“It’s not always that we need to do more but rather that we need to focus on less.”
― Nathan W. Morris
Remote Workers Best Practices
Who hasn’t wanted to get more done in less time? It seems like all throughout human history we’ve tried to make life a little easier for ourselves. Movable type printing enabled books to be mass produced. The combustion engine enabled goods (and people) to travel long distances in a relatively short amount of time. The internet allows for information to be broadcast globally in what may have taken months just 100 years ago.
As a remote worker, it makes sense that you also will look for tools to help make your work as productive as possible. These tools can be the difference between wasting hours on tedious tasks and having the task done for you automatically.
Remote workers and especially freelancers need to take advantage of all of the productivity tools that are available today. Freelancers who do not have a team to rely on can “outsource” to a virtual team of apps that will get tasks done for them.
Here are some of the best practices, top apps, and tools available to you today.
Remote Desktop Tools
When working remotely, it may be necessary to connect to a computer that is across town, or even on the other side of the world. Other times you may find yourself traveling and need to access something that’s on your computer at home, or you may need to help a client troubleshoot a problem. In either case remote desktop tools are important for remote workers.
Chrome Remote Desktop
If you are a Google Chrome user, the Chrome Remote Desktop extension is a great way to quickly access to another computer. This extension works with Windows, Mac, and Linux devices, and Android or iOS phones or tablets. I was even able to write this paragraph from my Android phone while connected to my laptop with this extension. I wouldn’t recommend writing a 1,000 word blog post this way but for minor typing (think login forms) this can do the trick!
TeamViewer is a free program for personal use, with a paid option for professional usage that allows remote access to remotely control other computers. This is the perfect tool to use for helping clients set up their email on their computer, or to help them with a problem on their website if they don’t want to share their login information. It also allows you to share your screen with others. This can be useful for demonstrations, or online meetings.
Our own built in Project and Task management integration in WP-CRM System is good to keep tabs on a main project’s progress, and to even share that progress with customers. But in the day-to-day project management, you may want to use a dedicated solution.
Trello is an online service that hosts virtual boards, and allows you to collaborate with team members on your project. You can automate tasks by connecting to third party apps and contact forms like Gravity Forms. This is an easy way to have tasks added to your board whenever you receive customer feedback for bugs, feature requests, or other tasks.
Kanban for WordPress
Kanban for WordPress is the perfect tool to track sales, use as a project management tool, or even as an editorial calendar. Visual boards mean fewer distractions, and helps you keep track of what you need to work on next. Useful graphs and charts show you the status of all your open projects at a glance. Plus, like WP-CRM System, you own your data. All of your project and task data stays on your WordPress site so you aren’t risking sensitive data getting out on someone else’s server.
How many times have you gotten stuck on something and decided to open up Facebook or Twitter? That never helps solve the original problem, and actually makes things worse because you’ve lost however long you spent scrolling through cute cat GIFs and you still haven’t finished what you’re working on. These distraction busting apps can really help force you to stay focused.
Productivity Owl is a Chrome extension that forces you to be productive by closing tabs you’ve been on for too long. It has a schedule tool to identify your free time so it won’t bother you then. You can also specifically block or allow certain websites. For example, if you’re managing Facebook ads for your clients, it won’t bother you when on Facebook. If you’re on a page that really is interesting, but not productive, you can use the built in save for later feature.
Cold Turkey works with Windows, Mac & Android devices to block websites and applications. You can create several different block lists for different occasions. For example, block social media sites during work hours, and block your work’s help desk site during free time to ensure you have quality time with your family.
This isn’t necessarily a productivity tip. But it can save you tons of time and headache should something happen to your computer.
I’ve been a huge fan of Dropbox for storing all of my files. I know that all my files are safe on the Dropbox servers if anything ever happens to my computer (it gets lost, stolen, or irreparably damaged). You get a Dropbox folder that you save files to the same way you would if you were saving files locally. The only difference is that whatever you save in the Dropbox folder will also be synced to your Dropbox account. If anything happened to my computer, I can install Dropbox on a new computer, and all my files would be right where I left them. Plus, with a couple clicks I can get a link that lets me share a file with anyone.
Similar to Dropbox, Google Drive provides secure storage for all of your files, which can be accessed from any device with an internet connection. Unlike Dropbox, the files you save in Google Drive are saved in the Cloud so you won’t be able to access them without an internet connection without specifically making individual files available offline.
Remote workers usually end up doing a lot of repetitive tasks. Many of these tasks can be automated to some degree to free up hours for more important tasks.
One of my favorite tools for connecting hundreds of web apps together is Zapier. If you’re not familiar with Zapier, it basically connects one application to another in order to preform a specific task. For example, if you get an email from an important client you may want to know about it right away. Zapier can send a push notification to your phone using the Pushover app any time you get an email from a specific address.
What about a workflow to automate new client onboarding? Whenever a customer makes a purchase from your WooCommerce site, you can have their information sent to other apps. Add them to your MailChimp mailing list, or even create a new ticket in your help desk software. The sale information can be added to QuickBooks to eliminate manual bookkeeping tasks. Zapier automates all of this for you.
WP-CRM System also integrates with Zapier. So any time you create or update a record in WP-CRM System, it can trigger a workflow to start.
If you create a new project in WP-CRM System, you can automatically have it added to your team’s Google Calendar.
Or, if you have new customers added to Quickbooks, you can have them automatically added to WP-CRM System.
Want to keep track of your time in Toggl? You can set up a workflow that updates the time spent on a project with the time recorded in Toggl.
You can also use native WordPress plugins to automate otherwise tedious tasks. A new contact can be created any time a form in Gravity Forms is submitted. Or, you can give your customers a way to submit project requests using Gravity Forms. Add an automation with Zapier to get notified in your favorite app like Slack, Pushover, SMS text message, or email.
The possibilities are endless!