This blog is part of our 100% Remote Operations: Working From Home series.
Thus far, most have made the transition from typical office spaces to home workspaces. In our personal boundary-setting blog, we discussed the fundamentals of how best to establish your home-working place. If there were a “hierarchy of needs” to portray the requirements of successfully working from home, the organization and mental preparation of boundary-setting would serve as the foundation. After creating a strong foundation, safety/cybersecurity and efficient communication comprise the next two levels, respectively. With a base of these three levels, an employee can enter the next half of the hierarchy, involving growth and increased productivity.
While continuing to settle into the basic flow of working from home, you may find that distractions and new schedules may detract for your ability to concentrate and get work done effectively. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools available to improve focus, organization, taking breaks, and other aspects of home-office life. Further, the use of technology and tools can help better-set boundaries and create an ideal workflow, building off of the lower levels in the home-working hierarchy of needs. In this blog, we present several technology solutions and tools available to help improve various aspects of working from home.
Tools For Organization
When coordinating your work across a variety of platforms, taking and then organizing notes can be a challenge. Note-taking tools are extremely useful here, as they promote organization through virtual notebooks, which can then be sorted by project, client, topic, etc. Notes and records are easily searchable and trackable, alleviating the pain of manually organizing paper notes and reminders yourself. Standard, less-customizable notes applications are available pre-downloaded on many devices as well.
Notes tools we suggest:
Most devices come with an already available, or downloadable “reminders” application. When setting reminders here, you can also set and schedule notifications based on date, time, and location. You also have the option to connect your email to the reminders so that they are viewable across each device you own.
Reminder tools we suggest:
Tools For Time Management
These days the only way to stay connected with others in your life is through virtual means, making it likely you have notifications popping up on your devices throughout the day. A steady barrage of beeps, bings, and rings can detract you from your work at hand. If the do not disturb function is just not cutting it for you, there are other tools available to block notifications on your devices.
Notification Blockers we suggest:
Setting Time Limits
A functionality on your device you may not be aware of is the ability to set time limits for apps. Social media and other platforms have been developed to keep you coming back, which can end up being a significant time-zap. By setting limits to how much time you spend on each app, or type of app, you consciously give yourself more time to use elsewhere. To set time limits on your device, you can find the functionality under “settings” for most phone models.
Aside from time limits in your phone’s settings, here are other tools to monitor time limits:
- Escape: monitor how often you visit distracting sites
- HazeOver: hazes out background windows on your computer, allowing you to focus on the primary working window
- Focus: replaces distracting websites with motivational quotes for a set amount of time
Tools for Mindfulness and Stress Management
With everything going on, keeping track of deadlines, schedules, and your own well-being can feel overwhelming at times. And, whether you live alone or with others, distractors may look different than they do in the office. Keeping track of your personal and professional time can feel like a whirlwind, but taking time to reset and refresh throughout the day can be hugely beneficial.
Music and White Noise
Regardless of which music and media platform you are partial to, there are thousands of playlists curated to aid concentration. According to psychcentral.com, listening to music can serve as a highly-useful stress management tool. Music preferences may vary, but soft, lyric-less music has been shown to decrease stress levels by lowering blood pressure and heart rate.
The stress reduction associated with listening to music not only has the potential to improve physical well-being but mental health as well. Those who are overall more content and less stressed tend to perform better in terms of initiative and productivity.
However, if you are not partial to listening to music while working, white noise is also perfectly acceptable to listen to, as it also effectively drowns out noisy distractions. To discover the best playlists for you, simply searching “productivity”, “white noise”, or “working from home” will yield hundreds of results.
Playlists and tools we suggest:
Similar to listening to music, meditation is also a stress reducer as it is a sort of training for your mind to focus better through mindfulness. The process of meditation promotes gaining more control over emotions and wandering thoughts, allowing you to better stay in-touch with yourself. As a result, meditation has also been proven to improve one’s outlook, sleep schedule, and self-discipline. It is recommended to meditate once at the beginning of the day, and once at the end of the day.
Meditation tools we suggest:
Use What Works Best For You
During these times of uncertainty, prioritization and organization can be difficult, however, overcoming these challenges is possible by putting well-being first. Balancing the many competing aspects of personal and professional life is more doable with outside help. Fortunately, there are many tools and applications within arm’s reach to help improve where you feel it is necessary. With many options available, you can discover and implement the platforms, tools, apps, etc. that work best for you.