It's hard to balance the demands of work with your private life, especially if you have a 24/7 internet business. But it can be done, all you need is some faith in technology and a smartphone full of applications.
There are a huge range of mobile and web-based tools to help the mobile and home worker achieve a better working life balance, and stay productive while on the move.
Staying in touch
The primary function of a smartphone is to help its owner stay in touch – by voice, text or even video. Consequently, social networking applications, status and commentary tools such as Twitter, phone-based e-mail, and instant messaging (IM) have all become vital tools for the mobile worker.
When it comes to IM and social networking , there are many different platforms to choose from, including Windows Live, AOL/AIM, ICQ, Yahoo, Sametime, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google Talk, and Twitter, and each have their own merits. Monitoring them all can be complicated, which is where aggregation tools come into their own. With an IM aggregator like Meebo or HootSuite, you can chat with people across all of the major IM and social media networks, through just one application.
Keeping up to date with your voicemail can also add extra time to your day, and if you are like most people it's often too easy to listen and delete a voicemail and then forget to get back in touch.
HulloMail is an Android/iPhone/BlackBerry voicemail and voice messaging app, which is free to download and use, and works with phones on the Three, Orange, Vodafone, O2, T-Mobile, BT and Talk mobile networks.
With HulloMail you can access your voicemails either from the app, or you can get it to forward your voicemail to your email or the Web, wherever you are in the World.
Creating a mobile office
Most phones – particularly smartphones – will allow you to read attached files. But if you want to make changes to those files you're forced to wait until you can get back to the office, or you have to wait for an opportunity to fire up your laptop, and that all eats into your precious day.
To solve this problem there are now sophisticated office and productivity applications available either on your phone via an app, or they exist as browser-based services.
These apps and cloud service offer the ability to create and share documents and presentations, organise and share calendars, manipulate images and access databases. In fact, if you can think of an office application that you use on the desktop, there is likely to be a mobile or online app equivalent.
If your preference is for apps, then Data Viz Documents to Go iPhone and Android app let you create and edit Microsoft Office documents on your phone and gives you all the functionality you've come to expect from the full version. If you prefer web then online web service Zoho gives you the ability to create and edit Office docs, and adds contact management software, invoicing, online planners and project managers along with many more applications.
Google Docs also has a collection of online tools. Its range includes Google Docs, which allows you to create and access Word/Excel and PowerPoint files online, collaborate on them with others, and share changes in real time. There's also Google Calendar, an online calendar service, that fast catching up with Outlook in the number of features it supports.
Moving your files onto online storage
Online storage is another must-have for the mobile worker. There's nothing worse than having to say to a customer "sorry the files are on the computer at work, I'll send you it when I get back to the office. "
Services such as Dropbox, Box.com, and Windows Live Skydrive allow you to use the cloud as your storage system. For example with Dropbox you just copy all your files to the Dropbox cloud, via a simple drag and drop application from your Mac or PC. You can then get full access to the files via your laptop, tablet, or your smartphone.
Remote control of your office PC or Mac
Just having the files isn't always the answer. There are certain things that you can only do on the computer in the office, which is where remote control software comes in. With tools such as GoToMyPC or LogMeIn you can get full access to your PC or Mac at work via the internet, from any device be it mobile phone, laptop or tablet.
With apps like Dropbox, LogMeIn and using Google Docs there's no need to be in the office ever again and that has to be a great way of improving your work-life balance.