This year, we are again finding ourselves working from home more often. Luckily, there are several apps and other tools to help the home office run smoothly and without any hiccups. Here are our top free, or low cost, tips to ensure a smooth, productive time working from home.
FOR PROJECT MANAGEMENT
Trello - Trello helps teams move work forward, and you can quickly set up and customise workflows for just about anything. Collaborate, manage projects, and reach new productivity peaks. Start with a Trello board, lists, and cards; customise and expand with more features as your teamwork grows and grow from there with task assignments, timelines, productivity metrics, calendars, and more. Open any card to uncover an ecosystem of checklists, due dates, attachments, conversations, and more —it is all in one place.
Available for free, and paid options on trello.com
TO TRACK YOUR TIME
Toggl - Toggl have a few different products; Toggl Track is what most people use however, and it is a fantastic time tracking software for both individuals and businesses. It is all about saving you time and money, and to really understand where your time goes, Track does the hard work for you. Data from all your projects and users are aggregated into a single dashboard. Track your time via web, desktop or mobile apps, or inside your favourite apps (they have 100+ integrations), and they also have tracking reminders. Toggl Track even takes your hours logged, and turns them into clean reports for invoicing.
Free for up to 5 users, from 9USD/month for bigger teams. See more on toggl.com
They also have some free resources for all of you working from home. Read the blog here.
TO INCREASE YOUR PRODUCTIVITY
Rescue Time - presents you with a readout tracking your online activity at the end of each day. With greater awareness of how your time is being spent, you can set goals, like spending only an hour checking emails for example, and create alarms to go off when you've spent too much time on a particular site or activity - this is the online equivalent of staging an intervention for your social media use, but without having to involve the family.
Available for free, or 9USD a month for the pro version on rescuetime.com
Freedom - Need to really focus on writing that speech? Or a blog post? Have to finish the budget? Whenever you need uninterrupted time this app will be a lifesaver, whether you are working from home or not. Freedom will completely block the internet from your computer for a set period of time so that checking social sites or emails simply isn't an option. If different sites on the internet is a big time drain for you, this could be a game changer - eliminating the temptation and thus giving you plenty of more time in the day for work related tasks.
Available for 10USD for Mac, Windows and Android from macfreedom.com
Time Out - this Mac app embodies one of the top tips I always give my clients. Because they are almost always time poor, and they always have too much to do, but easily get distracted (as we all do). Time Out reminds you to take a 10-minute break every 50 minutes, and a 15-second "micro break" - a brief pause to take a deep breath, look away from your screen, and recenter yourself - every 15 minutes. Scheduling your time this way enables you to really focus on a task for 50 minutes, and then move on to the next - together with the Freedom app, your productivity will go through the roof.
Available for free for Mac from the App Store.
Controlled Multi-Tab Browsing - Having 30 tabs open in your Chrome browser at the same time can be very stressful and also distracting. Limit your tabs and keep your focus using this plug-in. Set a maximum number of tabs (5 for example), and the plug-in will prevent you from opening any more than that set number until you are done with your task. If you are an incorrigible multi-tasker, this tool can help you improve your productivity and focus on what you need to complate.
Free to download from the Chrome Web Store.
FOR PROOFREADING AND GENERAL TYPING
Grammarly - Get grammar and word corrections from Grammarly while you write on Gmail, Twitter, LinkedIn, and all your other favourite sites. From grammar and spelling to style and tone, Grammarly helps you eliminate errors and find the perfect words to express yourself, whether that is fun and entertaining, or business like.
It is a free Chrome extension, get it on grammarly.com
Canva - Designing beautiful graphics doesn't have to be hard or stressful anymore. Use Canva’s drag-and-drop feature and professional layouts to design consistently stunning graphics. Design presentations, social media graphics, and more with thousands of beautiful layouts. Design with millions of stock photographs, vectors and illustrations. You can even upload your own. Edit your photos using preset filters or get advanced with photo editing tools. Use icons, shapes and elements with ease. Choose from thousands of elements for your designs, or upload your own. Access a great selection of fonts perfect for every design. All ready to go and accessible within Canva.
Canva is free for what most people need it for, sign up on canva.com
Read more about it and other tips to make working from home work for you in this blog post.