During this pandemic, you might find yourself working remotely from home for a while. For some, this is a dream come true; for others, it’s a logistical nightmare. How do you remain productive for a full shift? How do you continue to work as a team? How often do you take breaks? The questions go on and on.

Thankfully, there are numerous apps and websites that can answer any of these questions, helping you to stay on track with the growing demands of the workplace while remaining sane. Let’s dive right in!

Microsoft Outlook

Microsoft Outlook is one of the best apps out there if you’re looking for a way to manage your workload, schedule breaks or appointments, and keep in touch with your team. Paired with Microsoft Teams, it allows you to email, call, or instant message your colleagues within its broad set of features.

Both programs are available through multiple different methods: mobile apps like the ones on your phone and tablet (for Android or Apple), downloadable programs on your desktop or laptop computer, or even inside an internet browser such as Google Chrome or Apple Safari. We’ll be using an internet browser for this example. Just click this link, sign in, and you’re good to go. So how exactly do you schedule breaks? Click the Calendar icon located in the bottom left corner of Outlook. Then click “New Appointment” near the top, which will lead you to this screen.

Microsoft Outlook Calendar

From here, choose your Start and End times like I did, click “Make Recurring” if you’d like it to schedule breaks for you on multiple days, and then click “Save and Close”. This gives you a notification – or a pop-up – several minutes before you take your break. This way, you’ll never skip a break or miss a work meeting while you’re working from home!

Okay, so what’s the downside? Well, Outlook’s email and calendar client is free to use in a web browser, but not to download. This makes it kind of clunky and cumbersome if you’re not a Windows computer user. Also, scheduling breaks via the Pomodoro method (more on this in the next section) is irritating, to say the least. There are some alternative apps and websites to Outlook that you can use on phones or tablets, however…

Tomato Timer

Instead of downloading an app, just bookmark the page for Tomato Timer! It’s 100% free, for one. It follows the Pomodoro technique, which illustrates how frequently you should take micro-breaks in order to reach maximum efficiency and productivity.

Tomato Timer

Each hour consists of 25 minutes of work, a 5-minute break, 20 minutes of work, and then a 10-minute break. This keeps you focused on your work tasks, yet prevents burnout as the hours continue. It also sports a very simple user interface. Once each countdown hits 0, a watch alarm will beep and let you know it’s time to step away from your desk for a few… or when you unfortunately have to return to it.

Google Calendar

If you’re looking for an alternate app to Outlook that you can get on your phone or tablet, look no further than Google Calendar. The interface is a lot more simplistic than Outlook’s and the app is thankfully free. Scheduling events and breaks is quite easy! The only downside is that it isn’t available for home computers like laptops and desktops. Here’s the Apple device link and the Android device link if you want to give it a shot!

Google Calendar

When I Work

Perhaps one of the most robust tools for scheduling frequent breaks or meetings is When I Work. Although this can be a paid app, there’s a free version that supports necessary features such as communicating with your immediate team members and scheduling breaks or work hours. The link above brings you to the website. For tablet or mobile users, there’s an app depending on your device (Apple or Android). One issue with When I Work is there are a ton of ads in the free version, so keep this in mind if you give it a shot.

. . .

So hopefully this helps ease your mind about scheduling, productivity, and communication. Although most services have closed, techKNOWtutors remains open – digitally – to answer your internet-related questions. If you need help with connecting to loved ones or even setting up an account with a service like Skype, send us an email at techknowtutors@cscnl.ca or join our Facebook group and send us a message!

Better yet, sign up for one of our online classes that we offer for FREE every week! Until then, stay in the techKNOW.

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