6 Programs You Should Download Right Now if You Work Remotely
You work remotely and you need your software to support that. You've already got Slack and Zoom for communication, Asana and Trello for project management, Toggl and Monday for time management, Google Docs and Dropbox for file sharing...
An article about tools and programs for remote work that only included those core applications wouldn't tell you anything you don't already know. But what else is out there?
Sourced from me (hi, I'm a remote worker) + dozens of people in my (our!) remote-work community, here are 6 programs to download if you work remotely:
OmmWriter. Whether you're a writer (hi, me again) or not, you probably have to use words at some point in your day — you know, crafting social media posts, drafting a project plan, coming up with an email response that says "you suck" without actually saying "you suck" to the client / coworker / human who is driving you up a wall on any given day. This program provides a beautiful, distraction-free screen for you to write in, with clicky-clacky keyboard sounds and soothing background music included. Price: They have a pay-what-you-think-it's-worth system, with a minimum price of $6.92.
For Collaborating Across Countries:
Timeanddate.com. Their website is basic but their value-add is huge, and if you have teammates or clients scattered all over the globe, their World Clock Meeting Planner, which lets you plug in multiple locations and time zones and shows you color-coded time slots, can't be beat. You're in Las Vegas trying to plan a sync with collaborators in Lagos and Luxembourg? Turns out your Monday 8 a.m., their Monday 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., respectively, is your best bet. Price: Free!
The obviously-named SelfControl, or if you don't use a Mac and/or don't like the idea of downloading an application that can take control of your computer, the Chrome extension Productivity Owl. These programs come in handy when you have work to do, but the siren song of your internet drug of choice — Twitter, PostSecret, Gilt, Reddit, things that aren't appropriate to write about here — is calling. You can set them up to block you from whatever websites you find most distracting or give you only a certain amount of time on selected sites. True story: one night, when I had SelfControl enabled to help me focus on a project, Beyoncé dropped a new album. I'd blocked myself from Twitter, YouTube, and most of my favorite celebrity news sites, so I was left in the dark until my timer ran out (and I finished my project). It was good for my productivity, but terrible for my ability to immediately follow music news. Keep that in mind. Price: Free!
For Working While You Travel:
TripMode. If you're a digital nomad type who works from wherever you are at any given moment, you're probably an expert in navigating the minefields of public wifi, mobile hotspots, and shoddy internet connections. TripMode lets you give individual apps or programs access to the internet, allowing you to use your single bar of connection to upload and send your final project, not to backup your latest scuba photos or download unnecessary updates. Price: $8.90.
For Managing Passwords:
Dashlane. You have all of these programs to make your life easier, and they usually do, except for when you forget your password to one of them and find yourself locked out of your account, fuming at your keyboard. Dashlane helps you avoid that by managing up to 50 passwords (or unlimited passwords, in their paid version) for you. Their free version even offers their Password Changer, which can update all of your passwords in one click (something you've been meaning to do for years, since your go-to of "steven123" was probably never very secure and certainly isn't in this day and age). Price: free for a basic account, or $4.99/month for a premium account that comes with a VPN.
For Basically Everything Else:
IFTTT. I don't know why more people don't use this service. Probably because they just don't know about it, I suppose, which is why I'm happy to be writing about it here. Its name is short for If This, Then That. I've had an account with them for years, and it's like having a free, very efficient virtual assistant. Basically, its service lets you program automatic actions for any of your smart devices, triggered by certain events or schedules. A very simple one is for IFTTT to text you "Bring an umbrella!" if it's scheduled to rain that day. You can also have any Google Calendar invites show up on your iCalendar—if you find yourself stuck between the two operating systems, or track your hours at work based on your location. (This works better if you go to an office/co-working space versus work from home.) My favorite fun one (more here): get a notification when the International Space Station passes over your house. Price: Free!
I hope these programs make your life better and your work easier.
I also hope you don't miss Beyoncé's next surprise drop because you're using SelfControl, because I wouldn't wish that on anybody. Have I missed any must-have programs that get you through the day? Let me know in the comments!
It's been six years since Sarah Cooper graced us with her 10 Tricks to Appear Smart in Meetings. But how on earth can we appear smart in our new virtual world, in which for many of us, going to work is just sitting in one long series of probably-not-necessary Zoom meetings?
