About Monty

Monty Munford has more than 15 years' experience in mobile, digital media, web and journalism. He is the founder of Mob76, a company that helps tech companies raise money and exit. He speaks regularly at global media events with a focus on Africa, writes a weekly column for The Telegraph, is a regular contributor to The Economist, Wired, Mashable and speaks regularly on the BBC World Service.

Remote Working: How to Be More Productive

Remote working should be be a doddle. Rodney Laws tells us how to make it even easier… and more efficient.


Remote working means we often have to make do without our ‘home’ comforts we take for granted in the office. You’re working without your desktop PC with everything laid out just how you want it, or your desk organized to suit your daily routine. Instead, it’s just you and your laptop, and working on a smaller laptop is a less than perfect situation. 

Workplaces are changing and working from home is a much more common prospect. There are plenty of ways you can work remotely on your laptop and keep your productivity levels high though, here are just a few. 

Use an external mouse and keyboard

Ditching your laptop’s frustrating built-in keyboard and track-pad mouse for an external pairing is a huge quality of life improvement all remote workers can appreciate. The track-pad and keyboard on laptops are generally of lesser quality, especially on compact models. They can’t offer the same level of dexterity, hampering your working experience and forcing you to make compromises. These features may be useful when you’re literally using the laptop on your lap, but they feel unnatural and difficult when working at a desk. 

Invest in a good quality mouse and larger keyboard, they’re much more convenient options for getting substantial work done. Your typing speed will improve and your frustration levels will drop. A key part of successfully working remotely is replicating your most productive working condition, this classic pairing is essential to achieving that. 

Use a second screen

You never know just how important a second screen is until you get one. Just like a mouse and external keyboard, this is a quality of life improver you can’t afford to skip out on. 

Laptop screens are conventionally small and less likely to display all of the information a remote worker needs to see at once. Whatever your profession, chance are you need to keep track of a couple things at once, whether it’s research notes you’re writing from or multiple stats for a report. Jumping between windows and tabs just isn’t conducive to this kind of work. With a second screen, you can just simply turn your head. You’ll notice an immediate change in your productivity levels and find yourself with some extra time left over for other projects. 

If you’re a bit of a technophobe, this StarTech guide teaches you the difference between port styles so you can get your laptop hooked up to a display device without connection headaches. 

Adjust lighting

Just because you’re not working on your usual computer set up doesn’t mean your eyes should suffer. Eye-strain is a common ailment for office workers who spend a lot of time in front of a screen, and how well lit your screen is has a huge effect on that. If you’re working on a screen that’s too bright or too dim you could be hampering your productivity and doing permanent damage to your eyes. 

Before you start working for the day, make sure your screen brightness is adjusted to suit the lighting in the room. You should always aim to work in a well-lit room with plenty of natural light. Compensating for a dark room by turning the brightness up to its maximum will do more harm than good and slow you down in the long run. If you’re worried your battery will suffer from keeping the brightness turned up, make sure you’re working somewhere where you can keep your laptop charging permanently. 

Update all your software

Nothing will bring your productivity coming to a screeching halt faster than a slow laptop burdened with outdated software. To make sure you get as much done away from the office as you would do in it, spend some time the night before making sure all the software on the laptop is up to date and functioning properly. 

At some point, we’ve all told a software update ‘not now’, usually for a couple of months in a row. This is the time to accept that update though and make sure your laptop is in the best condition possible. It’ll save you slapping the poor thing out of frustration next time it freezes during a download. 

Block remote working distractions

Just because you’re working at home or in the hotel doesn’t mean you should be browsing Facebook every 15 minutes. Breaks are important, but distractions aren’t the same as breaks. You’re supposed to look away from the screen!

Set limitations for yourself, or, if you can’t control yourself it might be time to look into apps that block distraction websites, such as the ones listed here. There’s no reason for productivity to drop just because you’re out the office and no one is looking over your shoulder. You’re only giving yourself more work to do later anyway. 

Take a break 

Not the most groundbreaking advice, but it’s just as important to take breaks frequent breaks when working at home as it is in the office. The more breaks you take the less likely to get distracted you become. 

Take some time away from the screen and stand up to stretch your muscles. Take advantage of the fact you’re working remotely with a laptop and move around a bit. You aren’t confined to your desk and can work wherever you want, so work in bed, work in the coffee shop or do a couple of hours outside if you need to. Find what suits you and vary it up. 

Remote work can be exciting, but it comes with its own challenges to remain productive. These features should make it as easy as possible to work to your high standards on your laptop. 

FIVE GOLD GIFTS: 3Doodler Create+ Pen

3Doodler Create+ is an amazing product that turns doodles into real things.

3doodler3Doodler Create+is an excellent 3D printing pen that will appeal to artists, hobbyists and DIY fanatics of all ages.

For those of us with more years under our belt than we care to admit, the idea of a pen and plasticine being able to produce tangible products is as futuristic as it gets and I suggest it won’t be just young people who will be using this magical little device.

I have no real idea of who its competitors may be and how it stands up against them, but this all about instant gratification and 3D printing that turns doodles with a pen into a multi-colored substance of pure fun.

Plug it in, heat it up, load the plastic and with a push of button, users can draw on paper and in 3D with plastic that will harden in seconds. It’s like a Christmas miracle that lasts all year round.

For those who care about such things, it comes in three colors, Marine Blue, Camouflage Green and Artic White, but it doesn’t make much difference. It feels like a fat pencil and is initially unwieldy, but the user quickly gets used to it. What was initially wobbly becomes firm, rather like the plastic that come with it.

