Productivity — unlike its evil twin, procrastination — is not easy to come by. This is especially true when we attempt to work from home amidst more distractions than we can count. From an inviting, cosy bed to a noisy family member, there is a lot to contend with when working from home. With so much going on, staying focused without the help of productivity tools can prove to be a herculean task.
As the two distinct worlds of work and home collide, it becomes increasingly difficult to create a healthy work-life balance. In addition to the distractions, people also struggle with overworking and burnout. Technological glitches, miscommunication, and isolation can become increasingly frustrating.
Thankfully, these challenges can be overcome. Here is a list of the 12 best productivity tools and apps that can help you stay focused and productive at home.
Best To-Do List Apps
Like the name suggests, Todoist provides a holistic task manager to help you keep track of all your daily goals. From grocery lists to academic assignments, Todoist gives you total control over the tasks that you need to complete. Its sleek interface eliminates the chaos of multiple lists and makes it easy to track progress. It also allows you to prioritize and delegate tasks, create subtasks, and get analytical reports of your performance.
Evernote is for anybody who finds themselves forgetting little errands or has a sudden burst of inspiration with no convenient place to jot it down.
Evernote allows you to sync all of your notes and checklist across all devices so that you can access them any time anywhere. It also has a feature that can allow you to read digital versions of physical documents. Evernote is also great for team projects as well and allows users to attach any audio recordings or reference links.
So, if it is a note-taking app that you need, then Evernote is the app for you. And a bonus, Evernote is among a handful of other premium productivity apps that offer free trials.
Best Apps For Time Tracking
When working from home, it is fairly easy to lose your grip on reality — let alone time. Hours can stretch into days and before you know it, weeks have gone by without you achieving anything on your list. Additionally, it's easy to overestimate how much we are capable of achieving in a day. Tracking time can help keep our goals realistic and time-bound. So, if the barrage of consecutive alarms hasn’t been working for you so far, maybe these time tracking productivity apps can help you stay on track.
If you have trouble with keeping track of time, Timely can automate the entire process for you. As you go about your day working, it records all of your activity to a private timeline. With this preliminary record in place, you can then see how long each task takes you, identify and eliminate distractions and figure out what time of day you work the best.
The app can also help you ensure that you do not overwork by giving you a running total of your everyday work hours. Using AI technology, Timely can draft up timesheets that you can share with your co-workers or managers. Timely is accurate, efficient and most importantly keeps you accountable with minimum effort.
Toggl is another great app that tracks the amount of time that you spend on various tasks throughout the day. It incorporates this into invoices to provide you with an accurate breakdown of how you spend your time and how much you achieve. By highlighting the tasks that are taking you longer than they should, Toggl helps to keep you focused and can also help you set more attainable goals for the future. Additionally, Toggl's constant countdown is always a great incentive to get your work done on time. Toggl also has one of the best free trials for productivity tools.
Best Focus Apps
Working from home is an open invitation to distractions galore, from resisting the urge to spiral down the Instagram vortex to getting your roommates or family members to tone it down so that you can work in peace. There is a lot to wrestle with when working within the home space. Fortunately for those of us who struggle to keep our minds from straying, these apps to help you focus can keep us from wandering too far away.
If you cannot resist the temptation of your cell phone, then maybe the motivation of making a positive impact on the environment will help. Forest gets you to stay off your phone by planting a digital seed once you start a task. The longer you stay without exiting the app to go elsewhere, the more your tree will grow.
The more sessions you complete with success, the larger your forest grows to give you an idea of just how much progress you have made. It is amazing just how addictively rewarding it is to see your forest flourish. As an added bonus, the virtual coins that you earn through the app can be spent to plant trees in the real world.
The app is simple yet effective and a great way to encourage the development of better habits and increased productivity.
Serene is an all-encompassing productivity platform that allows you to make the most of your workday. It can block distracting websites and apps to keep you from taking that one Buzzfeed quiz that turns into one hundred. It also allows you to work in short power sessions so that you don’t spend too much or too little time on a single task.
Some of its other features include a daily planner, a to-do-list, a phone silencer, and so on. It’s pretty much all you need to kick some productivity butt. It is one of the best productivity apps for Mac. Serene is also a super affordable focus booster with plugins for both Chrome and Firefox.
