As thousands of people get settled into working at home, I understand how unstable it can all feel. Most of us white collar workers are used to having support people around to help us out of a jam or provide the myriad of tools we use to make our working lives easier. So, in this post, I'm going to share with you some of the tools I've found that make my life easier working at home. By the way, I get zero if you click on any of these, just my recommendations. Here goes:
One of the pieces of critical office equipment we all need is a printer. Really? Sure about that? One of the first things I did when I moved into my home office was go buy a printer. A pretty slooooowwww printer, but it was all-in-one and it has a scanner (more on that later), then I found that because it was so annoying and besides, why did I need all this paper around, I just didn't want to print anything anymore. That's where Evernote comes in. Evernote is a note taking, document saving, email tracking system that I love and continue to use to this day. I started off with the free version, which worked great at first, but due to all my travel, I really wanted portability and extra storage space, so I upgraded to the premium version. Worth every penny and has saved me from having to figure out how to manage all the project related notes, documents, reminders, etc., that I juggle everyday.
Evernote also has the ability to create to do lists, set reminders for tasks, and share notes via email with others. If you have the premium version, it also comes with lots of templates to use too. It saves to the cloud, so no storage or back-up anxiety. I can tag notes to make them easier to find. I can establish as many notebooks and as many notes as I'd like and I can send things to Evernote via email or through browser extensions. This is a great tool and I highly recommend it.
Yup, that's right. It's called free conference call because it is a free conference call line. You just sign up and are given a call in number with a PIN as well as the ability to host online events with or without video. It sounds pretty janky, but works great. The issue I ran into was that the free version greeting was "welcome to free conference call .com" and that doesn't exactly sound professional, so I upgraded for a measly $5.95 per month which allowed me to customize my greeting and get a new call in number that didn't require users to enter any password or PIN, it automatically connects. It sends a text to my mobile phone with the numbers that have dialed in. Also my mobile phone is recognized as the host phone, so that auto-starts the conference when I dial in.
For folks that need something to connect colleagues or even family and friends, this is a great service and the free version should be fine for that purpose. All others that don't need all the fancy tools with Zoom or other apps, upgrade to the custom version and have fun. Very simple to use.
Working from home is distracting. And now that the kids are here too (or in my case, my grandkids), it's even worse. I've been using white noise to work for quite a few years and recently settled on White Noise App on my computer and Relaxio on my mobile phone. This is a really personal choice, since some people work fine with regular noise in the background or music of some kinds, but I prefer that oh, so comforting buzzzzzzz. You can use these with or without headphones and both have good free versions.
Back to my super-slow printer, one of my favorite tips is to "print to pdf", which is an option when you're printing a document. What this does is take your document and create a pdf, then asks you to save it somewhere. Love this feature and use it a lot, which has really cut down on my printing. Second, is scanning. One thing you do definitely need when you're working at home is a scanner. Whether its receipts, signed documents you need to send somewhere, or just for the sake of storage, being able to scan is a must. Even my little printer has a scanner that works just fine, so no need to spend a bundle. Just make sure you set it up now so you don't have to mess with it when you really need it.
The link above will take you to instructions on how to setup a scanner with Windows 10 and I'm sure Apple users can find something similar online.
iDrive is an automated back up system I use to back up my most important files and information. iDrive works in the background on a schedule that I set, which is multiple times during the day, and once it does the first back up, it auto-detects changes and so on all day. I also have a second back up system for all my financial stuff and use cloud systems for my business accounting, so I can't emphasize enough how important it is to have a back up plan for your stuff my friends. If you're working on a corporate drive, this isn't an issue for you, but a lot of us are not or are doing things on our laptop hard drive and on other sites. There is no free version of iDrive, so if you are looking for something free, Google and Amazon Prime for example, both offer some free storage, as does Apple. Regardless, figure it out and set something up, you will not regret it.
These are my top tools for working at home and if you have a favorite, join the conversation and comment below. In the meantime, take care and be well.