Working without an office is the dream.
There are thousands— maybe millions— of office drones who stare at the inside of their cubicle walls every day wishing they could be where you’re sitting right now.
There’s just one problem: working without an office isn’t always as easy as it’s cracked up to be. In fact, separating yourself from the high-tech copier, the camaraderie, and the never-ending stream of office supplies can be downright depressing the first few days.
Don’t worry. We have you covered.
If you’re like most human beings, you have a strong love/hate relationship with the online world. On one hand, you love the conveniences of the Internet; on the other, you find it a major distraction when there’s work to be done.
If you want to stop the aimless surfing and the productivity drain the Internet represents on a daily basis, then IFTTT is great for putting the Internet to work for you, rather than against you.
IFTTT stands for “If This, Then That.” The idea is simple: put together some easy cause-and-effect “recipes” like “if I upload a picture to Instagram, then back it up to my Dropbox account.” Needless to say, the possibilities are endless—and the effect is that IFTTT is a little bit like having a robot do half of your work for you.
2. All-in-one Printer/Scanner/Copiers
These all-in-one tools are essential for any home business because these days, you can do everything from scanning to copying to printing to faxing. Of course, identifying the right Printer/Scanner/Copier machine for the right price isn’t always easy, but a quick search on a website like NewEgg.com will yield some impressive results. Or head down to your local staples and have a customer associate help you out.
If you’re still stuck, we can point you in the right direction.
3. Web Conferencing
Even though you’ve untethered yourself from the office, you’re still going to need to get in contact with co-workers, clients, and business leads on a personal basis. The most effective tool for handling that is Web conferencing software like Skype. You’ve probably already heard of Skype by now, so you get the gist: you can have a face-to-face conversation with anyone else in the world so long as they also have a webcam.
The online backup tool is easy to integrate onto your computer, sure, but thanks to its integration with IFTTT, you’d be amazed at just how easily you can make online backup—it can essentially be handled automatically. There’s no more reason to email yourself Word documents because you’re not sure if your hard drive is going to crash or not; instead, Dropbox will have all of your latest uploads in an easy-to-find folder.
This is a great (and free) alternative for doing everything yourself via an external hard drive, and it’s the kind of tool that will have you sleeping better at night. Don’t wonder if you’ve backed something up—set it up once with Dropbox and never worry about it again.
5. Virtual Assistance
Of course, being in your own office means that there’s no office assistant to handle the nitty-gritty stuff you’d rather avoid…but that doesn’t mean you have to hire someone to hang out with you.
Virtual assistants are available on sites like Elance.com so you can outsource everything from inbox management to even handling calls if you have the appropriate phone system set up.
If it seems like this tool is recommended over and over again in the entrepreneurship world, that’s because there’s a reason for it. Product management technology like Basecamp is essential for working with others on the same project, especially when your varied locations means that the team can’t all meet in the same conference room.
Basecamp will help you to stay in touch with colleagues, employees, and your clients, depending on the situation—and it will help ensure that your daily “To-do” list is easy to bring up so you can set aside the time you need to get to work.
Let’s be real for a moment, shall we? When you’re untethered from a full, working office, one of the first things to go by the wayside isn’t any technology, but rather your personal productivity. Now that you can spend all day on Facebook and Twitter, suddenly you find yourself actually following through.
Don’t let yourself succumb to the temptations of privacy. Instead, invest in time management software like RescueTime. This software doesn’t only keep you honest, but it logs all of your work so you can see which sites are truly doing the most damage. We’re looking at you, Reddit.
8. A Clean, Well-lit Space
In this world of technology and software applications, don’t forget that your real-world environment has a significant impact on the way you work. It’s important not only to have a professional desk to sit at, but the little tools and resources you need to get in a “work mode.”
This is different for everyone. Some people will write down more notes if they enjoy fountain pens, for example. Put a nice memo pad next to your computer on your desk and clear out any other potential distractions—even though you might work online, you’d be shocked at how much you find yourself wishing you could jot down a quick note in the real world.
Finally, some basic computer-based organization is a must-have if you’re going to keep your office-away-from-the-office some sanity. To-do lists, brainstorming ideas, notes to self, and much more can all be tracked here easily, allowing you to handle the thinking while Trello does the organizing.
This is perfect if you’re usually a scatter-brained, creative-type individual who would rather think about ideas than label all of their file folders.
These tools are just an introduction to the world of software, apps, and hardware that can make your office-away-from-the-office a special, comfortable, and productive place to work. Experiment with these tools, try them out, and keep the ones that save you time—and toss the ones that don’t. After all, what’s the sense in living the dream if you don’t live it on your terms?