Work-at-Home Mom Hacks: The Programs That Make My Life Easier

by - March 17, 2021

When I made the switch from working in an office to working at home back in 2018, I knew there would be a learning curve. While the change brought with it more freedom (at least to the casual observer), it also called for a lot more self-discipline.

I've shared some of the ways I stay on top of things over the last three years, focusing mostly on how to stay productive and not have things fall through the cracks when you're your only backup. Today, I'd like to share some of the programs and services that make my day-to-day, week-to-week, and month-to-month a little smoother.

These programs and/or services are my most used. Most of them I use daily. All are free or have free versions. I hope you'll find some of these helpful to your routines!

Canva - If you regularly make graphics for social media, a website, or a blog, I highly recommend upgrading to a Pro account. It's $12.95/month and totally worth it. I find a wider range of photos through Canva than I do through the stock photo sites our company participates in. Professionally, I use Canva to build graphics for social media for all of our brands, resize photos for our websites, create graphics for our websites, and create house ads. Personally, I use it for all of my blog graphics.

Adobe Photoshop & Light Room -  This is the service that I splurge on, but if you are a blogger or do anything professional that involves photos, it's a must. For $21.59/month, I have Photoshop on my desktop computer and laptop, and Light Room on my phone, which is a watered-down version of Photoshop perfect for mobile use. I se Light Room for all of my Instagram photos (plus some pretty sweet presets I got through an IG collab) and Adobe for anything else.

Gimp - This is not a program that I use daily, but it comes in handy for my end-of-the-month web work for the magazine. I use this to make images web ready. It's simpler and faster than Photoshop simply because it doesn't have all  the bells and whistles. This program is free to download.

Slack - This free program is like instant messaging but specifically built for coworkers. In addition to being accessible via internet browser and desktop app, you can also download an app for your phone (the phone app is annoying though). It's a fast way to share files, and you can also do conference calls through it.

Google Docs & Sheets - Although I do have a Microsoft Office account, I prefer Google Docs and Sheets because it keeps my computer from getting super cluttered. Plus, I can access all of those files on my phone and tablet.

Dropbox - If you routinely share large or a large number of files, this is the way to go. You don't have to worry about email storage space or firewalls. It's an easy way to share files when your team doesn't work in the same city, let alone the same office - I've only learned about this recently, but it's been a game changer. You can create and print shipping labels; you don't need a scale (although I do have one); then schedule your pick-up (or just put it in your mailbox and raise the flag like I do). If you over or underestimate your package weight, they'll reimburse or increase the charge. It's free to join.

Social Media Post Scheduler - There are a ton of these out there, and what you choose really will depend on what you're using it for. We use Zoho Social for the magazine (it's part of a broader package we have), but I've also worked with HootSuite and TweetDeck (I can't remember what we used at the TV station but it was solely for news organizations so it doesn't really fit here). Here's a list of 22 top-ranked programs, including Zoho Social, which is actually a really nice platform.

Automated Email Service - A good chunk of what I do on a daily basis revolves around email. Thankfully, there are a bunch of programs out there that allow you to schedule ahead and/or do email blasts to save time. We use Zoho for the magazine, which is set up kind of like an electronic rollodex, and I use MailChimp for the blog (when I remember to actually use it, ha!). Here's a list of the top 7 services out there right now.

Snovio Email Tracker - This service's name is pretty self-explanatory. I wish I'd had this back when I worked at the TV station. It's taken so much guess work out of contacting the right person, especially when a website only lists a generic email address that we all know no one is diligently monitoring. There are paid plans, but from what I can tell you can pretty much extend a free trial indefinitely. At least, I haven't had to pay anything yet.

Are you a work-at-home mom? What programs or services make your day easier? Leave your recommendations in the comments!

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