With more of us working from home than ever before (and striving for the wonders of convenient, distraction-free productivity in the process), it’s vital that everyone is given the best chance to work their magic without being held back.
And yet, things like at-home distractions, slow internet connections, unstable work calls, long uploads, and more, can soon turn a great workday into one you’d rather forget. Anyone who’s dealt with laggy connections during an important Teams presentation will, unfortunately, be able to relate. But there’s hope.
There are plenty of smart tech options available to help you be your best, most productive self. From helping you manage your time, to ensuring that your tech will never hold you back, here are six ways to boost your career with smart tech.
1. Time’s a ticking
Time is the most precious resource any of us have. And while a typical eight-hour workday might sound like plenty of hours to get work done, it can be scary how fast those hours get eaten up without realising. And while you might be free from the distractions of office chatter, working from home serves up plenty of distraction traps for you to contend with.
Thankfully, there’s a simple solution to help your time discipline flourish. It’s called the Pomodoro Technique — a time management method which sees you do 25-straight minutes of work, with five-minute breaks in between. After four consecutive work intervals, you can have a longer 15-30 minute break, if you fancy. Each interval is called a pomodoro (Italian for tomato), and there are plenty of free apps/timers to help you keep track and stick to it.
These very words, in fact, were written while using a free site called pomofocus.io, and while it sounds like regular breaks are a bad thing, you’ll actually find yourself intensely focusing during those 25-minute slots. So much so, in fact, that you might decide to skip the five-minute breaks altogether every so often, if you find yourself in a flow-like state of concentration.
2. Do Not Disturb
Even if you’ve nailed your time management, the rest of the world will find ways to break through your concentration armour. Social media, WhatsApp, and more, are all trying to steal your attention and focus. Don’t let them.
Regardless of what phone you’re using, there’ll be some form of Do Not Disturb feature which lets you customise muting notifications for various apps between set hours. You can still have important things like phone calls come through, mind, but the worst culprits won’t be pinging your phone every few minutes, which is a godsend for productivity.
3. To-do or not to-do
There’s no denying the positive impact that to-do lists can have on your productivity. But if you’ve tried and failed multiple times (with, scrunched-up, long-forgotten Post-its littering your desk), then it might be worth changing your tactic.
Thankfully, there are plenty of smart digital to-do list offerings out there, like todoist.com. Once signed up, you can create neat, organised, and easily editable to-do items, which can be categorised and arranged in order of priority, with dates and times thrown in for good measure. It’s far quicker, easier, and neater than paper-based options, and you can easily share items with team members for better collaboration.
4. Top priority
Once you’ve got the basic foundations sorted — time discipline, blocking out distractions, and organising tasks — the last thing you’ll want is to fail as a result of bad tools. You could be the most focused individual in the world, but if your tech lets you down, then the frustrations and loss of productivity will soon ramp up.
One of the most annoying issues with working from home, for example, are the constant dropped calls, glitchy voices, and pixellated messes that video calls can all too easily turn into. Thankfully, EE’s WiFi Enhancer for Smart Hub Plus is here to save the day. It’s a subscription-based add-on service packed with useful tools to help supercharge your online experience, one of which is Work Mode.
Activated at the press of a button in the EE app, Work Mode will prioritise important apps like Zoom and Teams, ensuring that they’re given priority over other things like online gaming or streaming. It’s a little bit like the hard shoulder on a motorway, ensuring that all the bits that are important for your video calls are transmitted in their own high-priority lane, for the very best quality possible.
Once your call is over, you can still leave it on, as it’s clever enough to automatically activate itself once it detects another call has started. You’ll still get the best possible experience across all of your devices for non-work activities as well — from streaming Netflix to beating lap records in Forza, EE’s rock-solid connection will cater to all of your needs without a hitch.
5. Share the love
Another incredibly useful feature of the EE Smart Hub Plus is the Wifi Controls feature, which gives you full control over a whole host of useful settings, which would normally be buried in complicated menus.
You can easily provide guests with a QR code for pain-free WiFi password sharing, for a start, which means the days of fumbling around to reach the back of a router for the password are finally over. If you have colleagues and/or clients coming over, this is a particularly handy feature that makes the process as seamless as possible, while looking more professional in the process.
6. Go with the flow
Even when you’re away from the hustle and bustle of the office, there are plenty of distractions at home which might stop you from reaching a state of flow — aka, that zen-like zone when you lose yourself in a task with maximum concentration.
While it’s easy to tell yourself that you’ll check out just three more cat gifs before you start checking your emails, you can help give your willpower a boost with another great feature in WiFi Controls — namely, the ability to schedule a Wi-Fi Freeze to temporarily block connectivity, or use parental controls to block specific sites.
Set the freeze for an hour each morning, and you can check through your emails, draft up your to-do lists, and be set for the day the right way, with no distractions in sight. Turn it off, and you’ll soon be lost in memes and gifs on your lunch break. Coupled with methods like the Pomodoro Technique and Do Not Disturb mode, you’ll be a veritable zen-like productivity powerhouse in no time.