Struggling with productivity in your work-at-home environment? Use these 11 digital and non-digital tools to solve your issues.
What You Will Learn
A Changing World
The future of work is upon us. And it is certainly not the traditional corporate setting where people report to the office, put in their eight hours (often, many more), and then go home.
The freelance, contract, temporary work economy is growing fast, and 40% of today’s workers are engaged in it. Further experts predict that, by 2020, this percentage will be at 50%. And this does not include those full-time company employees who also work from home.
Clearly, with so many working from home these days, there is the issue of maintaining productivity in an environment that can be full of distractions (internal and external).
Are you ready to gather the “tools” you need to stay productive? What follows is a list of them (digital and non-digital) to keep you functioning at the highest level possible.
This list is two-part. First, are the essential digital tools. Second, are the physical and mental tools you also need.
Digital Productivity Tools
This is by no means a complete list. Every work-at-home professional should consider these but also do a bit of research on productivity tools on their own. There may be others that meet individual needs.
This is probably the most popular time management app. And it is available for iOS and Android phones, as well as for Windows and Mac.
You can take notes, create checklists, even recording them by voice, and have everything in one place for easy access. And anything you place into a mobile device, a laptop, or a PC can be accessed by any other device you have.
The features of Evernote are amazing. While it takes a small learning curve to get used to it and use it smartly, you will be glad you took the time to master all of its functions.
And if you are collaborating with others on a project? Evernote is the go-to app.
This app is free for up to two devices, but you will pay beyond that. Check out all of its features at its website, and go forth with this one. It will be a huge organizational time-saver.
Remember the days of to-do lists? We would write them on the back of envelopes, pieces of legal tablet paper, and then gleefully cross them off as they were completed.
But sometimes, of course, we lost those lists and then were stressed trying to remember everything.
Todoist is, first of all, a task manager that functions as a to-do list but does much more too.
You can manage all of your tasks, on or offline, set deadlines, and receive reminders of those deadlines as they are approaching.
This great little app works with iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows. And its collaborative features, if you need to work with others from remote locations, is great.
If you want to de-clutter your workspace and get all of your tasks organized in a single place, this app is for you.
This app can function in the place of an administrative assistant. Think of all the things you rely on a personal assistant for – calendaring your meetings, appointments, tasks, etc. and reminding you of all of these things through alerts.
The only thing it will not do is bring you coffee.
Additional functions are also pretty useful – to-do lists, note-taking, and more.
This tool is basically an assistant for de-cluttering and organizing your home office. You will learn how to keep your office physically manageable, with a number of tips and strategies for office management and organization.
Basic chores become easier and taking the necessary time on a regular schedule is all taken care of by this app.
This is basically a time-management app. But it does so much more.
Do you really know how much time you are spending on each of your projects? This can be pretty critical as a freelancer, whether you are charging by the project or by the hour.
This app will track all time spent on any single project. This is a timesheet on steroids which requires none of the old paperwork or Excel spreadsheets you used to need to manually track your time.
Not only will the app help you compute the time spent, but it will also let you get some perspective on the percentage of time you are spending on each of your tasks. You’ll get perspective that may change your priorities, to be both more efficient and to see which time spent is resulting in high and/or low revenue.
So, here is a piece of free software for all devices. With it, you can back up all of your files, ensuring that they are never lost. But there is more. You can synchronize them across all devices for easy use wherever you are, as well as for sharing with anyone else.
Most freelancers do not have access to a corporate cloud structure, so this app may be really beneficial.
How many of us doodle or draw as ideas are popping up? Normally we use paper, and then that paper can be misplaced or tossed, losing those ideas. Now you have the ability to do that doodling and commit it to a digital saving function. You can draw, write, etc. right on your device. And, as an added benefit, you can even organize them.
If you think that apps will provide all of your solutions, you are wrong. There are things that no digital function will provide – things you must do.
8. Inviolate Space
Working from home means that you must have a space that is not violated by other family members. No one invades that space without your permission or at least during the hours that you have designated for work.
9. Refusing distractions
It’s easy to become distracted by other “demands.” You hear activity in the house; friends call; emails and Facebook beckon. It’s easy to say, “I’ll just take a break for a bit.” This doesn’t work – ever.
You need to have a schedule of work, just as if you were in your own office outside of your home. This requires self-control, and no digital app will provide that.
10. Be Reasonable
Working day and night is not healthy and will not result in productivity. This is how burnout occurs. You do need to take breaks, and you do need to set a workday schedule that is reasonable.
Try to commit to a schedule that will work for the time demands you face. If you stick with it on a daily basis, you will find that you have time for family and friends too.
11. Get Help Where You Need it
You can waste a lot of time trying to complete tasks that are not your forte. If you are not a skilled writer, for example, and you must compose a complex proposal, then bite the bullet and hire out that work. You are a freelancer who can use other freelancers too. Check out the best editing services and get those pieces polished up. Whether you work in an international kindergarten in Bangkok or Starbucks in Seattle, you have many choices.
There you have it – digital and non-digital tools the will help you become more productive. The life of a freelancer can be amazing. But it must be tempered with solid organization and self-control. These 10 tools should help.