Home Office / Tips, Tricks and Resources

March 21, 2013

home office tips

For this edition of our little mini series, Home Office, I thought I’d share my top tips, tricks and resources I’m currently relying on as I work from home. I alluded to a few of these in my previous Home Office posts on challenges and routines, but I thought I’d elaborate a little and then I’d love to hear your suggestions as well!


A few weeks ago, I was having coffee with my Styled in Ireland partner in crime, Julie, and we got to chatting about how we keep our ducks in a row. She was surprised to hear I rely only on Google Calendar and my trusty spiral bound notebook. No other apps or programmes, just my online calendar and my notebook of lists. That said, within my Google Calendar, I have at least five different calendars, color coded by company or project – it helps me keep track of interviews I have schedule for Marriage Snapshots, as well as to keep track of when my work has been published in other places. And it’s where I create my editorial calendar for From China Village. I love that I can capture ideas for posts, but then move them around depending on where I think they’ll fit.

I also use Gmail to keep my inbox organized. I have an enormous fear of deleting emails, so if I think I might ever need an email again, I file it away in a folder. What I love about Gmail is you can search for nearly anything instead of going back into those folders. I typically remember the general gist of the email or half of a person’s name, so having a strong search function within my inbox is incredibly helpful.

Keeping Me Company

When I first started working from home, Michael would walk in the door and get bombarded with questions about his day, who he saw, what he did. I think I was a little starved for human interaction! Now one of my tricks is to click on a podcast or radio programme during the day. It seems to keep Michael from getting accosted when he walks in the door! When I’m writing, I usually click on Monocle Radio. The music is peppy and the features are really interesting. Plus, I think the British accents make me feel like I should be on my best behavior – which keeps me productive! If I’m doing something like a craft project or even brainstorming for a new idea, I turn on a podcast. I am hooked on Design*Sponge’s After the Jump, and the Dinner Party Download. In fact, if you talk to me for more than 5 minutes, I will probably recommend the Dinner Party Download. It is hilarious and current and feels like a treat.

Wellness and Productivity

You know what my best trick for working from home has been? I sit on a big exercise ball instead of a chair. I usually have a tough time sitting still for more than a few hours, but sitting on an exercise ball is an entirely different experience – it doesn’t allow you to hunch, your butt doesn’t get tired of sitting, and it’s working your core the whole time.

My last tip has probably increased my productivity more than anything else: turn off social media. I tend to be the kind of person who has 15 tabs open in my browser all the time – including Facebook and Twitter. And I’m also the kind of person who can’t ignore those little numbers next to the tab title – Twitter (56 new tweets). Ugh. Even though I may not read any of those 56 tweets, I somehow feel compelled to click into the tab and make that annoying number go away. I’ve found that I cannot leave notifications alone, and I was spending so much time getting sucked back into Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest by just having those tabs open. So they are open no longer. Unless I’m posting something or responding to an urgent notification (which ding dings at me on my iPhone), I don’t open any social media tabs during the day.

So those are my simple little tips that make working from home a little easier. What are your go-to apps, programmes, tips and tricks?



  • Reply Emma Jane McGuire Fallon March 21, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    I have to agree with you about ignoring social media sites, as my home-work is craft based, sitting at my PC means I’m not producing! I was gifted an android tablet at Christmas, which dings if an email arrives or if a relevant FB or rare tweet needs attention, so now I only turn on my PC every 2 Or 3 days to clear down the collected mails, unless some photo-shopping needs doing! I also reccommend getting out! I try to fit in a short morning session of aerobics or circuit training at the gym, and my dog gets a lunchtime walk a couple days a week. I find, self employed and home-based workers are afraid to leave their work, as if they are not working they are not earning, but it is OK to get out and get air and a change of scenery.

    • Reply emily March 28, 2013 at 10:46 am

      I think you are so right, Emma Jane. It can be scary to walk away because you feel like you might be missing something, or not working hard enough, but some of my best ideas come when I’m out running or doing the dishes!

  • Reply Jess {JessinBelgium} March 22, 2013 at 10:55 am

    Just downloaded some episodes of Dinner Party Download to listen to during my train ride this evening. It sounds like one of those things I am going to get hooked on and wonder how I ever lived with it… (I’ve also just become hooked on “The Skimm” daily brief http://www.theskimm.com/) Thanks for the tip!

    • Reply emily March 28, 2013 at 10:46 am

      Jess, I am hooked on the Skimm. Thank you for the suggestion! What did you think of the Dinner Party Download?

  • Reply julie March 22, 2013 at 11:19 am

    Hehe, I’m seeing a bit of a theme emerging – Ryan decided he wanted to go paperless and by the time I had done an hour or so of research on what hardware, software, systems and processes people are using, he’d scanned in half of the documents in our big box of paperwork 😉

    Technically I could do what I’m doing with just gmail, google drive and calendar but I like to have a clean & pretty visual overview of everything so I’m loving Podio for that – and it works well because it integrates with those google systems.

    • Reply emily March 28, 2013 at 10:47 am

      But what would you do if the internets failed??! 😉 I love the idea. I find we collect so much paperwork and then I just end up chucking it months later because it all piles up and drives me nuts!

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