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So you work from the road, or would like to?
You’ll soon discover, if you haven’t already, that efficiency is key.
With slow Internet connections, intermittent power, long travel days and all the other obstacles and distractions that stand between you and getting the work done, you need to do whatever you can to make the process easier and more effective.
With that in mind, here are 16 apps, sites and add-ons that those who make a living from the road really can’t afford to be without.
They’ll help you focus better, travel more efficiently, collaborate well with others and much, much more. Let’s get into it.
Focus@Will is a godsend when you’re working in noisy environments or otherwise struggling to focus. The site boasts of a neuroscience-based approach to selecting background working music, and it really seems to work.
Rather than blasting out your favourite tunes and ending up singing along for half an hour, the site’s playlists let you concentrate harder and for longer than you otherwise would.
The free version limits the track selections and will stop playing after one hour (although it can be restarted immediately). The paid service costs under $4/month on an annual membership.
Canva is extremely useful for those with limited design skills. The site lets you quickly create professional-looking site graphics, presentations, flyers, infographics and more via a simple drag-and-drop interface.
It’s easy to use, and has a library of tens of thousands of stock images if you don’t have the perfect one yourself. Designs can be shared with others before they’re finalised.
It costs nothing to create designs using either your own photos or any of the stock pictures marked as free. Other images cost a dollar each.
If you use Gmail and don’t use the inbuilt canned responses feature, you’re missing out. There’s no need to type out the same generic emails any longer — just set up a canned response and add it to your mail with a couple of clicks.
Similar concepts exist for many desktop email applications as well, and this one tool can easily save hours by itself.
Speaking of email, there are several different add-ons you can use to make your emails and relationship management more professional.
4. Wisestamp lets you set up multiple dynamic signatures that can include social media icons and latest posts, as well as standard contact information.
5. Rapportive uses a contact’s email address to automatically display information from other channels around the web — you’ll often get the photo, full name, bio and social media activity of the person you’re mailing.
6. Finally, Boomerang lets you bring an email back into your inbox exactly when you need it, rather than just keeping it there as a reminder for weeks.
All add-ons are free for at least basic use, and operate on multiple browsers. Wisestamp works with several different email platforms, while Rapportive and Boomerang are Gmail-only at this stage.
When you’re working with others, it’s often hard to keep track of what everyone is doing and when it’s all due.
Asana is a powerful project management tool that keeps most of the complicated parts out of the way unless you need them.
Even better, there are no limitations in the free version and you only need to start paying once you’re running projects of 15 people or more.
With both Android and iOS apps to go with the web site, it’s no surprise that it’s the preferred tool of many digital nomads.
Rescue Time automatically tracks how long you spend on different tasks, from writing the next big novel to browsing cat videos on YouTube, and lets you know how much time you’re spending on each.
It’s easy to set specific goals and measure your productivity, and you’ll receive an email each week telling you just how (un)productive you’ve been.
The premium version costs $6/month on a yearly plan, and adds features like website blocking, alerts and tracking offline tasks as well.
Put like that, these apps sound incredibly dull — and yet for speeding up mundane tasks, they’re a lifesaver. Anything from a word to several paragraphs can be quickly inserted into whatever you’re working on at the time.
There are many other, more powerful features built in, but the text entry alone makes them worth the download.
AutoHotkey is free, aText has a free trial and then costs $5.
Ditto (Windows) or Flycut (Mac) make your computer’s clipboard much more powerful. Rather than just copying and pasting single items, these apps make everything you’ve copied available to paste again and again.
You can even save copied items into a group if they’re something you’ll need in the future, and sync clipboards across multiple computers.
It’s a simple concept, and should be built into every operating system — but until it is, these apps are the next best option.
Both are free!
With flight details, hotel bookings, car rentals and more all at your fingertips in a single app, it will start saving you time and avoiding frustration from the first day you use it.
It’s available on most platforms, including Windows Phone, Blackberry, Android and iOS.
XE Currency is another long-time favourite, this time for doing currency conversions quickly and easily. Add the currencies you need and sync ahead of time, then use the app anywhere you need to.
Again, there are very few platforms that you can’t find a version for.
WikiSherpa is a great little app that pulls information from Wikivoyage, Wikipedia and Open Street Maps to give you a personalised, offline travel guide.
Again, just sync the places you’re going ahead of time, then load them up when you need them (maps and all). If you don’t have a working data connection while out and about, this can be a life-saver.
Available for iOS and Android.
Finally, Trail Wallet (unfortunately iOS-only) is a useful tool for tracking your expenses across multiple countries and currencies.
Slick and easy to use, costs can be put into categories, compared to a daily budget and – importantly – exported in CSV format for use in accounting or other systems.
Having the app on your phone makes it much more likely that you’ll enter expenses as you incur them and keep up to date.
Do you have any suggestions for apps or websites?
Share in the comments below!
Dave grew up in a small town in New Zealand, which seemed like the perfect incentive to get out and see what the rest of the world looked like as soon as possible. Sixteen years later he still hasn’t quite figured out how to stop. He ditched a corporate IT career in favour of life on the road, and now writes about travel technology at Too Many Adapters and long-term travel at What's Dave Doing?
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