By now, recent events will have meant you’re probably either working from home or at least preparing for that possibility. Now more than ever people are trying to fine-tune their workspaces, keep their productivity up to standard and save their sanity from the stresses of isolation.
Luckily, there’s an abundance of cheap and free tools out there that can help you through these uncertain times. Here are five of our favourites.
Teams is a huge favourite for collaborating with colleagues, and shouldn’t come as much surprise to you. It’s gone through a monumental rise in popularity as the coronavirus situation has forced businesses to work remotely.
With a comprehensive list of features including video calling, chat and file management, it’s well worth taking a look at, and you may well already have access to it through your current Microsoft subscription. Alternatively, Teams’ main competitor Slack is free for small teams, and you may well prefer their user interface.
A virtual whiteboard
If you’re part of a team that likes to visualise and explain ideas on a whiteboard throughout the day, you may be missing this rather basic bit of kit right now. Luckily, there are free digital versions allow you to share a virtual space with your colleagues to write notes, draw diagrams and anything else that you previously relied on your trusty whiteboard for.
One thing that many people struggle with when working from home is sticking to their normal work hours. It can be easy when you can stay in your pyjamas all day to lose motivation, and similarly, you can find yourself lost in a burst of productivity or flurry of emails working well into the evening.
The Pomodoro method (of which there are many free desktop and mobile apps) is based on the idea of focussed working for a set period of time (usually 25 minutes), followed by a five-minute break. This can keep you on top of your schedule, making sure you stay on track and, just as importantly, don’t overwork yourself. Favourites include Bear Focus Timer and Forest, which have quickly risen to the No. 1 spots on the Utilities and Productivity leaderboards respectively in Apple’s App Store.
The gentle background chatter of your colleagues, the occasional big-bellied laughter from a well-timed joke on the other side of the room, the never-ending stream of people getting up to refill their mugs. You might not realise it, but you may well miss the sounds of an active office (or, you could well be relishing the peace and quiet!).
With several ambient background sounds to choose from, Coffitivity might be what you need to fill the new quietness in your day-to-day life. It provides you with several options of cafe and workplace sounds that have been scientifically shown to increase creativity, so if you think your home office is missing something, this could well be it.
These are stressful times for many and, whilst not strictly a working tool, spending ten minutes listening to a guided meditation with the Headspace app gives you some essential me-time and does wonders for your mental health.
Whether you use it first thing in the morning or as a break in between projects, practising this quick bit of self-care can help in a myriad of ways, from increasing your focus to making sure you don’t get too caught up in your work. You can try Headspace for free, or check out several other free and similar meditation apps on your mobile app store.
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