What tools do you use to stay productive?

Question: What tools do you use to stay productive? Read answers from remote workers to learn.

Interview with Nathan and Connor, owners of Freeeup

Skype, Viber, and Zoom for live chats, phone calls, and video meetings. Trello, Jira, and Notes for project management. Calendly and Google Calendar for scheduling appointments and meetings.

We’ve been working together for 8+ years, so we’ve really figured out the best ways to keep communication strong between ourselves and our entire team even though we’re all located around the world. For us, communication is everything.

Thinking of creating your own remote startup? See how Nathan and Connor built a successful and effective remote team from scratch.

Read full interview from Interview with Nathan and Connor, owners of Freeeup.


Interview with Ascencia, a content marketer, and avid gig economy professional

For note-taking, I use Evernote. I take notes there when I read books, take an online course, or just brainstorm for work.

To be honest, the most motivating tool for me is the Upwork time tracker. I work on an hourly basis, so it’s important to track time and keep the tracker on the whole time I’m working. It would capture my screen every 10 minutes.

Out of various project management tools I’ve tried, I like Asana the most.

A forgotten two-year-old Upwork account allowed Ascencia to become a content marketer—see how the gig economy has offered her an alternative path to success.

Read full interview from Interview with Ascencia, a content marketer, and avid gig economy professional.


Interview with Erin, a virtual assistant with a successful approach to freelancing

There are over 20 tools that I use almost daily to keep my clients happy (and myself sane). People usually fall off of their chair when I mention how many tools it takes to keep a business running smoothly!

A handful that come to mind are must-haves:

  • Harvest for tracking time and sending automated invoices
  • Google Voice to ensure my clients can reach me even when I'm overseas
  • Buckets (Trello competitor) for task management
  • Hootsuite to help manage my Twitter and LinkedIn accounts
  • LinkedIn for client prospecting and networking building with other VA's
  • Google Docs for online course planning
  • Udemy to list / sell my online courses
  • Spotify for a constant stream of jams

Last but not least, my Macbook Air and iPhone. Apple fangirl aside, both machines are great for travel because they're durable, light, and are easy to shoot and edit high-quality videos.

Erin has found freelancing success as a virtual assistant—see her organizational tips & insights into how she picks clients that suit her business.

Read full interview from Interview with Erin, a virtual assistant with a successful approach to freelancing.


Interview with Chanell, a freelance writer and social media manager

I am a huge fan of Google Drive.

I use Google Docs to share content with editors I work with, so they can quickly make edits or add notes for things I need to tweak. I also use the spreadsheets for content calendars and contact information.

In the past, I have used Harvest to track time, generate PDF invoices, and send these invoices directly from the app.

Asana and Airtable are other apps I have experience with in relation to project management and contact information storage.

If I need to create an infographic or regular graphic I will use Canva, which is an impressive free and easy-to-use online graphic design app.

Chanell is a freelance writer working from Atlanta that writes about business management tips and video game entertainment threads.

Read full interview from Interview with Chanell, a freelance writer and social media manager.


Interview with Maggie, a senior product manager at HubSpot

Slack and Zoom mostly. We also use Jira to track work. I’m also a huge fan of Trello.

I use Zoom for face to face meetings with my team, and I use Slack to chat with my teams and other individuals throughout the day. We are quite low on email usage and chat live on Slack for the most part.

We also use Jira to manage our engineering work. Finally, I have used Trello for everything from managing lists in my personal life, to executing major projects.

Remote work allows Maggie to live in a small town and excel in her career. Hear about how she stays professionally connected, and her essential career advice for remote workers.

Read full interview from Interview with Maggie, a senior product manager at HubSpot.


Interview with Ben, a web developer who freelances from home

Headphones. #1 with a bold and underline. I have significant other, and live in a semi-loud neighborhood, but even when it's almost silent, putting them on helps me focus. They're partially noise cancelling, so that extra quiet can help.

Netflix, Spotify, YouTube, other media.

I've found over the years that having media on in the background is usually helpful to getting me in the flow.

I've had a second screen on my computer for a very long time, and there's almost always something playing on it (usually shows or movies I've already watched, so I don't really pay more than 10% of my attention to them). The only time I don't is when I'm on a Skype call with someone, when I'm planning a project, or when I'm stuck on a difficult problem.

Screens. For the longest time I've had pair of standard 1080p 24" monitors (Dell Professional series, because they're one of the few monitors that have a vertical stand that slides up and down). Late last year I was able to upgrade to a 4k 27" panel, and it was the best piece of hardware I've gotten in a long time. I'm able to see way more code on the screen, see 2 full 1080 width browsers side by side, and just, more. The extra real-estate on one panel is well worth the cost of the monitor.

