Working from home and productivity don’t always go hand in hand. But it can if you have the right tools. Working at home means you need to maximize your time, so you don’t work 24 hours a day, and you can ignore the laundry when it’s not time to do it.
This is part of the Work from Home Series I started in response to questions I get about how I manage my time and obligations with my family life and businesses.
Previous posts include:
WiFi is of course the MOST important tool, so I can’t leave it off the list. More importantly reliable and fast WiFi is the key to having a successful work at home job. In our house Verizon is our provider and we LOVE them. WiFi is like your lifeline when you work at home, so it’s a necessary tool and essential that it works seamlessly. FiOS internet speed is ranked the fastest in the nation by PCMag, and we find it’s SO much faster than our previous provider.
More reading: Spoiled By FiOS
Choosing the right computer for your needs is essential. Consumer Reports offers some great advice on the options that are available and making the right choice for your needs.
Personally we have two Mac laptops, one older PC laptop, and a new PC laptop. My husband and son also have work and school issued computers (both Macs). The PC we recently purchased was to aid my oldest son in his programming efforts (computer and robotics programming).
While I adore my Macs I know they aren’t the right price point for everyone, however I do feel this is often a case that you get what you pay for. My MacBook is going on 4 years now. We recently spent about $125 to upgrade some parts and it’s like having a new computer again. Well worth the investment for me since it allows me to do everything I need from anywhere.
An essential tool for working (and playing) on the go smartphones are a great addition to your basic tools. Providing you with access to emails, social media, the web, and productivity apps on the go. again I’ll confess my love for Apple’s iPhone. We have been able to ‘flip’ our phones every time we upgrade so we end up with a net zero (or earn back money) on our purchase. Our monthly plan is discounted through my husband’s work, and we are also able to write off a majority of the usage of our phones for work so in the end it is worth the expense for the boost in my productivity, and the cost ends up being not that expensive when all is said and done.
For traveling and occasionally working around others (coffee shop or bookstores breaks are helpful) having a mobile device is helpful. Tablets, smartphones or a laptop are all helpful for working on the go. I often turn on my iPhone and stream music or have my iPad to my left with a show I want to catch up on running as I work. Multi-tasking at its’ finest.
Bonus Advice: Jessica (FoundtheMarbles) shares a great tip for the necessity for a change of scenery. “Typically I am productive while working from home but every so often if the laundry is calling during work hours or if I am finding that I’m too easily distracted, I head to the library or to Starbucks for a few hours. The occasional change of scenery does wonders for me.”
Tools that Help:
Coffee Break app for Mac:
You can use this app to set breaks throughout your day, as well as individual breaks. It allows you to set how long the break is as well as the features that pop up to remind you.
Amanda (HighImpactMom) manages multiple social media channels and has a variety of clients so she uses FreshBooks to help her track her time for clients, make invoices, and track earnings.
An essential tool to keep you from procrastinating and remind you to get up once in awhile! Jessica (DebtPrincess) used a timer to help her kids understand when it was playtime. Jessica shares, “For me it’s setting boundaries. When I had a little one at home I would tell him, “you need to play on your own until the timer goes off and then we’ll play a game together.”
Bonus Advice: Dresden (Creating Motherhood) also shares that an oven timer is key. “I swear by the oven timer. A timer on my phone is too easily turned off. But having to stand up and walk to the kitchen to turn off the timer is a good forced break. When I am working at home I do tasks in 60 – 90 minute waves.”
Listening to music can help you focus and keep energized. Pandora and Spotify are great tools for listening to free music from a variety of artists. I have several mixes including a high energy mix to keep me motivated when I’m ready for a break but working on a deadline, and more relaxing music when I need music but not distraction.
Bonus Advice: Jessica (It’s My Life) “I use Pandora a lot to stream “soft” music to help keep me focused. It keeps the house noise at bay.”
Noise Canceling Earphones or Headphones:
These are an essential tool for any work at home parent. It helps to keep household noises from distracting you, and are essential when you have a work call or have to put in some time working when the kids are at home. they are also ideal for conference or work calls so you can keep your hands free to take notes. These are two options that get rave reviews.
Julie Meyers Pron (Julieverse) says meal planning is an essential part of keeping her busy schedule a little more sane. You can find my own year-long meal plan here, and Julie shares her meal plans every week. It helps to have your lunch meals planned out as well as dinners so you don’t forget to eat!
Notebooks and Pens:
As digital as my life is I love a good notebook and a pen. There’s something about writing something that helps me make a stronger mental connection, and I just LOVE crossing things off a to do list.
If you don’t use Google Calendar you should be. Available across platforms and devices you can sync your calendar from anywhere and anytime. The most useful feature is to create a shared family calendar where I can add events that effect the entire family’s schedule. This calendar will be updated on everyone’s device nearly instantly. I also have separate calendars for Work (including sponsor deadlines), Home, Appointments and more.
A useful tool for capturing everything in one place. Whether it’s a note, clips, websites, or photos you can store it all in one place. Also available via mobile apps.
DropBox is the best resource for sharing a variety of documents from spreadsheets to word documents with anyone you need to including groups. You can provide access to folder access to select folders. It makes it simple to share a group of documents with an individual or group. Also available as an app for sharing and downloading on the go.
This Google add-on is a great way to track emails and allows you to send emails later, followup on emails, and track when someone opens your email.
WiseStamp is another great add on to Gmail that allows you to make a custom signature including links to your social accounts and more.
- 1099Mom: A blog dedicated to work at home mom.
- Productivity Tips from a variety of work at home sources.
- 7 Tools for Increasing Productivity
What are your favorite tools to stay productive while working from home?
Disclosure: As a Verizon ambassador I am compensated for my time, and received an iPad to try out the new FiOS app. This post contains some affiliate links.