A little more than a year has passed since most of us were forced into the new reality that is working from home. Here are some tools and tips to make the transition smoother.
Tools to make you more efficient
Looking for a clean, minimal & distraction-free environment to spark your creativity? We got you.
Calmly Writer is an editor that gives you the space to focus on your writing unobtrusively. I use the online version and it autosaves! You can add pics, edit your copy, and download in .txt, .htm, & .docx format, or simply save it to Google Drive.
Working from home can be amazing, but not all are fortunate enough to have a distraction-free environment. The Pomodoro technique is a great way to beat procrastination and improve your focus. It is also a great way to gamify your work by setting small goals that can be achieved in a pomodoro and rewarding yourself with a break.
A pomodoro lasts 25 minutes and then you take a 5-minute break. After 3-4 pomodoros you take a longer break (15-30 mins). That way, you focus on the ask you set knowing the break will be your reward.
Marinara: Pomodoro® Assistant is a free-to-install Chrome extension.
Since I started working remotely, most of my neighbors decided it’s time to renovate, party, and procreate. Good for them, but try having a meeting while your neighbor is drilling the wall, listening to dubstep, their kids are jumping on your ceiling, AND your dog decides this is the time to sing to its people. Not a fun call.
Krisp is an AI-powered app that removes background noise and echo from your calls, leaving only human voice, for free! Downloading it was an easy decision that has made my calls while working from home more professional.
If you are a small team using one Gmail account for your support email, you probably need to use Hiver.
In their own words, Hiver helps you easily access, assign and track emails coming to your shared customer service account.
The whole team can access the emails, you can delegate and keep everyone accountable, and your customers will be happier with your timely and personal support.
As an employee, it is not always easy to tell your boss you’re not happy and give feedback. As a manager, you should always strive to create an environment where your team can come to you with anything.
ThriveIndex is a great tool to get a weekly pulse on how your team is feeling. Anonymous, engaging and frequent, with actionable bottom-up feedback.
Because a happy employee is a productive employee who will not leave at the first chance.
Remote work, for many people, means a chance to travel. Yes, lockdowns and safety measures have ruled our lives for the last year, but we’re being optimistic for the future. International travel means different time zones. How do you figure it out? Easy. Chrome extension FIO. Open a new tab and lo and behold, time in all your time zones.
The same applies to international teams with team members/customers in different time zones.
Remote Design Sprints
If you are doing remote sprints while working from home, don’t forget to check out our lifesaver hacks.
Tips & Tricks to help tackle working from home
Working from home has left many of us tired, with muscle pains and a severe lack of concentration. I attributed it to working long hours, sitting at a desk all day, and using too many electronic devices. My doctor had a different opinion. While all these contribute to the way I have been feeling, Vitamin D deficiency was the leading cause.
Now I make it a point to have my morning coffee on my balcony in the sun (10 minutes is all you need!) and have lots of natural light in my working space. I moved my desk in front of the window, and my mood increased. Easy as pie.
My desk used to consist of papers, pens, snacks, cables, more snacks, and more cables. It drove me mad to try to concentrate on my work and look around and feel overwhelmed.
So I went wireless, got a cupboard for the snacks, papers, pens, cleaned my desk of all knick-knacks, and added a plant or two.
Clean desk, clean mind. Apply that to your whole working space and you will see your concentration and productivity going up.
Do you have a pet at home? Great. Take a break and play with them for 5 mins. Free stress relief. Don’t forget to show them off to your team at meetings. Guaranteed to make someone’s day.
It is time to admit that we are all working from home wearing the most comfortable clothing we own. And while that is great, it can contribute to a bit of laziness. Hold on, I’m not about to suggest you were a suit here! Just change out of your PJs. And wear shoes. Or a hat. Hear me out.
Apparently, recent studies have shown that wearing shoes or a hat at home, can make you feel work-ready. It tricks your mind into thinking you should not be relaxing at this time even though you are working from home. Give it a try!
If you’re one of those few lucky people whose work sends food even at home, this one is not for you, and we envy you.
If you’re like the rest of us, you end up scouring your fridge long after lunchtime and end up eating snacks or ordering in instead of having a proper home-cooked meal.
Try allocating a couple of hours of your Sunday for food prep. Saves you time in the week, keeps you eating healthier and you don’t have to worry about what to eat for lunch every day while working from home.
Parkinson’s & Laborit’s laws
Parkinson’s law is the adage that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”.
Simply speaking, if you give yourself a week to do a task, it will take you the whole week. If you allow yourself a day it will take a day. We, humans (and by humans I mean me), tend to procrastinate until the last possible allowed minute for the task. Try to give yourself shorter, but always reasonable, timelines and see the magic happen.
The basis of Laborit’s law (or The Principle of Least Effort) is that, as humans (again, yours truly), we are naturally inclined to put off difficult or complicated tasks. If we’re faced with a difficult situation, we instinctively seek a less stressful and more pleasurable one instead. We naturally choose the path of least resistance or effort. This is part of the reason we procrastinate on bigger, more difficult tasks. To overcome the inclination, start by taking on your most difficult task first in the day. Gamify the task using the Pomodoro Technique mentioned above and reward yourself upon completion. Use Parkinson’s law and schedule it ahead of time giving yourself a reasonable timeframe to complete it.