In this New Year I find myself doing what I normally do: reflecting on aspects of my life where I can strive for improvements. This may mean breaking bad habits, instituting new ones, or simply finding ways to be more productive.
I'm a big believer in leveraging tools to help me accomplish these changes. And in today's world, we have loads of tools for almost anything and everything we could possibly need. As they say, in most cases there's probably an “app for that.” These tools are available via the interwebs on your desktop computer, or are just a click and a download away on your iPhone or Android device.
So, for today's post, I've researched and compiled the following list of helpful applications for today's busy Work at Home Woman.
Productivity and Project Management Tools:
Every bit of research I did on popular apps included mention of Evernote. I don't personally use it, yet, but with over 50 million users and 100,000 new people using the tool everyday, they must be doing something right. With desktop products, web-based tools, and apps for both iPhone and Android devices, Evernote touts themselves as “easy and powerful way to remember everything, from lifelong memories and vital information to daily reminders and to-do lists.” This is one app I am excited about getting started on, as I am a note-taking junkie who has an unhealthy fear of losing or forgetting something.
There are lots of different project management tools, but, I spend the most time in Basecamp. Assign tasks, upload files, send comments on the projects progress, track your time and more. After the 60-day trial, the investment for this web-based tool (also available as an iPhone app) begins at $20/month, but, if you have a remote team, it will be well worth it.
Time Management Tools:
In my business, we charge our clients for the time we invest to execute projects. So, time really is money. And, even if you don't charge for your products or services on an hourly basis like I do, there's something to be said for having an understanding of how you use your time. Are there tasks that are taking too much time? Are there things that you could easily outsource or delegate to others that would free you up to focus on more of the revenue generating tasks? That’s why I appreciate the following time management tools:
Toggl is an easy, flexible time tracking tool. The interface is super easy, and it is available in multiple environments. There’s a desktop tool, a web-based too and mobile apps (that even work offline and sync automatically once you can connect to the internet). The reports are easy to pull, and, it even features a timeline feature on the desktop version that can capture what you are doing on your machine in 15 minute blocks (with summary reports on your activity that are private and secure).
I say all the time that if I wanted to, I could spend all day just reading and responding to email. In fact, I have read countless articles from productivity experts that have talked about the time drain and productivity zap that comes from activities like email, SMS chats, etc. This app run securely in the background from both your desktop and mobile devices and reports back how you spend your day online. What I think is cool about the tool is that you can tell the system that you need a specific amount of “focus time” and it will help you block distracting websites and remind you to get focused. You can also set goals (like you want to spend less than 2 hours a day in email), and it will help you track and move toward that goal, even awarding you with a personal productivity score that you can benchmark against and improve upon.
Tools for Fun, Fitness and Work-Life Balance:
One of the pitfalls we face as remote workers is we can lose track of time, especially when we are in the “zone.” I've started a task in the morning and before I know it the clock reads 3pm and I haven't moved once from my desk or taken my eyes off of my computer screen. Mac ($2.99), iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch ($.99) users can find more balance with an app that’s been around awhile called “Coffee Break.” Simply set the time when you want to take a break, and this app will countdown and notify you when it is time to stop and step away from your desk.
I've written several times of the importance of staying active while working from your home office. Well, now you can have the power of a personal training via the GAIN Fitness app. Available via iPhone and the web, I love how this app literally walks you through form and technique for the exercise “packs” you select. So, after you take your coffee break (above), spend a few minutes doing some instructor led yoga moves. That ought to get the juices flowing!!
Research has proven that sometimes people need to step away from an especially taxing problem in order to find a creative solution. I always call it sharpening the saw (check out a past article I wrote on the subject here). Anyway, this web-based and iOS app (coming to Android in 2014) and its 100,000 trivia questions covering more than 250 different topics can provide your brain with a fun mini-vacation. You may want to set an alarm to prevent spending too much time on the game, though. It is rather addictive!
When I have to crank out some serious work, I like to play some tunes. Particularly 80s and 90s music. Don’t judge me. Anyway, I am no stranger to apps like Pandora or Spotify, but, in my research I was impressed with Slacker Radio because they seemed to be able to offer a LOT more music than both the other services (with over 10 million songs to offer), have more expert tuned channels (200+ and counting), and more customization options. There are various free and premium levels of the service, and it is available via the web, smartphones, in your car, and on your gaming console.
The world of apps is a fascinating, with new life enhancing, time saving, informative and entertaining tools entering the scene every day. This only barely scratches the surface. What tools do you rely upon as a Work at Home Woman?
Christy Schutz, is a communications professional and freelance writer focused on topics like employer/personal branding, career management, personal development, women in the workplace, and female entrepreneurs. She enjoys putting 16+ years of experience in the advertising, recruitment marketing, employee/internal communications and special events industries to good use by helping others to discover, develop and market their own distinct calling or mission. This Tampa Bay, FL-based Mom also keeps herself busy by raising 4 kids, caring for her husband & doting on her dogs Petey and Daisy!