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Tools of the (remote) trade!

I have been working remotely for a few years now (three if I remember correctly).

Over time, I have started using a whole bunch of tools which I now take for granted but would make my life very difficult if one or more of them disappeared.

Recently, a friend asked me to compile a list of tools I use for a project she was doing on remote teams and I sent her the following email.

Sharing it here if anyone else finds something useful. Please comment and let me know if you use a tool you love — which I haven’t covered in my list.

1. Communications

– Slack (https://slack.com) – chat between team mates. Heavily used.
– Appear.in (https://appear.in) (quick video chats. no registration required)
– Google Hangouts / Google Meet (https://meet.google.com)
– Zoom Chat (https://zoom.us) (great video quality. Especially between timezones – limited to 40m for free sessions)
– Uber Conference (http://uberconference.com) — Good if you have people dialing in.

2. Time Tracking

– Toggl (https://toggl.com) (Tracks hours and projects which you work on and when)
– RescueTime (https://rescuetime.com) (advanced time tracker. Tracks time automatically and sends weekly report letting you know whether you are productive or not)

3. Finance

– Payoneer (https://payoneer.com) — Get paid in a virtual US / UK bank account and get converted to INR.
– Transferwise (https://transferwise.com) — Get paid in your local currency from abroad. Easily.
– Toshl (https://toshl.com) — Manages your finances, transactions, etc.
– Paypal (https://paypal.com) — Convenient. But use only if all other options are exhausted. High commissions.

4. Clocks

– Clocks on the Mac App store for all timezone needs (for Mac) (http://studiodalton.com/) – Highly recommended
– Klok on the iPhone 

Both these apps allow you to scrub a timeline changing times across timezones. Very effective.

5. Calendaring

– Google calendar is the best (https://calendar.google.com)

6. Travel

– Nomad List (https://nomadlist.com/) — Best cities to live for remote workers. Really good.
– TripIt is excellent (https://tripit.com) — Puts all your travel plans in one convenient location easily.
– LoungeBuddy (https://www.loungebuddy.com/) — Which lounges do you have access to? + Reviews.
– City Mapper (https://citymapper.com/) — Transport planning in new places.

7. Project Planning

– Trello (https://trello.com) — For light weight project planning. Very easy to learn and use.
– Jira (https://jira.com) — Mostly for software stuff. Quite detailed.

8. Notes (Collaborative)

– Google docs (https://docs.google.com) / spreadsheets (https://sheets.google.com) are excellent
– Evernote (https://evernote.com)

9. Tasks / To Dos

– Wunderlist (https://wunderlist.com)

10. Music

– Spotify (https://spotify.com) — You can get access worldwide if you have a premium account (needs US CC)
– Apple Music — Second best option if you don’t have Spotify.

11. Audio / Video

A good webcam / headphone is essential for good video calls. Don’t rely on your default laptop ones.

I use Logitech C920 (https://amzn.to/2RUpMoP)
Which comes with a great HD, noise cancelling mic as well.

Headphones any work. Though noise cancelling ones are recommended for working from noisy places.

Personally, I use Sennheiser PXC550 (https://amzn.to/2DnjXw6) but the Bose QC25 and Bose QC35s are great as well.

It also makes sense to have an external monitor if you are working from home to prevent stress and work easier.

No recommendations here. Any monitor that fits well on your table and does not stress your eyes is good.

12. Keyboards & Mice

If you are working from home, it may make sense to invest in a good external keyboard and mouse.

You can prop up your laptop on a stand. Quite economically available — such as Amazon Basic’s laptop stand (https://amzn.to/2zWbuwn)

Keyboards and mice — whatever suits you best.

I use a mechanical, TVS Gold keyboard which is responsive and nice and a Logitech gaming mouse (G102 Mouse) — I don’t play games on my laptop but the mouse is so much nicer to use.