of day and reduces eye strain at night.
Sure, you could use built-in, warm-light filters on your laptop or phone, but with F.lux, you have the option of choosing from various effects and pre-sets to give you the colour accuracy you prefer.
6. Download a Work Playlist
Skip this if you’re the kind of person who needs to work in total silence, or who’s able to block out all distractions with the power of your mind.
For everyone else, sustaining concentration is often an issue, especially after a few hours of work. If you find yourself constantly getting distracted, try working with music – the right playlist can really help you stay in that flow state. Match different types of music with the type of work you’re doing: Upbeat tunes to jam to for mundane or menial tasks, and non-vocal, mid-tempo music for detailed work.
If you’re the last person on the planet to acquaint yourself with sites or apps like iTunes, Spotify or SoundCloud, we suggest you spend a little time checking them out – they can save you hours of non-productivity in the future
7. Set a Start and End Time
Time management is one of the biggest issues you face when working from home. Sure, you can start whenever you want. But, too much flexibility also means you could be hunched over your laptop at 4 a.m., cursing yourself for not managing your time better. When you aim to get things done by a certain time, you tend to work faster and more efficiently to meet that deadline.
Even for people who aren’t great at following schedules, putting one in place still helps to ensure you don’t get completely derailed. If you set a deadline to finish work by 5 p.m., it’s better to be late by an hour than not completing it at all.
8. Enhance Your Home Office
Yes, it may be tempting to do all your work from the comfort of your bed, but you’ll soon learn that it is terrible for your spine and neck (get help for painful posture problems, if that’s you).
More importantly, it can seriously put a dent in your productivity. So, make sure you’ve got a conducive working environment. At the very least, you should have a desk or table with a good chair at the correct height.
There are other things that you can place in your work area to make it more comfortable and boost productivity – a cushion for your butt, document folders if you’re drowning in paperwork, plants to make the space look less austere (try these easy-care options) and so on.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that even with the perfect environment, you’ll be able to concentrate. (Throw kids into the equation, and it’s a whole different situation!) But just sitting in a chair instead of trying to work sprawled in front of the TV will definitely improve things.
9. Finally, Some Extras!
A fitness tracker to remind you to move every hour because sitting all day can cause serious health concerns, and flatten your bottom – the horror!
The Apple Watch – if you already use an iPhone – comes in tops for its built-in cellular connectivity and compatibility with thousands of apps; in addition to more obvious features like step and calories tracking. Not to mention its sleek design, and range of finishes and straps to choose from.
Otherwise, the Fitbit Versa 2 also delivers similar metrics, works on both Android and iOs; has longer battery life, native sleep tracking (it doesn’t need an app unlike the Appl Watch) and has a broader selection of supported, specialised workouts like kickboxing and Pilates.
(image: Instagram NeckHammock)
For anyone who spends hours hunched over a laptop and suffers from tense neck muscles, the Neck Hammock is a cervical traction device that gently pulls the head away from the neck, helping to stretch the vertebrae and muscles along your spinal cord, providing instant relief from neck stiffness or back pain.
No better way to end the day!
(Find out how to prevent eye strains from looking at the computer all day.)
By Lydia Ng, March 2020/ Updated by Jashleen Kaur, August 2020
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