During COVID-19, more people have been working from home than ever before. With virus cases now cresting a second wave in many countries, and winter ahead, many offices will remain closed. Plus: Countless companies are discovering the benefits of a distributed workforce, and are planning to keep the model, pandemic or not. 

10 Remote Work Productivity Hacks for Your MacBook

Many struggled with productivity issues during the transition to remote work. How to set up a home office, stop work from encroaching on your private life, or get some peace and quiet to actually tick things off your to-do list? 

Having the right tools can make working from home much more efficient – from team collaboration apps to file sharing platforms. But your biggest asset is the computer you work on, especially if it’s a MacBook. It offers numerous inbuilt functions to optimize workflows, reduce distractions, and boost your remote work productivity. Here are 10 of the best. 

1 – Use your iPad as a second display 

If you’re used to working with a second (large) screen at the office, the display of your Mac can seem pretty small. There is an easy home office solution: If you own an iPad, you can extend or mirror your MacBook screen using the Sidecar functionality. 

2 – Enable text messaging 

Communicating with your team is crucial in a distributed workforce. One way of optimizing this process is to centralize all communication channels on your MacBook. Email, team collaboration platforms, WhatsApp, FaceTime – and even text messaging. If you have an iPhone, you can adjust the message settings to forward texts to your MacBook – and answer them more efficiently.  

3 – Harness Siri and dictation 

Thanks to natural language processing, your MacBook can understand you. Take advantage. 

Siri can act as your personal assistant – from scheduling appointments to adding to your to-do list. Another boon is your MacBook’s inbuilt dictation feature, which you can enable in the keyboard settings. Using this tool, you can dictate anything from annual reports to birthday emails – while walking around your home office or taking care of chores. 

4 – Create your own shortcuts

In the long run, keyboard shortcuts can save incredible amounts of time. From taking screenshots to bolding text, routine actions are accomplished in a fraction of a second. To speed up your individual workflows, you can program your own shortcuts in the keyboard settings. 

5 – Set up signatures 

No more printing, signing, and scanning important documents at the home office: Save time by setting up signatures directly on your Mac. 

Using either Mail or Preview, you can save your signature using your MacBook’s camera or touchpad. Once saved, you can sign any PDF in seconds. Plus, you can also use your saved signatures on your iPhone and iPad

6- Manage notifications 

Maintaining your focus is notoriously difficult when working from home. In addition to kids, pets, and partners, screen notifications are a major focus-killer. 

That’s why periodically reviewing your MackBook’s notification settings can facilitate working remotely. You can adjust which apps can display banners, notifications, previews, and sounds. This is especially useful ahead of online meetings during which you’ll be sharing your screen. 

7- Customize do-not-disturb

In the notifications menu, you can also set up automated do-not-disturb times. Rather than having to manually activate and deactivate notifications when you want to focus, you can tell your MacBook to stave off distractions during your most productive times. 

8 – Optimize your calendar use

Your MacBook’s calendar is an invaluable ally in planning your home office life. 

It allows you to integrate schedules from various accounts – from Google to Slack – and control how often they’re synchronized. You can also set up reminders and share your calendar or parts of it with family or colleagues. And if you actually get to leave your home, you can tell your calendar to remind you when to leave to get to your appointment on time.

9 – Analyze screen time

If you’re trying to optimize your home office routine, you first need to know how you’re currently spending your time. In doing so, the data from your MacBook’s Screen Time app is enlightening. From time spent in different apps to how many notifications you’ve gotten, it will give you in-depth insights into your MacBook usage. 

10 – Limit your app time 

Finally, Screen Time can also help you improve your focus and self-control. It allows you to set yourself limits for daily usage of certain apps and communication channels. What’s more, you can also schedule downtime, to make sure that you get to spend enough time away from the screen. 

Final Thoughts 

Working from home is always a productivity challenge. But with the pandemic raging on, and employers generally adopting distributed workforce models, it’s a challenge that many will have to face. 

With the productivity hacks above, you can optimize your MacBook to improve your workflows and your focus. Save time, and succeed from home. 

iLounge author Lucy Bennett

Lucy Bennett is a Contributing Editor at iLounge. She has been writing about Apple and technology for over six years. Prior to joining iLounge, Lucy worked as a writer for several online publications.