1. Dial in.<p>Dialing in rather than joining via the link instantly boosts your credibility. Who calls into Zoom meetings? People who are still busy and important enough to be leaving their houses! But you needn't actually be one of those people, or even more than a foot away from your computer to pull off this maneuver. (Remember, this article is called *seeming* smart, not being smart.)</p><p><strong></strong><em>Bonus: </em>If it's a large meeting at which attendance will be taken, the person running the meeting will inevitably ask, "Who's calling in from 443-322-2121?" That's when you raise your metaphorical hand, jump off mute, and say "[Your name] here. Really looking forward to hearing your perspective on [meeting topic]." And voila! You've stolen the meeting spotlight.</p>
2. Don't come on camera—ever.<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ0ODU5OS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNjMwNjI3OX0.4fLyq2CvkZAJ7n_03esZepY37mOdyGdDdTEUYt5XEU0/img.png?width=980" id="bc7e6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="fbbf21cc5d8c863b30654ae6993b04f5" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p><br></p><p>Much like the "dial in," this technique works because it makes you appear aloof. If <em>The Crown has </em>taught me anything, it's that the key to maintaining a sense of mystique and prestige is to keep people at arm's length—and if you absolutely <em>must</em> touch them, wear a glove.</p>
3. Only communicate via chat.<p>Once you've mastered the art of staying off camera, you can level up by communicating exclusively via the chat box. Don't come off mute at all, even if the speaker asks your opinion. You are the elusive chatter and you will not be forced into actually participating in said meeting.</p>
4. Ask to share your screen.<p>Being aloof is great, but it's all about balance. Sprinkling in some active participation will really shock and impress your colleagues if you catch them off guard, so save this technique for when you've strategically <em>not </em>participated in a string of meetings.</p><p>Spend a few minutes prior to the meeting prepping a few inspirational slides with words like "synergy," "optimization," and "redefining 'culture'", or spend a few minutes poking around in Google Analytics. </p><p>Then wait for the opportune moment to say, "Can I just share my screen for a moment? I have some really interesting data I'd like to share...." and BAM — brilliance established.</p>
5. Show off your Zoom-saviness.<p>Try saying, "You know you can mute people, right?" to the host when they beg whoever's got the lawn mower and crying baby in the background to put themselves on mute for the nth time.<br></p>
6. Create an alter ego.<p>This tactic requires commitment, but the pay off is certainly worth it. Join the Zoom meeting from your normal account + name, and then join it again on a second device from an alias. Have your alter-ego ask some probing or stat-based questions in the chat and have the answers ready ahead of time. It should work something like this:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>Your alter ego Charlene</strong><strong>:</strong> "Does anyone know what percentage conversion rates increased by in Q2?"</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><strong>Real you</strong>: *doesn't miss a beat* "It looks like Charlene has a question in the chat. That would be 36%."</p><div>Never mind that no one on your team knows who Charlene is or why she's at this meeting, they'll be too blown away by your brilliance to notice. (Bonus points if you use this strategy in conjunction with techniques 1, 2, 3 or 4!)</div>
7. Place an obscure object in your background that exudes intelligence.<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ0ODYxOC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNzk5Njg2Mn0.V9_-3Ij3v_QndseqlrXRt5Nn39EJ97-itjls5zzYPf8/img.png?width=980" id="a369d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="604a2f04b53c2e3bc801bfa5256f367b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p><br></p><p>We're talking a telescope, or perhaps a hardcover copy of <em>War & Peace </em>(no one need know that its only purpose in your life is as a makeshift yoga block).</p><p>If you don't have any suitable props at your disposal, do not despair: download some screenshots of Sheldon's apartment from <em>Big Bang Theory </em>or the chalkboard in <em>Good Will Hunting </em>and use those as a virtual background.</p>
8. Ask "Is this really the best course of action given the current climate?"<p>Economic collapse, COVID, racism… No need to specify whether you're referring to one or all of the above; just sit back and watch your boss squirm amidst the ambiguity.</p><p>This strategy pairs very well with techniques 2 and 3. You can prep additional vague-but-probing questions ahead of time and pepper them into the chat box throughout the meeting:</p><ul><li>How will this scale?</li><li>Do we really have the bandwidth for this right now?</li><li>What's the value-add here?</li></ul>
9. Remind everyone that you have a paid Zoom account.<p>"Oh, it looks like we're getting the 40-minute warning. I have a paid account, do you want to switch to my room?" It's helpful, with just a touch of condescension. Everyone knows condescending people are smart. And everyone knows that people with paid Zoom accounts are super important.</p>
10. Tell everyone you have a hard stop.<p>When pressed for details, share your philosophy on "work-from-home" balance and how committed you are to getting up once an hour to walk to your refrigerator.</p>
11. Ask the screensharer/host to "pull something up" for everyone.<p>Ask the presenter to navigate to a screen that only you know how to navigate well. Laugh maniacally while they suffer from crippling performance anxiety. Let them struggle for as long as is tolerable before saying, "Oh you know what? I can just share my screen if you want. That would probably be easier." BAM you're the hero. Don't worry, no one will even pause to consider that you could have proposed this course of action from the start.</p>
12. Say Zoom fatigue as many times as possible.<p>If you're too tired to employ any of the other strategies, just say "I know everyone is experiencing a lot of Zoom fatigue, so we can keep this meeting short." Then hang up as quickly as possible. Meeting averted! </p><p>After all, there's no better way to demonstrate your intelligence in a virtual meeting than to demonstrate why it wasn't really necessary in the first place. </p>
I sat in front of my CEO to discuss several complaints of racism. I was new to my role as a Culture Director. I was nervous about his reaction to the complaints. But I also knew he strongly supported developing this new department; I knew that he would take the right steps. So I was shocked when I heard him say sheepishly, "I don't know, Noelle...all of this stuff about racism. I just don't see it. I don't even see color. I'm pretty much color blind."
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