If you want to remain productive and on top of your workload while enjoying the comforts of home living and a work-life balance, the following apps may help you.
- To stay connected
- For organising
- For time management
- For brainstorming
- For removing distractions
- For staying safe online
Whether you’re an employee at a company or a freelancer, it’s important to stay connected with colleagues and clients. Online working has its own challenges - namely internet problems - but there are plenty of apps out there that help businesses stay in touch virtually.
Zoom is a video app that allows up to 100 people to join an online call, for meetings or for social gatherings. You can either download the app or use it via your web browser.
- Meetings are secure as all participants must have the correct login ID and password to enter
- Hosts can mute other microphones if they are distracting
- There is a chat option for people with broken or muted microphones
- Anyone can share their screen and present
- Safe Driving Mode for if you’re connecting via phone call while travelling
- Free and paid licenses available
Google Meet is another video platform that up to 250 users can join for face-to-face chatting. Unlike some video apps, there is no time limit for how long you can stay on before being kicked out.
The host must have a Google email account (Gmail) to activate, but all joining parties can access the meeting simply through a link.
- Video meetings are encrypted for safety and privacy purposes
- Easy to access via shared link
- Anyone can share their screen to present
- Speech-to-text technology can caption voices for those hard of hearing
Slack is an online communication platform that allows companies to easily message and call each other. The app can be downloaded onto any device, so you can message your colleagues on your phone as well as your computer.
- Available on any device, phone and laptop
- Share and edit documents
- Start chat channels for dedicated topics
- Directly message individuals or groups of people
- Customise notifications to mute certain channels or alert everyone to a specific message
- Set your status to inform colleagues that you’re at lunch, on holiday, feeling sick, and more
Often, you’ll have a whole list of things to do during your work day, and balancing your workload with other household tasks (like cooking, parenting, and cleaning) can make organising your to-do list very difficult. Luckily, there are some apps to help keep your duties in check.
Microsoft To-Do is a task management app that helps you organise your to-do jobs, both personal and professional, with a variety of tools like: task lists, notes, record collections, event plans, and reminders.
- Daily Planner: write down your to-do list and receive recommendations based on your tasks
- Share and assign lists to colleagues, friends, and family members
- Can be accessed across multiple devices and accounts
- Categorise lists by topic or project
- Add reminders
- Integrated with Office 365
Nozbe is an application that allows for more collaboration within a team, as you can view and amend everyone else’s schedule in one calendar. This will create a cohesive understanding of each individual’s role within the company, and provide the reassurance that everyone is doing their job successfully.
- Categorise tasks by project and priority
- Schedule your tasks in a calendar to easily view deadlines
- View your team’s to-do list
- Receive productivity reports to track and measure your progress
- Access the ‘10 steps to productivity’ video to learn more tips
- Use hashtags to add tasks
- Share tasks and projects amongst the team
Asana is a project management app where you can assign tasks and track everyone’s progress. There are two different types of boards you can use: List-based boards or Kanban-based boards, which print the tasks on cards that can be moved to different columns based on their status of completion.
- Add as many columns as needed to name stages of progress: To Do, Doing, Done, Written, Edited, Sent for Approval, etc.
- Add attachments to tasks on your list
- Assign tasks to different members of the team
- Mark tasks with deadlines
- Chat to colleagues in the chat box
- Organise tasks into a calendar to view differently
With Trello, you can manage your projects using cards and labelling the tasks with different statuses, such as: To-Do, Doing, Done, Edited, To Send, Sent, Published, etc. This will allow you to gain a clearer picture of how much work has been done, and what is still waiting to be completed.
- Customisable colours, arrangements, and checklists
- Add due dates to keep deadlines on track
- Label as many categories as needed to reflect different stages of completion for projects
- Move cards easily across columns or relabel them
- Calendar view
- Turn on notifications to be alerted when another colleague makes a change
- Works offline
Juggling personal life and professional life can be difficult when it feels like you have a million things to do, but time management is key! Learn how to better manage your time so you don’t get overwhelmed or miss important deadlines.
