Welcome to WAHM life! Getting organized and setting up a schedule will take time—and lots of experimentation. So if you’re still settling in to your new work-from-home routine, don’t be too hard on yourself. To help you out, here’s a list of tools and apps that other work-at-home moms (including our own team) use for productivity, time-tracking, project management and more.
For limiting distractions
If you find yourself slipping over to Facebook or Scary Mommy when you should be working, download an app or a browser extension that limits your non-work internet time.
Chrome users, try StayFocusd. I love that 1) it’s free, and 2) you can customize your settings, such as how long you’re allowed to spend on which sites and when. (For example, you can allow yourself one cumulative hour on your five most distracting sites during work hours Monday–Friday.) Honestly, it’s a great tool to turn on 24/7.
Your phone might be the real culprit, though.
Apps like Forest can keep you from picking up your phone and getting sucked down the rabbit hole of social media. With Forest, you plant a virtual tree when it’s time to focus; if you stay off your phone, your tree grows, and you earn coins. If you succumb to temptation, your tree dies. It’s a strangely effective motivator.
And you may have a favorite Spotify playlist that keeps you focused, but if you’re looking for some soothing background noise to drown out the sounds of your kiddos and partner working in the next room, try Noisli.
The 28 available sounds range from rain to coffee shop chatter. The free version gives you an hour and a half of streaming each day; for $10 a month, you can get unlimited streaming of sounds and playlists.
For collaborating with your team
Fort Worth mom and blogger Katey McFarlan says she “lives off of Google Drive” because she and her assistant can access their editorial calendar at any time from anywhere. For McFarlan, it’s the next best thing to old-school pad and paper.
Documents, spreadsheets and PDFs can be uploaded and shared with your team members (or anyone with a link), and you can control who has viewing and editing access.
Our own team uses the project management platform Monday to keep track of who’s doing what and the progress of every project. You can upload files and set up custom notifications so that certain team members get pinged when the status of a project changes.
Trello is a similar workflow platform that organizes your to-do lists and deadlines; that’s what McFarlan relies on to stay on top of projects with her assistant.
For managing your time
You may have heard of the Pomodoro technique; but if you haven’t, it’s a time management system that consists of productive sessions, breaks and longer breaks (and there’s a tomato, for some reason).
All you need for this is a timer—and it doesn’t have to be shaped like a tomato.
The colorful Miracle TimeCube is what McFarlan uses to break up her time and minimize interruptions. While she works, McFarlan will set the timer for 15 or 30 minutes and assign her daughter one activity to do. “She knows when the timer goes off, we can go get a snack, she can request to do something different,” McFarlan says. “It’s taught her patience and me flexibility.”
The cube with its large numbers is also a physical reminder for her daughter. But you can try a desktop version, like TomatoTimer, which is free and has an easy-to-use interface.
For tracking your hours
Freelancers love the time-keeping apps HoursTracker and Toggl. You can use them to log your own work hours, make sure your team stays on task, or just keep track of how much time you’re spending on various things—including distractions like social media or chores. (Trust me—a “quick break” may last longer than you think!)
Do you have any tools or apps that help you stay on track while working from home? Tell us about them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image courtesy of iStock.