More Quick Tips for Working from Home

Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves
Episode #384

The pandemic has many of us working from home, and it appears working from home is becoming the new normal. So, since I’ve been doing this for three decades already, here are a few quick and easy tips for getting more work done in less time when you work from home.

Prevent Unnecessary Interruptions

Interruptions are the enemy of productivity. Fortunately, your Macs and iDevices include Do Not Disturb mode, which disables notifications, alerts, and incoming calls. I strongly recommend enabling it on all of your devices when there’s work to do.

On your Mac, click the Notification menu on the right end of your menu bar; click the Notifications tab at the top of the pane and scroll down to reveal the Do Not Control on/off switch. When you turn it on, Do Not Disturb is enabled until the next day, so don’t forget to turn it off when you’re through working. An even faster and easier way to enable Do Not Disturb until tomorrow is to hold down the Option key and click the Notification menu. Either way, the Notification menu icon is black when Do Not Disturb is off and gray when it’s on.

macOS Catalina's Do Not Disturb off (left) and on (right).
macOS Catalina’s Do Not Disturb off (left) and on (right).

On your iPhone, swipe to reveal the Control Center and then tap the little crescent moon icon to enable Do Not Disturb. Or, press and hold the crescent moon icon to see options for turning Do Not Disturb off automatically: after 1 hour, this evening, or when I leave this location. If you have an event on your calendar at this moment, you’ll also see a fourth option—until the end of the event—with the event’s name and time.

Press and hold the crescent moon icon to see these options.
Press and hold the crescent moon icon to see these options on your iDevices.

If you find Do Not Disturb too draconian, you can turn off notifications for specific apps in System Preferences->Notifications on your Macs or Settings->Notifications on your iDevices. This pane offers more granular control over notifications for individual apps, so you can choose the banner or alert notification styles, enable sound for this app’s notifications, and enable or disable the numeric badge on some apps’ icons.

Share the Clipboard Among Devices

Moving right along, another feature I find incredibly useful is the Universal Clipboard, which lets you copy text, images, photos, or videos on one device and then paste it on another device. It’s part of the Continuity suite (Handoff, Continuity Camera, etc.), which requires both devices to be connected to the same Wi-Fi network; have Bluetooth enabled; be within a few feet of each other. It’s convenient to copy something on the first device and paste it on the second, and faster than pasting that something into an email or text message and then sending it to myself to use on the other device.

Go Analog

Last but not least, never underestimate the power of hanging an old-fashioned analog sign on your closed office door. Mine says, “Enter at your Own Risk,” on one side and “QUIET—Recording in Progress” on the other. It cost next to nothing and works great.

This reversible sign helps me reduce interruptions when I'm working.
This reversible door sign reduces interruptions when I’m working.

2 thoughts on “More Quick Tips for Working from Home

  • I agree about the Prevent Interruptions. When I’m writing and I get in the groove I can go for an hour or two easy. The last thing I want is an alarm for something to break my train of thought. Which is why I just laugh at those Apps that are supposed to help your creativity by interrupting you to take a break every 20 minutes. They are the dumbest idea ever.

    1. I disagree about the timers. I am 65 years old and need to stretch and not be sitting at least every 30 minutes or so. If I’m in the zone and hot to continue, I take a quick drink of water, stretch for a couple of minutes, and dive back in. Otherwise, I work on a different task for the next 30 minutes.
      Either way, avoiding interruptions is definitely key.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.