I got the sweetest email from a friend the other day asking me for tips on how to be more productive as a new entrepreneur/remote worker. “How do I get my work done and still have a life?” she asked. “How do I stay productive?”
I could hear the despondency of thousands of remote workers in those two simple questions.
While my best advice to her (and to anyone else in her situation) is to try out a whole bunch of different things and see what works best, there are a lot of apps coming out recently that can help you with your time management, productivity, communication, or whatever other remote working problem you’re facing.
Here’s a roundup of a few of my favorites.
The secret behind Trello’s awesomeness lies in its ability to be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. If you just need a place to list out all of your tasks for the day, you can do that. If you want to color code it (as I do) or add other people onto the board, you can do that too. If you want to map out an entire project across multiple, connected boards, no problem!
Trust me. This tool will change your life.
The internet is full of things that can distract you away from your work and if your work is on the internet, it’s all to easy to heed that siren’s call. If you really need to cut out every single site that could pull you away from work, download the SelfControl app. You choose which sites you don’t want to see and then set the timer. After that, you can’t access those sites until the time is up, even if you try to delete the app.
For those of you who don’t need to go to that extreme, my current favorite is the Kill News Feed Chrome extension, which allows you to continue accessing Facebook but makes it so you can’t see News Feed. Since installing it, I’ve seen my own productivity go through the roof.
The other great time management app is RescueTime, which simply runs in the background on your computer and tracks how much time you spend on each website and application. You can customize the app so that it knows what sites are for your work, or just let it decide by itself. Either way, you end up getting a clear view on exactly where and how your time is spent.
You can also check out Clay Johnson’s Information Diet if you’re looking for ways to totally change your mentality toward time management.
Social Media Management
If you work from home, chances are you’re doing some kind of social media work. Whether you’re scheduling tweets, Facebook posts, or Google+, my personal favorite is Buffer. Again, it’s super simple, great interface, and provides you with basic analytics to help you figure out what’s working and what isn’t.
For those of you who need a little more umph, Hootsuite is a step above Buffer in terms of capabilities. Check them both out and determine which suits your needs and style best.
One of the biggest things that has tripped me up in the more than two years that I’ve been working remotely is time zones: I never seem to get them right and therefore have missed important interviews and deadlines time and time again.
Because of that, I was unreasonably excited when I discovered the Figure It Out (FIO) Chrome extension. Add the pretty-colored app to your Chrome and then add any places around the world whose times you want to follow. Simply open a new tab and there they are! Seriously, this one is a lifesaver.
So there you have it: my favorite tools for making working remotely easier and more efficient. What are your favorites? Did I miss something essential? Let me know in an email or in the comments below.