Home office (2)

Working from home may sound like a dream come true but it doesn’t come without its problems. It’s all too easy to get distracted, or the opposite can happen and you’ll spend far longer sat in front of your computer than you would in an office. It’s also important to have systems for staying organised and managing your tasks and, if necessary, to be able to easily work with colleagues remotely.

But there are technological solutions to these problems. Here I will share eight apps to help you stay on track when working from home.

StayFocusd

Distractions abound when working from home, and the internet is one of the biggest culprits. This browser extension helps to prevent time wasting by limiting how long you can spend on non-work related activities.

Tell it what sites you want to block (down to sub domains, individual pages or even specific types of content) and set a time limit. Once you’ve used up your allowance for that day it will prevent you accessing specified sites.

Trello

Trello is a free service which provides project boards for organising tasks. Just add a card to your board, fill it out and check off tasks when complete. Trello is great for both planning a project and staying organised by tracking progress.

It’s also really easy to collaborate with others by inviting them to access your board, so it’s something that’s not just useful as personal task manager but is also helpful when managing a team project, even if everyone is working in different locations.

Evernote

This powerful notes app works on both desktop and mobile platforms. It’s flexible enough to handle anything from simple note taking to organising large projects.

Notes can be just text or embellished with pictures, video and audio. Once saved they’re uploaded to the cloud so all your notes can be accessed on any device. It’s also hugely useful for collaboration as you can communicate with other people and discuss tasks without ever leaving the application.

Toggl

If your time is billable or you’re looking to maximise productivity then Toggl is a must-have as it makes tracking time effortless.

Simply hit a button when you start and finish a task and Toggl will note the time, with the ability to add tags or organise by project. It’s cross platform and so easy to use you can quickly deploy it to an entire team.

Sketchboard

This is a cool collaboration app which just runs through a browser, so now installs or downloads are required. It provides a sketch board on which you can draw freehand or using pre-set shapes and throw in text and other elements to easily conceptualise visual ideas or plan out complex tasks.

It’s especially useful for working with others as the changes occur in real time and anyone invited to the sketchboard page can get involved.

eyeCare

It’s important to take regular screen breaks but when at home a workaholic can easily spend huge amounts of time in front of their display.

The eyeCare extension for Chrome will remind you to give your eyes a rest at a regular interval and provide suggestions for exercising on your screen breaks. As well as notifying via the browser it can also provide desktop alerts, though you’re given plenty of customisation options for configuring how and when it will interrupt.

Dropbox

Dropbox makes file management painless by harnessing cloud storage. Data stored on your Dropbox account is not only accessible across multiple devices but backed up online so you can recover files if the original source is lost.

It’s also a very easy method for sharing files, which you can do instantly by generating a shared URL for any file or folder on your Dropbox account.

F.Lux

We’re slowly waking up to the fact that the blue light from phone and computer screens is not conducive to a good night’s sleep.

F.Lux is designed to alleviate this by adjusting your screen colours and brightness according to the time of day. Once installed on your computer or mobile device it will automatically dial back on the blue light in the evening. If you’re in the habit of looking at a screen just before bed it can help you get a more restful night’s sleep and be ready to tackle a new day.

By Matt Powell from Broadband Genie