On one hand working from home is truly awesome. Your commute is however far it is from your bed to your laptop, you don’t have to deal face-to-face with annoying colleagues, you can make your own homemade, healthy snacks, and yes, you can work in your pajamas.
On the other hand, working from home turns your cozy sanctuary into an extension of your workplace, and it can be hard to switch off the way you normally would when you leave a physical place.
While there are some things you can do to mitigate this, like finding a place to work that’s not where you play, being strict with cut off times to stop working, and making sure you take regular breaks, there are also some other hacks that we think can help your work-from-home process. These come in the form of Google Chrome extensions.
These free add-ons to your browser are tiny tools that can make a difference to your working day by improving your productivity and wellbeing. While not all of these will be useful to everyone, we’re sure there will be at least a few of these Chrome extensions that will improve your work-from-home experience.
Momentum is a very popular Chrome extension boasting over three million users. It replaces your normal new tab page with a”personal dashboard,” featuring a beautiful landscape photograph, a to-do list, your personalized weather, and inspirational quotes.
If you’re the type of person that likes to center yourself and take a calming deep breath before you hit the power button on your laptop, Momentum is for you. The team behind the tool states the aim of the extension is creating a new tab page that gives you a moment of calm and inspires you to be more productive. It achieves this last part by asking you what’s your “main focus” each day, a handy reminder to keep yourself on track.
Image: zoom scheduler
We’ve all marveled at the meteoric rise of Zoom during 2020. For obvious reasons, the service has seen a huge increase in users. If this is the platform that your company uses for “cloud meetings” then you need this extension in your life.
The Zoom Chrome Extension allows any user to schedule Zoom meetings directly from Google Calendar. With the click of your mouse, you can start an instant meeting right there and then, or schedule for a future meeting to take place at a time that suits you.
Once you’ve set up a Zoom meeting, the meeting URL and any other information you’ve added is sent via a Google Calendar invitation so the person, or people, you’ve invited can join with a single click.
Image: Minimalist Notepad
If you’re used to spreading yourself around a lovely, sizable desk with notepads, post-it notes, and memos dotted all over the place, working from your couch can be a struggle.
Use your work-from-home experience as an opportunity to improve your working habits by making your notes digital. Minimalist Notepad offers a “simple, elegant way” to quickly write down your notes, to-do lists, shopping lists, links you want to visit or bookmark, images you need to reference, videos you want to watch, and more. You can launch it directly from your browser bar in a matter of seconds. It may be simple, but it is also fully-featured.
While you can use it as a simple text tool, it supports all kinds of formatting options, including font size/type/style/color/background color, block-quotes, bulleted lists, image and video insertions, and URL links, among other useful tools. Ditch the planet-harming post-its and go digital!
We’re all about wellbeing with this next suggestion. While you may not be cooped up in a cubicle, it’s all too easy to stay stationary for longer than is good for you when working on a laptop. This extension aims to change that.
Stretchclock is a “professional break reminder for desk warriors.” The configurable timer runs in one of your browser tabs and reminds you to stretch at set times that suit you. When the StrechClock countdown timer reaches zero, it shows you easy “no-sweat” exercises that you can do at your desk, even if you’re wearing business attire. You can choose how many exercises you want to do each time from just a few simple stretches to half an hour yoga-style work-friendly workouts.
It’s a fab way to remind yourself to stay active and help prevent back issues and repetitive stress injuries while working from home.
For a free tool, Nimbus does A LOT of really useful things that over a million people are very grateful for on a daily basis. We recommend checking the extension out in detail, but for the sake of this article, we’re focussing on the extension’s ability to help you quickly and easily capture images and videos of your computer screen.
If you’re trying to collaborate remotely with colleagues while working from home it can be difficult to get people to understand instructions over the phone alone. Visuals are an essential part of explaining processes or instructions. Nimbus lets you capture whole or partial screenshots. You can then use the tool to add graphics, such as arrows and stickers, text boxes, highlight text, and blur out areas you don’t want to be seen before you send it to a workmate.
Similarly, Nimbus allows you to record video from your screen to make a screencast, so you could easily “show” someone how to do something without having to fuss with remote access set-ups. This is particularly useful if you work with people in different timezones to you.
If you’re Team Microsoft, as most workplaces are, this handy extension offers you quick and convenient access to Office content and services from your browser bar.
The Office browser extension is a free extension made especially for Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome. Simply click on the Office icon and you’ll instantly see one-click access to your favorite online apps, such as Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Outlook, as well as the documents you’ve most recently had open. This means you can quickly jump back into documents to continue working on them, a useful productivity hack for all Office users.
We’d recommend anyone and everyone installs Grammarly to their Chrome browser, regardless of where they’re working. It’s such a marvelous free tool that can make a huge difference to the quality of the written content you produce.
As Grammarly states, misspellings and grammatical errors can affect your credibility. Reduce that risk with this extension that will automatically correct your text in Gmail, Google Docs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, WordPress, and across millions of other sites. It will underline words that are spelled incorrectly in red, and also flags grammatical errors, misuse of punctuation, and even analyze how concise your writing is.
If you set up a Grammarly account, you can get a personalized writing report each week to help you track your progress and identify improvement areas.
Image: auto text expander 2
If part of what bugs you about your job is the repetitive nature of some of the things you have to type often, we can help.
Auto Text Expander 2 is a nifty tool that helps you easily create custom keyboard shortcuts to expand and replace text as you type. While online services like Gmail let you create email templates and can analyze what you’re typing and automatically suggest additional text, this tool takes things a step further in that you can program it to add email addresses, company names, even complete sentences to be automatically added to your online content all over the Internet.
For example, you could create a shortcut that would mean typing “mc@” appearing in your document as “[email protected].” You can use Auto Text Expander 2 to create up to 510 such keyboard shortcuts to suit your needs and save your time — and sanity.
Not everyone will benefit from all of these Chrome extensions, but if some tools help some work-from-home warriors, we’re happy to have helped.
Obviously the Office- and Zoom-themed extensions are only going to be of use to those that use those services, but others, like Grammarly, Momentum, and Minimalist Notepad will help anyone who works from home on a personal computer. Wellbeing is just as important as productivity, if not more so, so do also consider the installing the StretchClock – Break Reminder and Office Yoga extension. Having a physical and mental break from your laptop screen is essential to staying well while you’re staying home.