All across the globe, employees are being asked to work from home. That doesn’t mean it has to be difficult, as you can refine your home setup to mirror your office. Having the right tools is the best way to work efficiently and reduce your daily stress levels. Here’s a look at the best tips for Mac owners working from home.
Your iPad as a Secondary Display
If you spend your days in an office, you likely have a monitor that helps you multitask with ease. At home, you might find yourself struggling to have all of your open windows on a smaller display. Your iPad can come to the rescue and help you out with this.
For anyone using a MacBook from 2016 or later, your iPad can connect to the computer and use the Sidecar feature. To enable this wired or wireless feature, click the AirPlay button on your Mac menu bar that looks like a square with a triangle underneath. Now choose the option to connect to your iPad.
That’s it. Your iPad should now show as an extension of your Mac desktop. You can move windows over as you would any other monitor. You can also mirror your Mac display to show the same content. To do that, go back to the AirPlay drop-down on the menu bar and choose the option to mirror your display.
Manage Your Notifications
The last thing you need while figuring out your remote workflow is an avalanche of notifications. Some of them might be useful as you start to see calendar and email notifications, but there is likely a lot of unnecessary noise.
To put a stop to a seemingly endless barrage, head over to System Preferences and then to the “Notifications” section. On this screen, you can choose to keep or lose the badges and sounds for all app notifications. You can also opt to leave the sound on but turn off banner pop-ups. Total flexibility exists for nearly every installed app to help find some peace and quiet.
Sure, it may be time-consuming to manually set notifications for every app, but the payoff can be wonderful. And if you ever need a quick break, hold down the Option key (Alt key on some external keyboards) and click on the Notification Center icon at the top right of your screen.
Screen Time Will Help You Take Breaks
Screen Time is a massively underappreciated app on the Mac, as it’s a fantastic tool to help you manage your time and force you to take mental health breaks.
To activate Screen Time, open System Preferences and click on “Screen Time.” Your initial view is a bunch of stats that remind you how long you have been working and in what applications. You want to focus on the options on the left for “Downtime,” “App Limits” and “Communication.”
For the former, Downtime will allow you to disable every app except those you wish to keep running. If you want to only allow FaceTime during Downtime, you can set that up. App Limits works in a similar fashion. In this case, you can hit the “+” button and choose an app you want to restrict. This is a good way to force yourself to not play games on your computer all day.
Communication is a good way to restrict who can contact you at any given time. By default, everyone is enabled, but you can set it up so only your phone contacts can get through. Alternatively, you can set it up so only select contacts can reach you. This is a great way to give yourself a healthy break from work while still allowing your friends and family to reach out.
Split View for Multitasking
When you need to be focused and get work done, Split View can help. To enable two windows side by side, click on the green circular button near the top left of any application window on the Mac. When you press and hold the button with your mouse, a drop-down appears.
Three options are offered, including going into full-screen mode, another helpful solution, or moving the window to the right or left of the screen. Upon choosing one side, the opposite side of the screen immediately shows you all of the currently open apps on your Mac. Choose one of these apps to open on the opposite side, and you are multitasking. This is a great way to keep a browser open next to a spreadsheet, word document or PowerPoint.
Alternatively, try to not multitask throughout the day. Focusing on one task at a time might be exactly what you need to meet a deadline, finish a presentation or prepare for a big meeting. Studies have shown that multitasking can actually harm your productivity, so while it can be helpful in some cases, in other instances, it’s actually doing you more bad than good. Ultimately, it’s important to remember that when it comes to multitasking,
Reminders Will Keep You on Task
Apple’s Reminders app has undergone quite a few iterations and has slowly become a terrific to-do list. It’s important when you are home to quickly remind yourself of everything you need to do.
You can create any number of lists, giving them any title you want. You can easily make notes inside each task to help you remember more specific details about a call, an appointment or anything in between. The Mac view shows you a detailed view of anything upcoming should you add dates and times to reminders. You will also see a list for “Flagged” when you have critical reminders you simply cannot forget. Easy to learn and visually pleasing, Reminders is a must-use in any work-from-home environment. That it syncs with your iOS devices makes it a complete to-do list solution.
Whether you are working at home on an iPad, iMac or MacBook, it’s important to be comfortable, which is why ergonomics is so important. Sitting for long periods can take a toll on your body and your mind, so comfort is as important of a tip as the suggestion of a good macOS machine. First, start with the right desk and make sure you have one that fits your legs, knees and thighs comfortably. From a height standpoint, you might be a good candidate for a standing desk, which has shown to be healthier overall.
A height-adjustable desk can be an excellent way to “move around” during the day and remove some of the discomforts that comes with sitting all day. Last, but definitely not least important, is a great chair. The right chair can be everything in terms of comfort, so make sure to try one out. Finding one that is height adjustable and has comfy armrests and strong lumbar support is a great place to start.
Aside from your body’s ergonomics, introduce some hardware that can help keep you comfortable. Prop your Apple laptop up for better visibility and comfort with products like the Twelve South stand for a home office. Raising your laptop six inches above your niche means less neck and shoulder pain from slouching. If you have plenty of devices that need to be connected to your Mac, you may need a good docking station as well so that you aren’t constantly bending around things to plug in USB sticks.
When it comes to working from home, there are some very easy and quick things you can do to help make it feel as good or better than the office. Tips like screen time can also make sure you find time for breaks so that you don’t accidentally work morning til night. Last but not least, don’t forget to clean and sanitize your Mac regularly, since you will be working on it most of the time.