Track your work hours with Clockify, using timers and a spreadsheet to gain a better understanding of how much effort you’re investing in each project. Use this information to better guide your time on each work task.
- Start and stop timer to track work hours and breaks
- Add time spent on each project manually
- View your work hours in timesheet view to see charts and pie graphs of how much you’re spending on each task
- View what your colleagues are working on
- Generate reports on how much time was spent on each project as a whole
- Set your own hourly rates and breaks
- Add customisable fields for each time entry
Toggl is another time-tracking tool that can ensure you don’t run out of hours in the day. You can also use this app with the aid of Siri, using voice-control technology to dictate what you want to enter, rather than having to type on a keyboard.
- Summary reports tell you how much time you’re spending on each task so you can analyse your workload effectively
- Calendar view helps you to create and set reminders before events begin
- Customise your entries with projects, clients and other tags
- The app will also offer suggestions for spending your time more wisely while working
- Manually enter your timesheets
If you need the creative time to throw your ideas out and brainstorm new ones, a paper and pen might not cut it for you. For online brainstorming, you need an application that allows you to draw, doodle, and annotate all over the screen.
Skitch is an annotation app where you can sketch, paste shapes, draw lines, write annotations, and present visual pages. Used instead of a whiteboard, it’s an easy way of sharing your ideas in a visual format.
- Draw, sketch, and copy and paste shapes or images on to a clear screen to start brainstorming
- Take pictures and draw or annotate directly on the image
- Share your files with others via social media, emails, and text messages
- Annotate a PDF
XMind is a mind mapping tool that encourages users to explore their ideas using graphics and structures. You can select from pre-made maps or build your own from scratch, and explore with this new way of displaying ideas.
- Includes 16 mind map structures for you to experiment with
- Accessible across multiple accounts and desktops
- Record content and ideas in a mind map or chart
- Organise notes systematically
- Create daily plans and maps to achieve goals
- Present your information clearly to your colleagues
Working from home means you’re constantly surrounded by possible distractions, mainly in the form of other technology: your phone, the television, gaming consoles, your laptop.
Whilst the TV and Xbox need to remain off, if you find yourself struggling to focus because Instagram is pinging on your phone, here are a few ideas to remove those distractions so you can get your work done quicker and better.
If your problem is with staying off your phone during work hours, Forest might be the app for you. It aims to keep you off your phone using virtual trees. The longer you stay off your phone, the larger your virtual forest will grow. If you go on your phone before your time runs out, however, you will kill your trees.
- Set timers to keep you off your phone for a certain period of time
- Compete with friends, family, and colleagues and compare your luscious forests
- Unlock new tree species
- Unlock achievements and rewards in this game-like app
- Sponsor the planting of a real tree with the Trees for the Future organisation
If the promise of a luscious garden won’t encourage you to stay off your phone, you could make the decision to block certain websites from being accessible for a period of time. This means that even if you tried to get on your Facebook feed, your phone or laptop wouldn’t allow it.
- Block access to your phone for a few minutes or a few hours
- No limit to number of devices you can block, including phones, tablets, and computers
- Select websites to block from a pre-made list or customise with your own web links
- Won’t block important texts or calls from reaching you
- Create automatic recurring blocks for certain hours of the day
- Block the whole internet
Turn off notifications
Finally, any sort of work online has its risks. Any device, phone or tablet, can be infected by malicious malware and viruses, so it’s important that you know how to stay safe when using the internet.
Stay connected at home with mobile broadband
Sometimes when working from home, cabled broadband just doesn't cut it anymore. If you're struggling with a standard connection, you should consider upgrading to mobile broadband. Take advantage of one of our data SIM plans featuring 4G and 5G speeds. Deals start from £5 a month.
You may also be interested in some of our other blog posts:
- Best Apps for Job Searching
- Best Free Messaging Apps
- Most Popular Lockdown Apps
- How much is too much screen time?
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