Archive for the ‘For Your Comfort’ Category
There are lots of productivity tools, and in this episode we share our personal favourites. Everybody is different, so you’ll have to discover what works best for you. But we hope that by seeing what we use, you’ll be able to adapt them for your own productivity needs.
Listen to the episode here:
Links and Resources
- Timer app on phone: Helps implement the Pomodoro Technique for doing work sprints.
- Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome: Better than IE and Safari because they have so many great extensions
- Gmail: Much easier to use than, say, Outlook, because it’s in the Cloud.
- Kindle: Easy to download samples; available across all my devices (via the Kindle app)
- Pocket (formerly Read It Later): Allows you to bookmark interesting content for reading later
- Buffer: Automate/schedule the publication of your tweets, posts and status updates on various social media platforms
- Dropbox: Perfect for sharing files across all devices
- Evernote: Similar to Dropbox, but better for tag, sorting and searching; it can also handle “snippets” better (e.g. photos, infographics, handdrawn notes)
- Google Drive: Started life as Google Docs, a Cloud-based productivity suite (word processor, spreadsheet, slide deck, etc.); now a Cloud-based file storage system
- GoToMeeting and Google Hangouts: Use these for audio/video conferencing. Includes screen sharing, one-click recording, and other useful collaboration features
- Skype: Use SkypeOut to call anybody anywhere; easier and more convenient than a landline
- LastPass: Password manager that has a really useful feature to share passwords securely with others
- Google Calendar / Tasks / Contacts: Google’s Cloud-based calendar, to do list and people list
Taking short regular breaks helps you stay fresh and focussed when working Out of Office. GotoPC recently asked workers to vote on their favourite ways of taking a break. The results are summarised in the infographic below.
One of the benefits of the Out of Office work style is the flexibility it affords to working parents. However, when working Out of Office, parents need to recognise the dangers a home office presents to small children.
Kimberly Black has posted an interesting article on ways to Childproof Your Home Office. Kimberly’s advice is essentially that you must apply the same childproofing to your home office as you do to the rest of your home. This includes:
- Preventing easily avoidable accidents
- Protecting against choking hazards
- Childproofing electrical outlets
- Installing surge protectors
- Preventing access to danger
Read Kimberly’s article in full on the Virtual Vocations blog.
In this episode, we share 25 simple but effective tips for improving your Out of Office work style – in the areas of productivity, e-mail, reducing interruptions, flexibility, and online meetings.
Listen to the episode here:
Buy the book here (available at a reduced price for a limited time).
Summary of the 25 tips:
Set up your workspace with productivity in mind:
- Have a dedicated office
- Make it easy to switch between workspaces
- Create good ergonomics
- Make it a place where you like to work
- Turn off alerts for non-urgent communication
- Conversely, allow important and urgent messages to get through
- Educate people about your work day
- Schedule work for quiet times
Manage your time:
- Use the Pomodoro Technique or Work Sprints
- Set priorities for the day
- Track your time
- Focus on outcomes and results, and keep promises you make to others
Handle email efficiently:
- Don’t use your inbox as your To Do list.
- Separate processing from responding
- Unsubscribe from irrelevant newsletters, notifications, and mailing lists
- Use sub-folders to organise incoming mail
Run better online meetings:
- Have a pre-meeting checklist
- Know what you want to get from the meeting
- “Arrive” early, and be ready to start on time
- Get comfortable with the technology
Be flexible, but in a smart way:
- Set aside dedicated time slots each week for certain things
- Establish a routine for the day
- Set weekly goals rather than daily goals
- Mix it up
- Try different things, and break all the rules!
Fast Company magazine published an interesting article with advice for telecommuters. You can read the full article here, but in summary, here are the three things the author, Kevin Purdy, advises:
- Look the Part, Be the Part (dress up as if you’re going to the office)
- Schedule offline social time, batch your online social time (schedule your breaks, just like you’d do in the office)
- Realize when the problem is motivation, not space (do stuff that motivates you)
I have no argument with the second point, and in fact we endorse that in the book “Out of Office” when talking about personal productivity. But the other two points are more controversial.
First, I don’t believe it’s necessary to “suit up” if you’re working from home. Of course, I’m not suggesting you dress and act like a slob in your home office! But that’s just an extreme, and dressing up for the office is the other extreme. For many Out of Office workers, one of the biggest benefits is that every day is Casual Friday, and it’s good enough to dress comfortably. If you do find it helps to dress slightly better, then do so, but it’s certainly not necessary.
The other point – about working on stuff that motivates you – makes sense, but the advice isn’t always practical. We might all wish for more inspiring work, but that’s true whether or not we work in an office. Purdy doesn’t offer anything useful to improve the situation (other than a vague suggestion to “plan your next move”). Of course, if you can arrange to do something more meaningful and interesting, that helps. But sometimes you really do need to roll up your sleeves and do what needs to be done. In that latter situation, it’s far better to focus on being more productive rather than wishing for something better.
When you’re working Out of Office, you often don’t get the natural distractions that come from working with others. Although some of these distractions can be annoying and harmful to your productivity, they also have some positive side effects. In particular, they prevent you from spending excessively long intervals working at your desk. This means you have to be disciplined enough to create your own management plan to prevent stress, poor posture, and overwork.
The Workshifting team has five suggestions to help:
- Take frequent breathers.
- Walk at lunch.
- Play some of your favorite tunes.
- Don’t be afraid to say No.
One of the biggest advantages of telecommuting is of course the opportunity to have better balance in your life. But this doesn’t always work in practice. Lea Green suggests these five tips for telecommuters in order to increase your balance:
- Empower yourself to power down.
- Compartmentalize to create and recreate.
- Experiment with your creative cycles.
- Daydream to dream big.
- Train your mind to focus.
Many organisations are facing the issue of employees wanting to use their own phones, tablets and other devices at work. This is called “BYOD”, or Bring Your Own Device.
Most of the discussion around BYOD is about how organisations can manage security, access and privacy (One of my friends, who works in IT for a large organisation, calls it “Bring Your Own Disaster”). But it goes beyond that, and perhaps users think these devices are more powerful and more productive than is actually the case.
One of the most important things you’ll do as an Out of Office worker is to set up your workspace for comfort and convenience. The Smashing Apps blog has a wonderful collection of 40 such workspaces from real Out of Office workers.
Your own workspace will be unique, of course, but I hope you can use this collection for ideas, insights and inspiration!
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