13 free tools to help you work from home

14/04/2020
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Working remotely is great. Every day is casual Friday, the commute is non-existent and don’t get us started on the convenience factor. But if you’re new to the experience, it can be a little difficult adapting.

To help you be the best you can be without heading into the office, we’ve put together this list of handy tools to help you stay focused, avoid distractions, collaborate with your team and maintain your physical and mental health.

 

BLOCK DISTRACTIONS

Ding! Notification. Bing! Alert. Ding again! Working online can be distracting at the best of times, and now you’re working from home, those bings, dings and occasional gongs are even more inescapable than usual.

To help you keep your eye on your work and not on your newsfeed, there’s a host of apps that let you block a set of websites for a specific period of time. That means no cheeky checks of your Twitter, no quiet glances at your Facebook, no ‘quick scroll’ of your Instagram feed. Because, let’s face it: everyone’s discipline needs a helping hand from time to time.

 

IMPROVE FOCUS

Contrary to popular belief, not everyone needs a dead silent environment to work in. In fact, a lot of people work better when there’s consistent background noise. Don’t believe us? Just check the research.

If you’re one of those people who need background noise, the silence of working from home can be deafening. Fill it with cafe chatter from Coffitivity, the sound of a storm outside with RainyMood, or find an appropriate ambient track on YouTube and use the Loop function to keep it going all the workday long.

 

TAKE BREAKS

Whenever you work from home for a long period of time, it can feel like all the days start stringing together. In that sort of environment, it’s easy to lose track of time and forget to take the breaks you need to remain at your best.

Try using the Pomodoro technique: a method invented by Francesco Cirillo that breaks down your day into 25 minute blocks. Here’s how it works:

  1. Set a timer for 25 minutes.
  2. When that timer goes off, check a mark and take a 5 minute break. Best practice is to step away from your screen and stretch.
  3. Once the break is over, set the timer again for 25 minutes and repeat.
  4. Once you’ve got four checkmarks, take a longer break (15 to 30 minutes).
  5. After the long break is over, erase the four checkmarks and start from the beginning.

For the technologically inclined, use the TomatoTimer web app. No installation necessary. Never miss a break again!

 

REDUCE EYE STRAIN

Without the break of the commute, people who spend all their usual work day at the computer can end up with some serious eye strain. That can lead to headaches, itchy eyes or even blurred vision. It’s no fun.

Now that you’re working remotely, it’s more important than ever to take care of your health. You can use f.lux on both Mac and Windows to automatically adjust your screen brightness to reduce the strain on your eyes throughout the day.

 

COLLABORATE WITH OTHERS

Just because you’re out of the office doesn’t mean you need to be out of the loop. One of the toughest things to do when working remotely is ensuring you’re still able to draw on the expertise of others.

There are heaps of collaboration tools out there, ranging from chat apps to online word processors to full collaborative whiteboards. However, the key part is being able to communicate with others---and we don’t just mean email!

We recommend investing in one of the below free video and chatting apps and getting your coworkers online as well. Bonus: it helps avoid feeling disconnected and lonely during your workday too.

 

PRIORITISE TASKS

Task prioritisation has always been important, but without easy access to your colleagues to collaborate and assess, it can be tough to decide and keep track of what needs to be done right now, and what can be saved until you’re back in the office.

That’s where free collaborative tools like Trello and Monday.com can step in. These online tools allow you and your team to quickly see what one another is up to and reprioritise tasks on the fly. Very handy if you can’t just turn around in your seat and check in. You can use it to keep track of your own tasks and, if you’re responsible for a team, keeping track of your staff’s achievements too.

 

We hope you find these tools useful and that they help you be your best while working remotely. If you’re looking for ways to keep the kids distracted while you bring home the bacon, try one of these free activities for bored kids stuck indoors.

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