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I work from home. Many of us web writers do, and we’re not alone. The number of people working remotely is on the rise. How is this possible? High-speed Internet and computers, of course, but also because of smartphones.
Yes, today’s smartphones make remote work a feasible task. I’m an Android user, and there are many ways Google’s little operating system makes working from home easier. I’ve put together a list of a dozen of them.
1. Use Android as Your Personal Assistant
Hiring an assistant is expensive. You have to pay them, train them, and maybe even factor in healthcare. Or you can turn to the machine in your pocket.
Most Android devices come with Google Now. Ask your phone a question and get an answer without opening your browser. Need to make a quick trip to UPS? Google Now can use Maps to tell you the quickest route. It also tracks the packages you’re expecting to arrive.
Google’s personal assistant isn’t the only one. The Play Store has several options, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.
Download: Google for Android (Free [No Longer Available])
2. Scan Documents Without a Printer
Printers can get expensive, and they aren’t built to last. Anything you can do to use one less can lead to savings at home.
Your tablet can’t print, but it can scan documents. An app like Tiny Scanner can turn paper into a picture or PDF.
A note-taking service like Evernote can upload a scan and transcribe the contents.
Download: Tiny Scanner for Android (Free with in-app purchases)
Download: Evernote for Android (Free with in-app purchases)
3. Dictate Notes and Write Hands-Free
Every phone comes with a built-in microphone. How else can you make calls?
As it turns out, that piece of hardware has another use. Your mobile device can double as a voice recorder. Pull out your phone, tap a button, and record your thoughts. Return to play back the audio file at any time.
This method can save you from typing too. Hit the microphone icon on your keyboard to enter words using your voice in any app. Or you can download a dedicated app like Dragon Anywhere.
Download: Dragon Anywhere for Android (Free with subscription)
4. Manage Email and Multi-Task
Reading email was one of the first tasks to make smartphones smart. This is something they’ve been doing for years. In that time, they’ve gotten better.
Inbox by Gmail is a creative approach to managing mail. Instead of digging through an inbox, you treat each letter as a to-do. When you’re done, swipe the mail away.
Most Android email clients have embraced gestures. These can make culling your inbox a quicker task from a phone than a desktop.
It helps to choose a specific time each workday to deal with email and only doing so during this time. Since your phone is portable, you can do this over breakfast (if you live alone) or while you’re on the toilet. This frees up your working hours to do other things.
Download: Inbox by Gmail for Android (Free)
5. Discover and Organize Contacts
Every mobile phone comes with a contact list, even dumb ones. But storing numbers is just the beginning. This is another area where developers have gotten creative over the years.
Apps like Contacts+ combine your contacts app with your dialer. It can also combine contact information spread out across various accounts and social networks.
Download: Contacts+ for Android (Free with in-app purchases)
Download: Truecaller for Android (Free with in-app purchases)
Download: Google Dialer for Android (Free)
6. Create or Edit Documents
Most of us don’t see much appeal in the idea of typing up a paper on a tiny touchscreen. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t folks who do. Even those of us who don’t feel creative on a phone may still see the benefit of being able to make an edit or two.
Android has plenty of office suites to pick from.
As a desktop Linux user, I can find more options on my phone than my laptop. Mind you, that doesn’t stop me from preferring to write on a laptop one bit.
But it’s nice to have options.
7. Manage Projects
Seeing a project through from start to finish takes effort. You can throw sheer grit and hours at the task, but a little planning goes a long way.
Download: Basecamp for Android (Free)
Download: Trello for Android (Free)
Download: Wrike for Android (Free)
8. Keep Up With Your Calendar and Events
There are reasons to use a good old-fashioned paper calendar. There are reasons to use a computer instead. But your phone may be the option that suits you best.
A phone is always with you, so you can keep up with events no matter where you are in the house. This can be handy when working from home and tasks have you dashing from one room to the next.
There are plenty of calendar apps floating around Google Play, but for a different approach, you don’t even have to make that much effort. Google Calendar looks more like a useful to-do list of events than an Excel spreadsheet. It comes installed on many phones.
Download: Google Calendar for Android (Free)
9. Plan Trips and Engagements
Sometimes people who work from home have to leave the house. It’s true.
Speaking engagements, book tours, and visiting clients all need a bit of planning. You’ve used a calendar app to remember the event, but what about all the places you have to be during that time? Check out one of the many trip planning and organizing apps for Android.
Goosit, for example, can make easy work of trips with many stops and reservations.
Hold on to these apps when it’s time to go on vacation. Yes, home worker, you deserve to take time off too.
Download: Goosit for Android [No Longer Available]
10. Connect to a VPN
Getting to work from home doesn’t always mean you’re your own boss. Many companies are loosening their requirements for people to come in every day. More and more traditional employees are getting the option to work from home.
Often, employees still need to connect to their companies VPN. Are you in this situation? If so, this is something you can do from an Android phone or tablet.
Download: AnyConnect for Android (Free with subscription)
11. Track Your Time
Time is money, or so the saying goes. Regardless, there are benefits to gain from keeping an eye on how you spend your time. Even when your job doesn’t make you to submit hours, you can use the data to improve your own workflow.
Download: TimePunch for Android (Free)
Download: Time Tracker for Android (Free)
Download: aTimeLogger for Android (Free)
Download: Work Log for Android (Free)
12. Create Invoices
Working from home involves making money. That’s the idea anyway. And if you’re an independent contractor, you probably have to draft an invoice at some point. That’s not something anyone taught me how to do.
Android is here to help. Apps like Invoice2Go and Street Invoice can do the job for you.
Download: Street Invoice for Android (Free)
Don’t Let Work Take Over Your Life
If there’s a downside to using a smartphone for work, this is it. When your phone is always with you, so is work — unless you put a stop to it. You need to have enough willpower to declare that enough is enough. Don’t work at the dinner table, or when you’re spending time with kids. Take the steps you need to be a mindful smartphone user.
As long as you keep reasonable hours, a smartphone can be an invaluable tool. What ways do you use yours at work, at home or in the office? Do you have any secrets to share that help you get the most out of your time? Add them to the list above!
Image Credit: Running Business From Home Office by Monkey Business Images via Shutterstock