This is a guest post by Ashlee McCullen. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.
Whether you’re a solo entrepreneur or an employee looking for time away from your cubicle, it’s easier than ever to get work done outside of a traditional office.
Before the advent of high quality laptops, internet-connected smartphones, and cloud services, you may have had no choice but to work in an office, even if that was a home office. Today, however, you can work on documents anywhere and with any device thanks to web apps and synchronized web storage of files.
I’m going to offer some tools that will help you stay organized, productive, and connected, whether you’re working from a café or co-working space.
Tools You’ll Need
Mobile Broadband: When your co-workers and clients depend on your productivity, you don’t want to take chances with Internet access. Many coffee shops offer wi-fi, but you don’t want to be tied to any particular place if you are a mobile worker. Or maybe you just want to spend time working at a local park, where wi-fi is not offered.
I highly recommend investing in an Internet service. Personally, I use and love T-Mobile mobile broadband services. This way, I can work from my Android smartphone or tether the service to my Lenovo.
Dropbox: With online storage service Dropbox, I can store my work documents online, and have them ready for me on my desktop, smartphone, and laptop. All versions of my files are the same across devices, and I don’t need to do any complex setup or synching.
Personally, I’ve replaced my primary desktop’s “Documents” folder with my Dropbox folder, and keep everything there. If that’s not an option, you can still make copies of certain files in Dropbox. Either way, online document storage is far easier and more efficient than sending yourself (or your colleagues) e-mail attachments.
1Password: Between my e-mail accounts, online services, and social media accounts, I have tons of passwords. I save them in password manager 1Password, which keeps the information encrypted while syncing it across devices. You’ll get the best of both worlds: Security and convenience.
QuickOffice: This mobile office app works on smartphones, but is ideal for tablets. Available on both iPhone and Android, QuickOffice enables you to access and edit documents you’ve stored in Dropbox or that you created through Google Docs.
Evernote: Whatever your job is, you’ll be collecting information ranging from names to important links and information about projects and clients. I personally keep as much of that information as possible in Evernote, so I can access it anywhere.
LogMeIn Ignition: Not everyone will need this service, but it can be a down-right lifesaver if you work on multiple computers. With LogMeIn, I can take control of my desktop computer – which is my primary computer – and access files, information, or software that aren’t available through my laptop for smartphone. Trust me. You don’t want to have to travel to your office to retrieve a file you forgot to put into Dropbox.
Wunderlist: Just because you’re working outside a traditional office doesn’t mean you can slack off. Using online task manager Wunderlist, I always know what tasks I need to accomplish and if they’re due soon. I use the web service and Android app to stay connected to my responsibilities and work with greater focus.
Skype: All things being equal, I prefer using Skype over other services for chatting with co-workers. However, if your office already uses Cisco WebEx, GotoMeeting, or several other prominent chat clients, you’ll most likely find mobile apps for Android and iPhone. Get your office onboard with one of these services, so you can always send messages and conduct virtual staff meetings.
Of course, all the tools in the world won’t help if you are easily distracted, don’t prioritize your work, or just don’t work well by yourself.
Find a place to work where you can be focused, tune out your non-work obligations, and even consider dressing in your full office attire to be productive. You can find these and many other tips here.
About the Author: Ashlee McCullen is a staff writer for ApronAddicts.com, a website about fashionable aprons and kitchen style.