7 essential productivity tools and techniques for remote work
By: Jill Huettich
With more and more employees working from home, productivity is an even greater concern for businesses. After all, how do you keep employees on track when you can’t monitor them on a day-to-day basis?
It’s an important question. Fortunately, we have good news. While your fears of reduced productivity are reasonable, employees who work from home typically put in more hours than their counterparts at the office.
For instance, according to one study, remote workers work 1.4 additional days a month than employees who work in an office. That’s an extra 16.8 days a year!
Still, to achieve results like those, you’ll want to make sure your employees have the productivity tools they need to be successful. It’s also valuable to educate them about productivity techniques they can use to minimize procrastination while maximizing productivity.
To help you in that endeavor, we’ve written this introductory guide that explains some of the best productivity tools and techniques around.
What are some productivity techniques?
There are a number of highly effective productivity techniques that are perfect for eliminating procrastination, keeping teams focused, and maximizing work output. Here are some of the most popular:
1. Eat That Frog
First popularized in Brian Tracy’s book, Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time, the Eat That Frog method has many fans.
It works like this … each morning, you complete your least desirable task of the day first. Typically, this is a task that you have to do but really don’t want to. By getting it out of the way early on, you’ll eliminate the natural tendency of turning to busy work to avoid doing it.
2. The Swiss Cheese Method
There are some tasks that are so large, they seem overwhelming. Of course, the obvious solution is to tackle them in small chunks.
However, usually that’s not what happens. Instead, we’re inclined to procrastinate—believing that we shouldn’t even start a large project at all, unless we have several hours of time to devote to it.
The Swiss Cheese Method is useful for projects that fall into this category. To use this technique, you’ll want to divide a large project into subtasks, aiming for subtasks that take between 10-45 minutes to complete.
Once you’ve identified the subtasks, take a piece of paper and draw circles on it—with each circle representing a subtask. As you complete a subtask, color in the hole. While this method may seem somewhat simplistic, it’s a great way to make a large project feel infinitely more manageable—which will help eliminate procrastination.
3. The 80/20 Rule
This rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, weighs effort against results. The 80/20 rule is based upon the philosophy that 20% of inputs are responsible for 80% of outputs.
So, to take advantage of this rule, you’ll first want to determine what your most important priorities are. Then, direct your efforts to the top 20% of your priorities. This prevents your attention from becoming scattered across multiple objectives, so you make solid progress on the activities that’ll yield the best results.
What are some useful team productivity tools?
To ensure your business continues to meet its strategic goals when employees are working remotely, here are 4 essential team productivity tools you’ll want to use:
To keep track of sales calls, Zoom meetings, and team activity, it’s important to have a calendar or scheduler for teammates. This will help employees stay on top of all the responsibilities they’ll need to manage when working remotely.
For instance, you might try something like Google Calendar which allows you to create a team calendar. A team calendar will help you see which team members are occupied and when. Even better, Google Calendar integrates with other productivity software, like MindManager, so you can keep all your relevant work-related data organized in a central location.
5. Communication tools
When your team is working remotely, a good communication tool becomes that much more important for increasing the productivity of employees. After all, consider the alternative—a free-for-all where people use whatever communication method they prefer, like personal email, social media, texting, and the like. Not only is this unprofessional, but it can also lead to important information being misplaced, and even security breaches.
To prevent this likelihood, you might consider a communication tool like Slack, which organizes conversations into dedicated spaces called channels. Another great option is MindManager’s Co-Editing add-on. Co-Editing facilitates dynamic planning sessions, knowledge sharing, brainstorming, and more—all within a secure cloud-based setting.
6. Project management tools
The importance of having your entire team on the same page cannot be overstated. Project management software to the rescue!
With a project management tool, teams can define a project’s scope and requirements, then track its progress. Additionally, projects can be viewed by resource, tasks, timeline, and more for 360-degree visibility into risks, red flags, and status.
For these reasons, a good project management tool will keep your business headed in the right direction, even when teammates aren’t actually in the office.
7. Workflow tools
Workflow tools are essential for productivity in the workplace when team members need to be able to visualize data. For instance, you can use a workflow tool to create workflow diagrams, flowcharts, concept maps, timelines, business diagrams, and virtually any type of chart you can imagine.
Plus, there’s so much you can do with a workflow tool. For instance, the right tool makes it easy for teams to brainstorm, map processes, plan meetings, launch new products, forecast, budget, create presentations, and get a “big picture” overview at a glance.
As you can see, there are a number of productivity tools and techniques you can use to empower your remote workforce. By incorporating these productivity tools and techniques into your workplace, you can remain confident that even though employees aren’t physically present, they’re still making progress toward your organization’s goals.
That said, when it comes to productivity, you can’t underestimate the impact of the right software. For instance, MindManager you manage your team’s calendar, track the progress of projects, visualize workflows, and improve remote communications.