11 best-in-class work from home productivity tools
Last updated on
August 12, 2020
Remote work is one of the most productive work models going – but that doesn’t mean home workers are immune to distraction or immediately find their groove. Whether it’s being constantly interrupted by app notifications or simply not knowing how to structure your time, there are dozens of ways our productivity can be hampered at home. If you find yourself overwhelmed or just need a little discipline to stay focused, check out these eleven productivity tools for home workers.
As a remote worker, time tracking is ridiculously important. Instead of bombarding you with timers, Timely does the whole job for you – automatically recording all your activity to a private timeline while you work. From here you can see how long different tasks take, identify distractions, and figure out when you work best. With a running total of your daily hours, it’s also easy to ensure you don’t overwork. It can also draft time sheets for you using AI, if you need to share your work with colleagues and managers. If you want accurate time tracking with minimal effort, this one's a no-brainer.
One of the best productivity timers out there is also one of the simplest. Pomodoro Tracker is based on the pomodoro technique, which is a super accessible way to manage time. If you find it hard to focus or are unsure how to structure your time, simply visit the Pomodoro Tracker site and set yourself a 25 minute limit to crack on with a task. Once the 25 minutes is up, take a five minute break – then begin the process again. You’ll be surprised at how much you can get done and how easy it is to stay focused when you’re working against a ticking clock.
You can cut down enormously on post-meeting follow up communications by using Otter, which generates smart notes that gather and organize audio, text and images. You can use the app's 'Ambient Voice Intelligence' to turn your spoken words into instantly shareable text – which saves you hours of time when it comes to minute taking. Otter is also able to recognize individual speakers, and uses AI to quickly find related documents and files in response to specific phrases.
Email is one of the biggest drains of productive time, with the average worker spending almost a quarter of their day checking their inbox and replying to emails. Check out email management tools like Boomerang that can remove emails from your inbox if they don’t require immediate attention or aren’t relevant. You can also use Boomerang to write better emails, schedule meetings, send emails automatically at specific times, schedule recurring messages, and set non-urgent emails to “boomerang” back in your inbox at a later date.
We’ve all been there: you’ve finally found your flow and got stuck into a task, only to have a rogue notification steal away your focus. Thankfully, Dewo can manage these digital distractions for you and act as a protective force field around your work. It uses AI to recognize when you enter a flow state and automatically triggers "Do Not Disturb" mode on chat apps like Slack once you’re there. It can also automatically schedule meeting times for minimal impact on your productivity, outsourcing all meeting coordination to relieve you of time-wasting admin.
If you find it hard to focus on one thing at a time, check out HazeOver, which literally fades out other distractions so you can focus on the task at hand. Whether it’s having countless tabs or windows open or getting lost in multiple monitors, help yourself focus on what’s important and stay present by allowing HazeOver to automatically highlight the one window you’re actually working on, and fade the rest into the background.
With the average worker checking their inbox 15 times each day – that’s every 37 minutes – email is a huge source of distraction. Limiting how much you check it each day can help protect your focus and significantly reduce daily psychological stress. If you’re lacking the discipline to do this yourself, try using the Chrome extension Inbox When Ready. Its inbox lockout feature is great for batch processing your inbox and limiting how often you can access your emails.
To stay aligned and visible, remote teams communicate a lot. But don’t let your already unruly inbox overwhelm you. With SaneBox, you can ensure you only focus on the important messages. Its AI ranks and filters your inbox, moving newsletters, ‘CC messages and other emails it understands to be unimportant into separate folders. You’re left with a slimmed inbox of high-priority messages, and an intelligent folder structure for low-priority ones – ready for you whenever you have the time.
Basecamp allows you to streamline all internal communications and ensure nothing slips through the cracks. Forget spreading work across a group of apps; with Basecamp, you break your work into projects, and each project contains absolutely everything you need: every discussion, every task, every date, every chat. With message boards and real-time group chat, everyone can stay on the same page and find whatever they need, whenever they need it. Emailing colleagues to ask where things are, or forgetting who said what will be a thing of the past.
All good ideas start with just a single thought… but as creative people know, this often turns into another thought, then another, until you have an escalation of thoughts you have to desperately jot down before they disappear. Save yourself stress by using MindNode, which helps capture all your thoughts and turn them into a clear picture of your idea. Using visual brainstorming, you can personalize your own “mind map” to help make sense of thoughts and ideas, and keep your mind clear, tidy and decluttered.
Magnet helps keep your workspace organized even when you have to work across multiple windows or tabs. When working between multiple apps or comparing data, you need to have windows arranged in a specific way, and Magnet makes this process easy, clean and simple. By locking windows to the side of your screen whenever you drag them, Magnet eliminates app switching and massively enhances workspace efficiency.