I consider myself one of the lucky ones. When I officially launched my writing career, my first job was with an online magazine based in Brooklyn, New York. Being the Midwest girl that I am (and always will be at my roots), I started working remotely. And ever since that first job, I’ve been advocating for the home-based lifestyle.
There is something about working from home that promotes accountability, responsibility, and personal drive. You also get to experience the balance of family and work, learn to be comfortable in your own space, and assess your own bandwidth as you set boundaries and ‘rules’ for yourself.
As the world shifts due to COVID-19, more and more people are enjoying working remotely. So whether this type of lifestyle is old news for you, or something you’re dabbling in for the first time, I wanted to offer some help. Here are a few of the best tools for working from home (in my opinion):
I run my own business, but even though I don’t have ‘coworkers’ most of the time, I’ve still needed ways to stay in touch with groups I’m a part of and teams I write content for. I also like staying in the loop with other female founders, business owners, and freelancers, which is why communication tools and apps come first on my list.
I’ve used Slack with different teams over the years and I think what attracts me the most is its organization. You can access on phone, browser, or desktop and enable notifications if you’d like to stay in know all the time. There are options for different channels (which you can create based on the departments or projects) and you can also private message people. Everything syncs to a calendar of choice. There are also apps integrated into the platform as well (ex: Google Drive, Zoom, or even emojis!) [Try Slack!]
I’ve just started using Voxer for messages because I’ve found it’s so much easier (as someone who’s always on the go) to just use voice message. I’m an avid voice-texter, but sometimes the message gets jumbled. With Voxer, I can simply record and send in a way that *feels* more fun, but is still formal. You can also personalize your profile, too, to make the platform more branded. [Try Voxer!]
One of the biggest challenges in working remotely is finding ways to stay on task. As many people are home due to the pandemic, this can be even more challenging! Now people are navigating families and children, schoolwork and personal obligations, and a myriad of interruptions! Here are a few of the best tools for working from home to help with keeping you on task and accountable.
When it comes down to teamwork, Asana makes everything simple. As a project management platform, you can use Asana to create projects, collaborate with team members, integrate files and comments, and even develop schedules. This is something I’d definitely recommend for larger teams, as you can connect people, post deadlines, and even follow-up with timed notifications. [Try Asana!]
PS: Qualifying nonprofits assisting COVID-19 research can get a FREE 1-year business subscription!
When I originally discovered this timer, I was thinking about how it would be useful for my son and keeping him accountable for different tasks throughout the day (especially with his distance learning). However, I’ve come to use it far more. From a teeth-brushing timer to setting limits on my work time vs. web browsing, Ticktime has come in handy to keep me accountable.
I’ve also found that the one-touch flip makes it easy for me to stay on task. Rather than the ‘cumbersome’ ways I’ve set time in the past: harassing my Google home, laboring through my phone settings, or trying to just ‘pay attention’ to the clock, Ticktime has offered a quick and simple solution — regardless of where I’ve set up my desk. [Try TickTime!]
For Content Creation:
Working remotely often requires you to be creative independently. While this is a good thing, sometimes it helps to have a little guidance and support. Here are a few of the best tools for working from home in terms of creativity and content development.
I can’t even begin to explain how much Canva has helped me over the past few years. There’s something about seeing other creative designs and having the freedom to modify templates and ideas that I just love! Sometimes it’s so hard to start from scratch. When I can reference ideas from others, but re-shape them to fit my own ideas, I get inspired. Canva is reasonably priced, too, which is also a perk! [Try Canva!]
I started using Loom this year to help with creating screen-grabs and shares of my desktop. I’ve found that it’s one of the easiest ways to work remotely and share my screen (especially if I’d like to create a video that others can look back on). What’s great about Loom is the simple interface. With a few clicks, you can record your screen (and your camera, too). You can also make an accessible library for others, or easily post the content elsewhere. [Try Loom!]
PS: Loom is cutting prices and recording limits through July 1, 2020 due to COVID-19! You can get Loom Pro FREE for 30 days and pay half-price on a Pro plan through the end of June. PPS: There are a few other great video tools that I share about in this blog post if you’re interested!
I’ve become familiar with Visme over the past year and have to add it to the list because of the ease in collaboration for remote work. When you’re working from home, you want to stay connected with coworkers. Visme allows you to create dynamic reports, infographics, presentations, and marketing materials with ease. You can comment on projects in real-time and plans vary from free to paid (with a 20% COVID-19 discount until June 2020!) [Try Visme!]
There’s something to be said for using tools to help you put the final touches on your work. As a writer and editor, I can’t advocate for this enough! I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve come across with misspelled words, or website copy that’s grammatically incorrect. Although it may seem tedious, taking the extra steps to ensure your writing is top-notch is SO important.
Perhaps this isn’t a content creation tool, per se, but as a writer and editor, I’m HUGE on making sure all of my communication is polished. Although I believe in reading and re-reading content to find our own errors, I like relying on Grammarly to do a quick-check while I’m creating. I also like brushing up on different comma rules, too, and having that editor ‘over my shoulder’ to make sure my writing is on par. [Try Grammarly!]
When you’re working remotely, almost every app or tool assists with collaboration. But if you’re looking for something that’s specifically designed to make working together (while apart) easier, than here are a few I’d recommend.
What I love about Dropbox is how easy it is to share files (especially in large quantities). I use this for my videographer for my business to easily share content back and forth. There’s also the ‘Paper’ feature, too, which allows for both documents and spreadsheets within the platform as well. [Try Dropbox!]
Okay, I can’t have a ‘best tools for working from home’ list without including Google Docs. A tried and true favorite, I avidly use Google Docs to communicate with clients worldwide. There’s something about the simplicity of a co-written document where I can add comments, make edits, or post changes with a few clicks that you can’t deny. [Try GoogleDocs!]
Other Tools for Working From Home:
We’re in a period of time where working remotely is the norm. Personally, my daily habits, tools, and best practices are always changing or growing as I learn more. (This is why I’m always writing content on these topics!)
If you have some tools or ideas to share, please feel free to leave a comment or send me an email with your thoughts. In the meantime, stay happy, healthy, and sane! Remember, this new normal isn’t easy.
You are doing just fine!