Desk lamp. Seriously, this one sounds dumb, but when the room gets dark enough that I can't see things properly, that little desk lamp balances it out so well. I have one that clips to the edge of my desk, and it's behind my monitor, so my keyboard is lit indirectly, and I don't get eyestrain.

Multiple CPU cores, and a good chunk of RAM. Having a beefy desktop means I can spin up small virtual machines to run test servers on, to run clean desktops for test environments, to partition off different clients environments.

It's a huge time save to just be able to close a VM, have it save state, then just boot up the next week with all the stuff you were working on exactly where you left off.

Notepad, note pad, boogie board, scrap paper. I use all of these things to take notes when I'm in the middle of something, or when someone asks me for a new feature or a tweak while we're reviewing a project, or just as a paste dump for thoughts in progress. I sometimes dump it to digital notes, sometimes to paper (which eventually goes to digital notes or tickets). There's something really good about being able to write out an idea on paper or board that makes it easy to see the whole picture. Which I grab varies from day to day, even minute to minute, but whatever feels best is what I use.

Learn the tips and tricks Ben uses to stay productive while working remotely on a hybrid team

Read full interview from Interview with Ben, a web developer who freelances from home.


Interview with Jake, a customer success manager for Atlassian

Trello for daily tasks and long-term goals. Slack, of course... all day, every day. Confluence for documentation and note-taking/information sharing. BearApp for personal notes. CloudApp for sharing screenshots. I also use Gmail and Google Calendar.

Jake was burned out on the San Francisco lifestyle—see how he transitioned from working in-office to working remotely for a remote-friendly company.

Read full interview from Interview with Jake, a customer success manager for Atlassian.


Interview with Jenna, a freelance writer who works remotely to help manage her health

I like to keep things as simple as possible, and I try to use my bullet journal and cell phone for anything and everything. My phone calendar is good for reminders, but for the most part I just use regular lists! I’m a huge list maker. I also use my phone timer really often – I’d forget to take breaks and eat if I didn’t.

Specific to writing, I use the Hemingway Editor, but not religiously. I edit my work pretty thoroughly, but it’s helpful sometimes for catching things I've missed. Oh, and Evernote! It’s much better than trying to use bookmarks to help me keep track of research, ideas, quotes, and so on.

Jenna started working remotely after realizing her office job was causing health problems—now she works as a freelance writer and writes about self-improvement

Read full interview from Interview with Jenna, a freelance writer who works remotely to help manage her health.


Interview with Molood, a CEO who shares how minimalism has improved her remote work experience

I get this question a lot. The truth is all I use is a calendar, a task management system, chat, and email. I do not believe that any combination of tools has the ability to make me more productive.

My own habits and the way I manage my time and space are what really make an impact on my productivity. Hiring a virtual assistant has been instrumental for staying on top of all the tasks I need to accomplish. And self-discipline has been another.

I can list the tools that have made it easier for me to stay productive and, in particular, those that have made my online meetings more professional no matter where in the world I conduct them from:

Hardware:

  • Logitech webcam (for a high-quality video anywhere)
  • Blue Snowflake microphone (portable microphone for a high-quality voice anywhere)
  • Airpod pro (has great noise canceling in any environment)
  • Clip-on ring light (to always have good lighting)

Software:

  • Krisp noise-canceling microphone to cancel the noise of the environment for the person/people on the other side of the call
  • Appointment booking that checks for all collisions in all calendars (I use Calendly)
  • Zoom, Google Meet, etc. (I am not tool dependent for video calls)

As CEO and Founder of Remote Forever, Molood has made a career in teaching individuals and companies how to work remotely effectively. See how embracing a minimalist lifestyle has caused her to excel.

Read full interview from Interview with Molood, a CEO who shares how minimalism has improved her remote work experience.


Interview with Lily, an entrepreneur building VR conferencing for remote teams

My favorite tools are:

My laptop

Work cell phone seamlessly integrated with the apps on my laptop. I like a work cell phone separate from a personal one so that I can turn it off, setting a clear delineation between work hours and personal time. Also, you don’t accidentally risk sending something to a co-worker you didn’t mean to.

HTC Vive VR headset for immersive meetings

A good old-fashioned pen and notebook for taking notes and writing down ideas.

Lily has almost a decade of remote work experience, now she's building the team collaboration tool of the future with Virtual Reality

Read full interview from Interview with Lily, an entrepreneur building VR conferencing for remote teams.

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