Working from home has its advantages and might seem preferable to being in an office, but it’s easy to fall prey to distractions and you need to make sure you’ve got a suitable work space and the right equipment.
We were talking recently with Matt Powell from Broadband Genie and this topic came up, so we asked him to share some of the favourite technology and apps that he uses to help keep him organised, and might help you too.
Notes and tasks
If you need something to help you keep track of information and share data with colleagues, the excellent Evernote is essential. It helps organise information, including video, pictures and audio files alongside text, and makes it easy to collaborate with others. It’s cross-platform too so you can access your notes on mobile devices as well as proper computers.
Another great note-taking app is Google Keep. This is much simpler than Evernote but the straightforward digital sticky-note design is perfect for jotting down quick ideas. As well as Google mobile devices your notes can also be accessed on desktop computers and Apple iOS hardware.
Project management can also be made simpler with Trello. This free web-based service allows you to easily manage and monitor tasks even across very complex projects, whether you’re working alone or as part of a team.
Time wasting and tracking
Procrastination is a home worker’s no.1 enemy. You sit down with the best intentions, then suddenly the day is gone and you’ve done little real work. To help combat this there are a few apps which can help.
StayFocusd is a Chrome browser extension which gives you an allotted amount of time to waste then blocks useless sites once you’ve used up your allowance. It’s highly customisable so you can choose to block entire domains, specific sites and even types of content like videos. Another popular choice is SelfControl for Mac OS X, an open source tool for blocking unproductive sites on a timer.
It’s also important to keep an eye on your progress throughout the day and track the time you spend on tasks. Toggl is a simple yet powerful cross-platform tool which makes it easy to log and organise your activity, whether for individuals or entire teams.
Technology can help you collaborate with colleagues or clients no matter where everyone is in the world.
Screenhero is a handy application which provides collaborative screen sharing, including multiple cursors and voice communication.
Another fantastic remote meeting tool is Sketchboard. This runs in a web browser and provides a sketch area where anyone can add images and text in real time. It’s particularly helpful for visualising creative ideas or sketching out complex tasks.
And if you want to hold a meeting remotely there’s always Skype. It’s free to use when calling Skype-to-Skype, works on a huge variety of devices including mobile, and offers both voice and video chatting
What are your favourite apps that you can’t manage without every day? Please share them with us in the comments below.
And if you haven’t had it yet, be sure to download the VA resource kit (link in the sidebar). We’re in the middle of updating it with latest links so do let me have any other tools that you think every VA should have.
Matt Powell is the editor for Broadband Genie, an independent switching site providing consumers and businesses with practical help, advice and price comparison for home broadband, mobile broadband, phones, TV services and mobile accessories.