Working from Home: Tools of the Trade

Some days, working from home is as simple as pulling a chair up to any flat surface with my laptop and cranking out as much as possible over an eight-ish hour stretch. But usually it’s a bit more complicated than that, keeping my attention and productivity going as I encounter a variety of work challenges. Here are some necessary tools in my arsenal:

  • Ikea: Not the site itself, but the furniture – Ikea was indispensable in furnishing my workspace quickly and cheaply when I first moved to NYC and needed to be up and running with my work from home life very quickly. (I didn’t take ANY full days off when I moved! Crazy right?) I have a Micke workstation but at some point would like to upgrade.
  • Yelp: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve typed in “coffee wifi” and searched by current location. I almost always use Yelp to find coffee shops and such to work from, because fellow telecommuters and freelancers often leave reviews noting a space’s seating, wifi, and outlet situation.
  • Pandora: I have a radio station to fit nearly every mood, essential for drowning out the bad hipster music at the aforementioned coffee-and-wifi spots.
  • Style guide: Okay, this is a bit of a cheat because I generally use my company-specific style guide, but I like to have a few different reference materials at my fingertips.
  • Toggl: Timekeeping! As I wrote in my last entry, I take advantage of the flexibility that working from home allows me, and I’ll break up my day sometimes with errands and other stuff. Having a timer going allows me to be realistic about the amount of time I spend actually working, without having to think much about it (as long as I remember to stop and re-start the timer).
  • Bullet journaling: With all the time I spend looking at screens, I try to do some things the old fashioned way. I haven’t totally made bullet journaling work for me, but I’m trying. I use it mostly for my personal life, but I have my notebook next to me while I’m working.
  • Quora: When I need a break I’ll often head to Quora to get my brain on something else but still learn something. (Other times, it’s Buzzfeed or playing some game on my phone, but let’s stick with Quora!)
  • Instapaper: When I’m taking a break and find a longform piece that I don’t have time to read and want to save for later, I send it to Instapaper on my phone. I like to have a nice queue built up for reading on the subway, and it helps keep me less distracted during the workday because if I see something interesting I know it’ll be waiting for me when I have free time.
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