By October 20, 2014 Read More →

Five things I can’t work without – the magazine editor

Five things I can't work without - Heather Greig-Smith, Flexible BossWorking alone as we often do, home workers like nothing better than a sneaky look at the way other people get organised!

The last contributor to this series, freelance brand strategist Greg Dillon, revealed among other things how wearing his formal client shoes affects the way he presents.

Today Heather Greig-Smith, the founder and editor of digital magazine Flexible Boss, shares a love of lists and garish pink trainers:

Like most flexible workers, my phone and my laptop are crucial tools, plus I’m partial to a large cappuccino while plugged in at the local coffee shop. They may seem a bit random, but here are my

Five things I can’t work without

1. Trello.
It’s long been a joke in my family that I love lists – in fact I’ve been known to have lists of lists. In recent years, I have slowly been convinced of the merits of online list tools, though reluctantly. All that changed when I found free cloud tool Trello. It was love at first list.

Trello allows you to have multiple ‘boards’. Each one is composed of lists with items (cards) in them. The cards can be dragged around the place, can have documents, checklists and labels attached to them, and a person assigned to a task. Lists, pimped.

At times I have multiple client projects running and this enables me to keep track of all the tiny details on each. I also work with freelancers for Flexible Boss and love the fact that you can share individual boards with people – it’s perfect for collaborating on particular things without giving away access to the irrelevant bits.

I have a production board that my remote-working sub-editor can log into and a sales board to keep track of meetings, contacts and progress. My husband and I even have a ‘home’ board so we can divide up the house and kids admin. There is a corresponding app for the iPhone that syncs automatically, meaning I can add items, edit and archive things on the go.

There are lots of apps and cloud tools that I find really useful – Last Pass for passwords and security, Harvest for time-tracking and billing, and Dropbox for file storing, but Trello is the one I rave about to friends. Ad nauseum.

2. Uplighter.

When I first set up my home office 18 months ago I decided I needed an uplighter and a bin. Without my lovely John Lewis uplighter my home office quality of life would be much lower.

Despite being in a fairly bright room, close to the window, it brightens up my desk wonderfully, making it warm and inviting. The first thing I do in the morning is turn it on. Now that the days are getting gloomier it’s more essential than ever. And the bin? Nope. Still using the floor…

Five things I can't work without - Heather Greig-Smith, Flexible Boss - trainers3. Trainers.
I like working from home but there are days when my mind is sluggish and even though deadlines are looming I just can’t make myself do any more than tinker at the edges. When work isn’t working I tend to give up for an hour, lace up my (very garish) pink trainers, and go for a run.

All I take is my house key and a bottle of water – being away from the iPhone and in the fresh air clears my head and by the time I’m back I’m feeling virtuous and ready to tackle it.

4. Large screen.
Plugging my laptop into a big screen (and using a wireless keyboard and mouse) makes a huge difference to how easy it is to work at home. When writing a news story I used to have to flick back and forth between a report/ press release and my Word document or, gasp, print off the source document.

Now my laptop acts as a second screen and I can drag documents from one to the other. It sounds like a small fix but as I usually work with far too may windows and documents open on my computer this cuts the frustration factor significantly.

5. The Pomodoro Technique.
My husband recently suggested this and it has revolutionised the way I work. Named after a tomato-shaped kitchen timer, the Pomodoro Technique was developed in the 1980s, so I’m pretty late to the party, but basically you work for 25 minutes and then stop, even if you’re in the flow, and take a five minute break. You work for another 25 minutes and then take a 10 minute break.

This may seem counter-intuitive but it makes getting back to it so much easier as I haven’t stopped at an impasse, which is what I’d usually do. If motivation slips when there’s only another six minutes on the clock it’s easy to push it through till break time.

Plus breaks are more disciplined and don’t turn into a twenty minute kettle on, washing in, tidy the kitchen extravaganza. However, when I start measuring my day in ‘pomodoros’ this will have gone too far.

work from home secrets

Heather Greig-Smith is founder and editor of Flexible Boss, a digital magazine for employers about flexible working. She also works as a freelance writer and media consultant.

2 Comments on "Five things I can’t work without – the magazine editor"

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  1. Oh, Trello! I’ve never heard of this site, but as a lister, I had to take a peek….looks so handy, thank you for the nod!