There are fast and slow functions and the plastic comes out according to those settings. Beginners should start with the slow function and then move on to the faster button. By double-clicking the buttons makes the plastic come out and after some time, the modus operandi is a doddle for even the youngest doodler.

On a personal level, I don’t think I will ever an expert or feel as if I am one of the founding members of a.new Arts & Crafts movement, but this is a very fun product and one I’m sure to use again.

FIVE GOLD GIFTS: Tranya Rimor Wireless Headphones

Tranya Rimor wireless headphones provide an awesome auditory experience.

tranyaTranya Rimor sounds like a minor city in Transylvania, but is the brand name of an high-quality pair of wireless headphones.

Like many of its competitors in a crowded market, the Rimor has all the usual specifications to make listening to music and making phone calls an excellent experience.

Rimor uses a 10mm nano-ti coated dynamic driver to reproduce highly accurate and rich sounds. It apparently creates three times more detail than a typical 6mm driver, which prevent distortion.

With built-in industry-leading Realtek audio codec technology, it ensures high-speed transmission with significantly reduced latency and Rimor’s refined design with passive noise reduction blocks most background noises.

Both earbuds are easy to ‘install’ in the ear and left/right earbuds can be set to mono mode and stereo mode. This design also ensures better connectivity with both left/right earbud communicating with devices at the same time.

The Rimor supports up to eight-hour non-stop audio streaming on a single charge and the portable charging case provides four full recharges.

Retailing at around $80 (£63), they are not cheap compared to other earbuds, but the strength of quality makes this purchase an intelligent option. They are, quite literally, music to the ears and although they do fall out sometimes, especially when exercising, there has yet to be a similar product that can provide that. This website gives them a very solid 8.5/10.

Key features:

1. 10mm nano-ti coated dynamic driver (3x more detailed than a typical 6mm driver creates)
2. Realtek Bluetooth 5.0 audio codec technology (Chipset)
3. Passive noise cancellation
4. Dual-master design (it’s upgraded compared to master-slave design)
5. Up to 8-hour playtime per charge, and 40 hours in total with charging case
6. IPX5 water and sweat resistant
7. Light weight: each bud weighs only five grams
8. Type C charging
9. Fast charging: charge 10 minutes and can be used for 90 minutes

FIVE GOLD GIFTS – Tracy’s Dog Suction Vibrator

The Tracy Dog Suction Vibrator will put a smile on a lot of people’s faces this Christmas.

Father Christmas only comes once a year and when he does, he fills your stocking is a risqué phrase that many a market trader has yelled from his stall. With this gift, thowever, there is no need for Father Christmas once he’s disappeared back up your chimney.

Tracy’s Dog Unique Clit Suction Vibrator may have hidden meanings this writer will never know, but it is likely to make many wives and girlfriends less lonely this Christmas.

Tracy’s Dog focuses on clitoris-sucking vibration, not penetration. According to the company (and many woman this writer knows), 80% of the women don’t orgasm from penetrative sex, so some good market research there.

The vibrator comes in a discreet package and is made out of ‘body-safe’ silicone and features an elegant, waterproof design. Moreover, it doesn’t require batteries but instead is charged via USB; probably not a priority for users, but useful to know.

It is also a very different gift to the one previously reviewed for this section.

It works for 60 minutes(!) at a full charge and the company says it is ideal for beginners. It has ten vibration patterns and its sucking function has ten intensity levels. The company also says that it creates ‘I died and met Jesus’ orgasms; not something you usually associate with the Nativity.

Now, I can’t vouch for this product personally, but I do know women who literally swear by this product (usually at the height of their climaxes). In a time of great uncertainty, when global warming threatens us all and 2020 may bring all types of changes, it’s clear that some things will never change.

At top of that list is sex and pleasure. People always love sex and pleasure. For many people sex and pleasure is all they have, so vibrate away. Nobody wants a Father Christmas who only comes once a year. The Tracy Dog promises so much more.

FIVE GOLD GIFTS… Lumie Bodyclock luxe 750DAB

This alarm clock is not cheap, but looks good, tells the time and has a great radio

lumieThe alarm clock has changed over the past 20 years and instead of being woken by a monstrosity of bells and an unwieldy device, it’s generally our mobile phones that awaken us.

These ringtones from our phone have also changed. No longer are we woken abruptly as if we have to go down the pit, the very nature of our jobs, especially knowledge workers, is to be awoken by something more benign and chilled; something that makes us love the morning, not despise its very meaning.

So welcome to the Lumie Bodyclock luxe 750DAB, a sexy little piece of kit that looks like it comes from the future, but with a functionality that belongs to the past (in a good way).

Like all tech devices nowadays, it takes time to set it up, the four frontal buttons are a little difficult to control, but once the basics have been done, the Bodyclock really does seem as onomatopoeic as it sounds.

It’s so much nicer listening to the radio when trying to nod off to sleep, knowing that you will be in the clouds with the sheep before the radio turns itself off, it makes insomnia a stranger and that’s a very good thing.

The alarms are also wondrous. There are swatches to choose from and if you prefer falling rain and natural birdsong to bells and whistles, then your (recently awoken) dreams have all come true with a duration from 15 to 90 minutes. One tap to send to snooze.

The Lumie also uses fully dimmable bedroom lighting using mixed LEDs to mimic the colours of a real sunrise/sunset. It also has hiigh quality Bluetooth speakers, DAB radio and more than sleep and wake sounds with a seven-day alarm setting. It also claims to treat SAD and those winter blues.

It’s not cheap at £199.99, but it will last a lifetime and that will be a lifetime of dreams that are not shattered, but filled with a longing for the morning, brought alive by sounds that almost replicate Circadian rhythms. Sleep well!

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