Author: M.Kok

Productivity tools for remote work

Working from home, or any other place you like has become the new standard. Most of the data we have shows a massive improvement in worker satisfaction and a significant increase in productivity. But the concept is still new, and there are always ways to make something good even better. One of such ways is to use tools. 

Here is a list of productivity tools that might help you to make working remotely even more effective.

What is a productivity tool?

‘Being Productive’ is one of these terms that gets thrown around often and loosely, but the meaning can vary from person to person.

This article aims to introduce productivity tools that help you with automatization (Zapier, IFTTT, Apple shortcuts), communication (join me, Krisp, Discord), staying focused(Forest, Engross, Serene, Stay focused), and time tracking(toggl, doodle).

For the sake of productivity, the most common communication and management tools are not on the list. Because the chances are that you will be using whatever the company is using already(zoom, google, slack, etc.).

The list


These tools should help you with routine tasks like sending a confirmation email, turning on the radio or recording a meeting.


‘If this then that’ or IFTTT helps you with creating automated sequences like reminding you of an upcoming meeting by pulling all the details from google calendar and composing a list of participants in your preferred communication app. Or starting the morning news the moment you turn off your alarm clock or play dramatic music when you use the snooze button.


Like IFTTT, but with emphasis on business apps. Many small businesses and startups that ship goods use this tool. 

Apple Shortcuts

Like IFTTT, but for Apple products. Arguably one of the more intuitive automatization tools. 


Most likely, you are already using Google Meet or one of the other dominant communication apps. Here are some alternatives.


It is on the list because it just does not get enough appreciation. 

Discord has all the features such as file transfer, bots to automate tasks, video chat, message pinpoint, screen share, different chat servers and channels, dark mode and much more.

Probably one of the best, if not the best, communication apps.‘ Lets you have meetings without having to install or download anything. You still get all the functions like scheduled meetings, screen share and recording. The main selling point of the app is its user-friendly design. 


Krisp is a noise-cancelling app. You can use it to have a meeting in a coffee shop or even outside. It works with all the communication apps and hardware(earphones, microphones). The powerful AI shuts out all the background noise so that your voice will sound ‘crisp’. 

Staying focused

These tools help you to stay away from distractions and aid your focus. 


StayFocused is a browser app that blocks websites. You can decide on a time frame and the content that gets blocked. Like, have your favourite social media site blocked during your work hours.


Engross is basically a Pomodoro timer. The ‘Pomodoro Technique’ takes its name from the vegetable shaped kitchen timers. The idea is to work in intervals of twenty-something to thirty minutes, followed by short breaks to increase concentration. 

Engross lets you set your own intervals, and whenever you get distracted, there is a button you can hit so that Engross can track the times your concentration is the lowest. 


Serene blocks apps and silences your phone. You can use it for to-do lists, as a break timer or have it play music to aid your focus.


Forest has probably one of the most unique and effective mechanisms. You get it on your phone, and then you ‘plant’ a tree. 

If you play with your phone before you have completed your task, the tree dies. Since no one wants to be a tree killer, it works. Eventually, one tree turns into many, and you have a forest.

Forest also gives you rewards like different tree species and relaxing audio.

And the best is that forest has teamed up with Trees For The Future so that users can plant real trees once they have enough in-game currency.  

Time Tracking

These tools help you to track the time you have spent working or on a specific task. 


A time tracking app. You can see how much time you have spent and on which tasks. It also has a feature to track billed hours- ideal for freelancers.


‘Doodle’ helps you overview the schedules of all the team members. so that you can build in meetings in the gaps of a busy workday. It syncs with all the popular calendars. It has automatic reminders and timezone recognition. 


Ideally, you would stay focused and remember to do everything at the right time. But things rarely ever turn out that well. Hopefully, the list of tools helps you to do more- better.

 If you do not like any of the apps or think they/some are unreasonably priced, you can always revert to the fundamentals and use what people have used for centuries something to write with(pen) and something to write on(paper) and your wit.

Common frustrations of IT specialists in Japan (Part 2)Prev

Japan Vaccine passportsNext

Related post

  1. Author: M.Kok

    What is the average rent across Japan?

    What are the rent prices like acros…

  2. Author: M.Kok

    The state of this year’s Japanese winter bonus

    In Japan, not just Christmas comes …

  3. Author: M.Kok

    The future of remote working in Japan

    Even in situations that seem inhere…

  4. Author: M.Kok

    Tech Trends to Watch for in 2021

    It is not easy to predict job marke…

  5. Author: M.Kok

    What is Furusato Nozei(ふるさと納税)?

    Would you like to get free* stuff t…

  1. Author: Valerie

    Popular Apps in Japan
  2. Author: Cameron

    Converting a foreign driver’s license to…
  3. Author: Bill

    [Blog] Getting a Job in Japan – Th…
  4. Japanese for Work Videos

    Ask Some Questions! – Video Quiz
  5. Author: J.J.

    How to Extend Your Japanese Visa Part II…