The benefits of working from home are well documented. Most workers, if asked, would cite working remotely as an important advantage and, with the advent of high-bandwidth internet connections and collaboration tools such as Trello and GoToMeeting, there’s every reason to expect the telecommuting trend to continue. However, homeworking isn’t without its challenges. A key concern amongst both employers and employees is lost productivity due to distractions within the home - for example, personal and work tasks can become blurred. In a study by Regus, over half of the respondents said that children and family wanting attention was their biggest distraction. Such concerns can be mitigated by the use of good time management tools, some of which are described below.
The Moosti app is a nod to the “Pomodoro” technique, a method for improving time management that was developed in the late 1980s by Francesco Cirillo. The technique uses a timer to break down work into time chunks of around 25 minutes, separated by short breaks which, it is claimed, improve mental agility. The intervals are called ‘pomodori’. Although Moosti isn’t endorsed by the Pomodoro technique, this very simple time tracker is clearly inspired by it. To use Mootsi (my tool of choice – because it really is so simple to use), simply mark the time period you wish to work for (within 25 minute), and set your short break and long break times.
Cost: free; however donations are welcome.
As with Moosti, FocusTime is also inspired by the Pomodoro technique described above. The app is easy to use, has an elegant interface and does what it’s supposed to do: it helps you manage your time so you get more done. Once again, you are encouraged to work in 25-minute blocks followed by breaks. Focus Time is hugely popular as a means of maintaining productivity throughout the day, and has more features than Moosti, for example the app will chart your progress in the form of a table or graph.
Cost: $4.99. Focus Time is a Universal app and is designed to work on all iOS device sizes. Also available on Mac computers from the Mac app store.
#3 Rescue Time
Unlike FocusTime and Moosti, RescueTime doesn’t just keep track of the length of time you’ve spent working - it will also monitor the time you’ve spent on websites and apps. How much time have you spent reading emails? Facebook? RescueTime will let you know. You’ll learn much more about how you spend your day thanks to RescueTime, so you can be more productive with your day. The app has a suite of impressive features too - for example you can block websites that are proving to be too distracting; set alerts to let you know when you’ve spent a certain amount of time on an activity; get highlights about what you accomplished during the day; set goals; exit or pause the timer yourself and much more besides.
Cost: free, with a premium version available. For Mac, PC, Android and Linux.
If the lure of Facebook is too much for you, then SelfControl will be your saviour. Simply type in the list of websites and apps (in fact, anything on the internet) that are taking up too much of your time and block them for an appropriate length of time. The best part? There’s no going back: once you’ve disabled those sites, you can’t enable them again until after your time has expired – even if you restart your computer or delete the application. So you have to work.
Cost: free. For Mac OS X (10.5 or above).
Track almost every aspect of your life with aTimeLogger. This app is easy to use and has an intuitive interface. To use it, simply open the app and tap on the activity icon you want to track, e.g. eating, sport, working etc. You can review your activities day by day, set goals for what you want to achieve time-wise, create reports and export them into CSV or HTML format. If you want to keep track of every aspect of your life, look no further.
Cost: $2.99 from the App Store (for iPhone and iPad); free from Google play (for Android 4.0 and up).
Successful telecommuters are masters of time management. They have systems in place to ensure they remain focused on their work. These tools (plus your commitment to use them) will help you develop the focus and mindset to improve your productivity when working remotely.