If you haven’t yet explored apps to help solve some of your WFH challenges, give it a shot.
An unprecedented number of people had to figure out how to work from home (WFH) in 2020. Employers soon discovered they didn’t need warm bodies nearby to get business done. A lot of their employees may never return to a cubicle.
The rapid, unexpected adjustment caught many by surprise, though. It took some time to learn how to tackle tasks while sheltering in place instead of jumping in the car for the morning commute. Meanwhile, several app developers seized the opportunity to help those stuck at home.
If you haven’t yet explored apps to help solve some of your WFH challenges, give it a shot. Here are seven apps worth looking at as you seek to make remote work easier in 2021 and beyond.
1. Plume HomePass
Did you know that your home Wi-Fi network could be reconfigured to “intuitive?” With a solution such as HomePass, it could be.
HomePass, a suite of Smart Home Services from Plume, features Adapt, a Wi-Fi solution that learns from and adjusts to your Wi-Fi usage. Adaptive Wi-Fi makes a seamless internet connection possible even when you’re on a Zoom call and your kids are streaming in the other room.
HomePass services are delivered via SuperPods that either work with or replace your existing router. Adapt uses AI to map internet usage patterns and then deliver the fastest speed when and where it’s needed. The app also allows you to check internet speed to make sure the network is performing as promised.
HomePass provides one free SuperPod with an annual membership. Plug it in and use the smartphone app to control your IoT devices and protect them from hackers. The app gives you a birds-eye view of your home network, plus it offers guest and parental controls to regulate internet usage. HomePass takes Wi-Fi to the next level by delivering a full smart home experience.
Nothing ravages WFH productivity quite like experiencing a medical issue, especially when social distancing causes a pile-up at the doctor’s office or pharmacy. That’s where telehealth can help. Using the Nurx app for online birth control or migraine treatment provides access to routine medications without breaking up your day.
While you’re working on a client presentation, you could easily forget to re-up your migraine or birth control prescription. But the Nurx app won’t forget. The app will deliver birth control, migraine meds, herpes treatment, and more to your door, safely and privately.
The app is free and can also put you in touch with healthcare professionals anytime, anywhere. You can get answers to routine questions and needed prescriptions from the comfort of your couch. With everything the ongoing pandemic has added to your to-do list, leave prescription renewals to a telehealth app like Nurx.
Speaking of that to-do list, productivity apps like TickTick can help you create and manage yours.
Organize your tasks by tags, lists, and due dates. Add subtasks. Go nuts. Integration with a third-party calendar lets you see your schedule and your tasks compiled into a single view. The built-in Pomodoro timer boosts productivity by clocking work in 25-minute bursts.
The TickTick app works across multiple platforms and adjusts to the unique features of each one. You can also download and install add-ons and extensions to convert emails and web pages to tasks.
The basic TickTick app is free, but you can access more features for less than $30 annually. TickTick Premium offers customized smart lists and tracks the actions of others on shared projects. The historical statistics feature lets you chart your progress over time and score success. Maybe it’s time to put down the sticky notes and put a digital to-do list at your fingertips instead.
Working from home tends to involve a lot of distractions. While you’re brainstorming ideas for a pitch, you might decide to wash the dishes that someone left on the counter. Or maybe you decide that it’s a great time to check your Facebook feed.
RescueTime to the rescue! Install this monitoring app on your computer, and it will hum away in the background. Your computer usage runs through RescueTime’s servers and lands on a web-based dashboard. The app then uses rules to categorize your habits. For example, Facebook is rated “very distracting,” while Zoom is “very productive.” At the end of each day, you can look back and see how on task you were.
RescueTime includes a website blocker, FocusTime, which automatically blocks distracting websites based on your instructions. You can even type #focustime on Google calendar, Outlook, or Office 365 events to initiate blocking automatically.
It’s tough to avoid distractions when there aren’t any co-workers around to see what you’re up to. An app like RescueTime provides personal accountability and just might help rescue you from your own worst habits.
5-6. EmailOnDeck and Inbox When Ready
Email is a double-edged sword. It’s likely that you can’t work from home — or anywhere — without it. But every time you open your inbox, you hear a giant time-sucking noise.
Fight back. Unsubscribe from newsletters you no longer want to receive. Block spammers. Use an app like EmailOnDeck to obtain a temporary email address for websites that require an email address for access.
To truly limit the ongoing distraction, try Inbox When Ready, a Chrome browser extension also available on Firefox and Edge. Inbox When Ready hides your inbox while allowing you to write and send messages. Schedule lockout times when you want to avoid distractions and budget how much time you want to spend in your inbox. The app will tell you how much time you’re actually spending there every day.
Avoid the temptation of clicking on breaking news alerts and random notifications. Find and install email apps that help you stay focused on your work.
You won’t work from home very productively if you don’t get decent rest when you’re not on the clock. The Zen app can help.
Like other mindfulness apps, Zen provides content to help you get going in the morning and wind down at night. It includes guided meditations, mantras, prayers, and breathing exercises. Zen also offers healthy eating programs and bedtime stories designed to help you sleep like a four-year-old again.
Replace sleep-depriving screen time with auto sensory meridian response (ASMR) and nature sounds to relax at night. You can even set and monitor goals to develop healthy habits, including better sleep. Available in English, Spanish and Portuguese, Zen costs $7.99 a month. The investment might be worth bringing a little calm, peace, and balance into your WFH life.
The Home Office App Wrap
There are hundreds of apps that can help improve work life and keep your personal life balanced. Now that you’re working from home, the line between the two has become fairly well smudged. Figure out which personal challenges and productivity issues are affecting your work. Then research apps that might help you address them. No matter what the problem is, there’s likely an app for it by now.