Over-communicating is the key to working remotely in order to be productive but over-working is not. Sadly, the lines between office space and personal space get blurred and remote workers find it difficult to strike a balance between the two.
This, in turn, has a negative impact on both their professional and personal life, which ranges from being unable to focus on struggling to sleep. Further, the lack of physical presence of managers clubbed with the comforts of working remotely requires remote workers to make conscious efforts to ensure the same levels of productivity as their on-site counterparts.
For people who are employed by global companies, working from different time zones can be challenging. It is possible that your peers are free and hanging out while you are busy working till 11/12 in the night or beyond.
Since remote work with its immense benefits is here to stay and World 2.0 belongs to Remote, we need to get acquainted with tools and tips that can help us develop healthy remote working habits and make the most of our day.
A number of issues related to productivity can be handled to a great extent by tools that help us manage our time better and in keeping things organized.
Here, I’ll focus on some of the handiest productivity tools that my team and I’ve been using over the past few years.
1. Roam Research
Note-taking is absolutely necessary for your own productivity. When you’re in the office, there’s some sense of social accountability but when you go remote, you have to be a pro at self-accountability. Having a to-do list goes a long way in helping you with that.
Roam Research is my favorite productivity tool that is designed as a note-taking application for networked thought, pretty much how thoughts are linked in our brains. The feature to connect various notes by defining a relation between them makes managing things a lot easier and the experience is seamless.
Clickup is an advanced project management tool that has become my go-to place for everything. It eliminates the need of using separate apps by placing everything at one place so that you have a bird’s eye view of what’s happening and where.
You can add Gantt charts, Kanban boards, spreadsheets, and keep all your conversations and reminders together. Even though most project management tools are better suited for teams, ClickUp is a great tool for individuals too as it is much easier to use and comes loaded with all sorts of features.
Taskade is another tool that is mainly used as a to-do list but it offers so much more. Taking a spot in your browser, it allows your team to do pretty much everything. You can manage and collaborate on task lists, do quick video calls, and even do product management.
If you’re getting started as an organization, this might be a quick starting point. It’s kind of a super app for productivity which sometimes can be too much if you’re not organized.
Monday is one of my current favorite project management tools. It is fairly advanced as compared to other tools in the market and is well suited for large teams working on complex projects.
Even on an individual level, it helps you in tracking your tasks and workflow using the multiple views feature including the Kanban dashboard.
Mindmeister is a tool to create mind maps and collaborate with teams efficiently over that. It’s useful when you’re trying to create a strategy or want to brainstorm.
We’ve found it helpful in structuring thoughts and share them clearly with the team. You can also use Mindmeister to brainstorm over ideas and create Kanban boards to track your team’s productivity.
When it comes to making our life easier and saving time, Zapier takes the top spot. Zapier allows you to automate workflows across different tools without writing a single line of code! It’s a habit that we all should have.
Ask yourself: What are the tasks around moving data that you do everyday and are often repetitive?
Browse through the thousands of existing automations already available on Zapier to handle these repetitive tasks between different apps. It also gives you the option to create your automation, helping you focus on better things and get work done much faster. Lear more about it here.
For example at Pesto, everyone who registers on our website as a student, we send the data to Airtable (CRM) and create a slack notification on a #new-candidate channel for our team to track.
Finding files (and their multiple versions!) that keep getting shared between remote teams and that too on multiple platforms can be irksome. But with fy i, you can find any documents in 3 clicks or less!
It allows you to access the documents you need in a new tab and offers integration with G Suite, Slack, Dropbox, Box, Microsoft OneDrive, and others.
I actually feel restless when fyi is not my default new tab on chrome.
8. Rescue Time
Rescue time is my go-to place when I feel that I need to be more disciplined or need to be at my best during Code Red.
It’s a great tool to monitor where you invest your time and plan your week ahead. It runs in the background to track where you spend your time, it rates your productivity based on how much time you’re spending on productive tasks versus unproductive ones in a day and organizes them into simple charts.
I read Deep Work which talks about working in sprints of high productivity zones with no distraction, Rescue time helps you achieve that. When you’re getting started, you’ll face this problem in a big way. I would recommend you to get a paid subscription for this tool especially in the initial days. Apart from deep work, it has calendar integrations that’ll help you plan your week efficiently.
If you are an employer, Toggl is one of the best tools out there to ensure your employee’s work-life balance and also finding out which of your team members can get work done under pressure. It’s a simple time tracking tool that also acts as a productivity booster.
Available on web and desktop, Toggl also lets you set reminders for specific times or days to start tracking and has a timeline feature that records each website or program that you have viewed for more than 10 seconds, and shows the data in a vertical side-by-side overview with your current time entries.
