13 essential apps for working from home

This article was first published on 23 October 2015 and last updated on 18 November 2016

Can an app really make you more productive when you work from home? Our guest author James Clifton, social media manager at GetApp, certainly thinks so. Here is his advice on choosing the right apps to make your working life easier to manage.

The trouble with working from home

Sadly, working from home isn’t always as simple as it’s cracked up to be. You’ve got to be super organised, have the right tools and arm yourself with patience against an onslaught of distractions. But don’t worry, there are loads of work from home apps out there that can help take some of the strain. Let’s take a look at a few of the best.

Collaboration

A clever selection of collaboration apps can enable you to work as effectively as if you were sitting right next to your clients in their office. Sketchboard, for example, lets you brainstorm, mind-map and plan with others in real time on a shareable digital canvas. Project management with Wedoist enables you to track where others are on a project and message them in real time, while Screenhero allows you to work with a group on a shared screen and voice chat as if you were all in the same room.

A word of warning: video collaboration apps, such as the browser-based Room, will use your webcam, so unless you are proud of your choice of PJs you might want to get dressed to avoid showing them off to your colleagues!

Time tracking and management

As a freelancer, you’ll know the importance of tracking your time accurately and there are a number of apps that can help you do this better. Toggl is a popular time tracking app that you can switch between projects giving you a useful overview of the work that’s taking up most of your time. RescueTime is another with a slightly different approach: tracking the time you spend on various websites and helping you cut down on your bad browsing habits.

Managing your time well is just as important as tracking it. Choosing your own hours can make it tough to strike a healthy life-work balance and your productivity could suffer as a result. The Pomodoro Technique (25 minutes work followed by a five-minute break) is a favoured time management method among many freelancers and there are a few apps, like focus booster and ClearFocus, that can help you introduce it to your own routine.

Staying focused

Distractions are everywhere when you work from home: television, cleaning dirty windows, gardening, endless cups of tea and the biggest distraction of all: the internet.

Since you’re working at home, you can’t exactly turn off your internet connection and hope to get anything done, but there are some apps that can come to the rescue. SelfControl allows you to block desktop access to distracting websites - say goodbye to Facebook, Mashable, BuzzFeed and Upworthy! And if you're an Android user and want to spend less time on your phone during the day, you could give Cold Turkey a try.

Staying sane

Worried that you’ll feel lonely working from home? Thankfully, there are a few apps that can help with that too.

If you long for the gentle hum of people talking and enjoying a coffee, there’s Coffitivity. Need a bit of background noise to stay focused? Check out the range of exciting sounds on Noisli. Believe me: nothing can beat the sound of travelling on a train in a thunderstorm to keep you in the zone!

Finally, if you're interested in giving co-working a try then check out Desktime, an app that links you with fellow freelancers and enables you to find and book co-working space in your city.

Good luck!

Keeping the above tips in mind, and downloading some of the suggested work from home apps, you shouldn’t have too much of a problem staying focused, juggling your workload and becoming a well-rounded work from home hero.

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