Best Apps For Project Management
Organization is no easy feat and when working from home it can be easy to let loose the reins a little bit. So, here are some great organization apps to help you plan out a more comprehensive digital workspace.
Adopting the Kanban Method, Trello is a highly effective and flexible project management tool. Great for everything from academic projects to businesses, Trello creates a platform for efficient organization and task management.
Trello features a straightforward, user-friendly interface it allows you to keep a track of project progress every step of the way. It uses cards to organize ideas and assigns tasks. These cards can be sorted on the basis of various departments.
Trello also streamlines communication and can eliminate the mess of constant emails and memos. It makes it easy to keep the entire team up-to-date and informed on the progress of various tasks thus reducing the chance of miscommunication.
Brainstorming can be a confusing and trying process. One thought leads to another and before you know it, your mind is whirling with a tornado of ideas. It can be quite stressful and very often, the chaos makes it difficult to grasp onto concrete ideas before they disappear.
Mindnode can come in handy here as a place to turn your thoughts into a visual mind map. Visual representations can clear your mind of the clutter and help you make more sense of your ideas. It can also help you keep track of your ideas and categorize them in more meaningful ways.
Best Tools For Communication and Collaboration
With communication gaps and misunderstandings galore, working remotely can become more stressful than it needs to be. Sorting through email, texts, scheduling and rescheduling meetings, making sure that everyone is on the same page at all times can get cumbersome after a point. Luckily enough, these fabulous tools can save the day and streamline communication.
Slack is among the most popular tools for team communication and collaboration. Its basic purpose is to replace tedious email exchanges with an intuitive interface that gives users the freedom to work and communicate together from anywhere in the world.
Slack incorporates instant messaging, voice and video calls, file exchanging and over 2000 other productivity apps into one powerful platform to help streamline communication between teams. You can organize different tasks and projects by creating channels. It can also help keep your co-workers accountable and dedicated to the work at hand.
Created by remote workers for remote workers, Slack is quick, efficient and a great way to keep your productivity on the upswing.
Getting a group together in the real world is hard enough without considering the challenges brought about by the virtual world. With busy schedules and incompatible hours, organizing meetings can be a rather taxing task.
Calendly helps with this by making organizing virtual group meetings and collaborations as seamlessly as possible. Team members can set their own available time slots, managers can then schedule meetings accordingly, and attendees must simply confirm their presence.
Calendly’s features make it easy to manage back-to-back meetings, as it allows you to set a buffer period between events. It gives users the ability to set a maximum limit on the number of meetings that can be conducted in a day. It also automatically shows the user’s time zone, to make scheduling meetings more convenient for members working overseas.
Best Tools For Disconnecting
A digital workspace brings up a ton of challenges and distractions that can keep you from being as productive as you’d like to be. Being cooped at home can stifle creativity and it often takes more energy than you’d think to stay motivated. Furthermore, as the line between your work and home life starts to blur, both your productivity and personal life start to suffer.
At the end of a workday, it is important to disconnect and switch off. An essential part of keeping your energy up and productivity flowing is to create a positive mind space for yourself. Add to your repertoire of productivity tools a few apps that work towards your own personal growth.
Though essentially a website and app-blocking tool, Cold Turkey gives you an option called Frozen Turkey which completely locks you out of your computer for specific, scheduled periods of time. So, if shutting down your laptop rarely feels like an option, you can always go Cold Turkey for a bit.
To those pesky pop-up notifications on your phone away, Daywise is a blessing. This app allows you to schedule your notifications so that they do not bother you when you are taking some time off.
Headspace is also a great tool that can help cultivate mindfulness and positivity to combat the stressors in our day-to-day lives. Some of the best exercise apps like Strava or the Nike Training Club can motivate you to keep active while at home.
Working remotely and merging our spaces of work and leisure has been a challenge to us all. From struggling to stay productive and make the most of your day to being unable to maintain a healthy work-balance, adapting to this change has been difficult. The good news, however, is that it does get easier with time.
Businesses are restructuring and work culture is changing. So, when working from home, it is even more crucial to carve out time to look after yourself. Find what works for you and use technology to your advantage to help you meet your goals on a regular basis. Focus on your passions outside of work and find ways to unwind after a long day. Productivity as the cost of burning out is worthless in the long run.