10. Figure it Out
For people who are employed by global companies (as is the case with many people working remotely), working from different time zones can be quite challenging. It is possible that your peers are free and hanging out while you are busy working till 11/12 in the night.
Figure it out is a simple dashboard and chrome extension that allows you to set up all time zones you and your colleagues work from and translate it in the current time zone which you’re in.
It allows me to set up any cross-time zone meetings in a way that it suits everyone. You can also create an event and export it in any format suitable.
Superhuman is the new mail. If you’re someone who has to answer 40–60 emails a day or more, I would highly recommend you to go for Superhuman. It helps you answer emails at lightning speed and ‘You’ve hit Inbox Zero’ feels like a great achievement.
Superhuman is the only reason because of which even today I try to answer many support emails of Pesto to be closer to our customers. This helps me in getting a much better perspective about the market and our offering.
It’s highly recommended for entrepreneurs or senior managers who’re looking to optimize their time without getting an EA.
Hey is here to completely transform your email experience. It offers an interesting approach to how you receive and view emails and lets you sort your emails into the ones you need to respond to and the ones you just need to read. It also has an inbuilt file viewer to keep track of all your files and gives you the option to ‘Reply Later’ to mails.
The experience itself is quite revolutionary and is by far the most interesting thing to happen to my inbox or let’s say ‘Imbox’ (important box?).
Mixmax is a Gmail-based email automation tool that helps in tracking the performance of bulk emails that are sent.
It’s best suited for small businesses and entrepreneurs since it allows them to convert prospects into customers with personalized emails and one to one communication. I use it to schedule quick meetings and send sequences.
When you or someone on your team is working remotely, they might be working from a cafe, a coworking space, etc. Sometimes, background noises from these places disturb others when you are on a conference call with your team and it becomes annoying to an extent.
Well, you can always play the mute game but thanks to Krisp, all you need is a toggle and it will remove the background noise from your or your friend’s microphone. Krisp works with a lot of communications apps including Zoom, Slack, and Skype, and makes remote meetings quite productive.
Noisli is an elegant and minimal tool that provides background noise to help you focus better on whether you are working or studying.
It offers a lot of options to mix and match high-quality sounds, for example, you can mix rain + forest and work to that serene sound as you sip a cup of coffee.
It works on a simple theory that background noises mask the negative impact of sudden spikes in external noise and thus enable you to focus for longer periods of time.
Moreover, these sounds are often calming which helps in relaxation and creating a personal virtual environment for you to work.
Distractions on the internet are many, especially those interesting articles, videos, or quizzes that you see on social media that turn out to be quite engaging and disrupt the workflow. How about you save them for later?
Pocket does that exactly. While it is a simple bookmarking tool, it will have a positive impact on your workflow. Whenever you find something interesting while working, save it for later (you can also categorize) and then define a time slot in your day to go through whatever you’ve saved.
Makes you productive at work, gives you a slot to take your mind off work — it’s a win-win!
Loom is the fastest way for you to create screen recordings along with your video explaining any topic. This is a great way to tackle that yearning for human connections and team culture that remote workers develop.
Loom adds the right amount of human aspect to any process. We use loom for anything and everything. It’s quite fast and once the recording is done, it gets uploaded on the cloud and its link copied to your clipboard. Again, this is collaboration at lightning speed.
Loom also maintains the history of all your repo which you can edit. I would highly recommend getting the chrome extension which I believe is the fastest way to loom.
Missing your office buddies and all the hanging out together? With Gather, you can create a virtual space for all of your friends and colleagues to come together and host a party, or you can all sit by a campfire and watch your favorite movies together.
It replicates the real-world experience of people hanging out with each other, you can create a virtual office or your university campus and go about your regular business. It’s a great tool to counter the loneliness and isolation that remote workers feel.
Monosnap is a wonderful tool to help you communicate with images. It helps you doodle with images and add context to screenshots and share them instantly.
I would recommend you go ahead and get a paid subscription which will allow you to upload the image to the cloud and share it with others instantly.
Bubbles is a very useful tool for asynchronous collaboration that allows you to give detailed feedback on screenshots. In short, it makes contextual collaboration simpler.
You can comment directly on any digital asset, web page, or app and put an end to the feedback loop over mails and unnecessary meetings, making the reviewing process super fast.
I still regret that I took so long to adopt this tool. It costs $1 but adds so much value to your organization. Managing passwords is not easy, especially when you need to keep complex passwords for security and share it with many people in the org.
1Password allows you to share these passwords seamlessly via different vaults for each team. It’s quick, easy, and highly secure. Its chrome extension is pretty decent and I would highly recommend this, it was a life savior for me and my team.
I hope these productivity tools will help you manage your time better and maintain the work-life balance when working remotely. Let me know some of your favorite tools in the comments.
I’m at @aayushjaiswal07 on Twitter, do let me know if you found value in this.