Being able to do your work anywhere, from at your local coffee shop to in your hotel room in a foreign country, is a wonderful perk of our modern, interconnected world. And it’s not limited to a certain skill-set, either; these days, increasingly more jobs can be done using tools such as cloud storage and video chats. But working on the road is not without its pitfalls. Connect to the wrong host and you could find your computer riddled with malware, and it’s easy to have your identity stolen while you’re using public WiFi—among other things. Here are some tips to make sure you’re as productive as possible without compromising yourself or your device:
1. Get a good WiFi signal.
Depending on where you are, you might find that the WiFi signal isn’t as strong as what you’re used to. And if you’ll be attending meetings over Skype or submitting large files, you’ll want the best signal you can get. If you’ve got a smartphone or tablet, you can use an app to find the best WiFi signal around you. Just make sure you’re accessing legitimate networks, rather than something that might be a malicious hotspot set up by a hacker to steal your information! You might also be able to find a cheap data plan that’ll give you better web access; even if you’re using a computer, you can often easily share your connection from you phone to your laptop if you have a decent signal.
2. Be cautious when accessing public WiFi networks.
As mentioned above, not all open WiFi networks are actually safe for connecting to. But even when you’re accessing what you know is a legitimate WiFi network at the local coffee shop, you may not be totally safe. You want to make sure you’re not leaving yourself vulnerable to malware shared across the network, so before you connect, make sure you’ve properly configured your firewall. And make sure you don’t have Sharing turned on when you’re on a public network. This leaves an open port into your computer that could be exploited by a hacker.
3. Use a VPN.
One of the best ways to safeguard your device when you’re working on the go is to install a Virtual Private Network (VPN). This will encrypt the information that you’re sending to the websites you’re accessing (passwords, browsing history, etc.), meaning that your information is much safer from the prying eyes of hackers. A VPN will also disguise your true location by providing servers with a fake IP address, so it can be useful even on your home network if you’re worried about allowing your service provider to learn too much about you. And if you’re traveling abroad, that location-spoofing can also help you get around websites’ geo-restrictions so you can watch Netflix or access Facebook in China or whatever it is you need.
4. Set up your virtual office.
One thing that really helps you keep on top of things when you’re working on the move is to get a good workflow going. There are tons of apps and methods out there to maximize your productivity—everything from checklists to calendars and more. Some great ones to check out are Trello (to help you keep on top of projects), Slack (for messaging with various parties), and anything else on your app store’s “Productivity” list. Especially if you’re traveling, you might find it a bit difficult to motivate yourself to buckle down and work outside the office, but if you have a good system, it’ll make everything a lot easier.
5. Maximize your potential with accessories for your device.
If your job required a lot of typing, the idea of doing all your work on a smartphone might seem like a nightmare, but not if you have a portable keyboard with you. Or if you spend a lot of time on Skype calls, you might want to invest in some good headphones and a solid microphone for your laptop. If you’re a designer or you find yourself taking notes at a lot of industry expos, you may want to invest in a stylus that you can use with your tablet. These days, there are so many accessories out there for smartphones, tablets and laptops that you really can get the most out of your device.
+1 Back up your work!
One thing I can’t stress enough is how important it is to back up your work when you’re on the go. There are a thousand disasters that could happen. Someone could spill coffee on your computer, you could drop it, it could get stolen while you’re on the train, etc. Don’t incur setbacks because you lost all your work when something happened to your device! There are a lot of great cloud backup services out there that you can use, and not only will they allow you to safeguard your work against possible future problems, but they may also let you share your work between devices so that you can work on your tablet one time and your laptop another time.
Where’s your favorite place to work? What other tools do you use to get the job done? Or do you have any other advice for our readers? Share your own tips below!
Treatment for acne depends on how severe it is. It can take several months of treatment before acne symptoms improve.
The various treatments for acne are outlined below. You can also read a summary of the pros and cons of the treatments for acne, allowing you to compare your treatment options.
If you just have a few blackheads, whiteheads and spots, you should be able to treat them successfully with over-the-counter gels or creams (topical treatments) that contain benzoyl peroxide.
Treatments from your GP
See your GP if your acne is more widespread, as you probably need prescription medication. For example, if:
you have a large number of papules and pustules
over-the-counter medication hasn’t worked
Prescription medications that can be used to treat acne include:
in women, the combined oral contraceptive pill
If you have severe acne, your GP can refer you to an expert in treating skin conditions (dermatologist). For example, if you have:
a large number of papules and pustules on your chest and back, as well as your face
A combination of antibiotic tablets and topical treatments is usually the first treatment option for severe acne. If this doesn’t work, a medication called isotretinoin may be prescribed.
Hormonal therapies or the combined oral contraceptive pill can also be effective in women who have acne. However, the progestogen-only pill or contraceptive implant can sometimes make acne worse.
Many of these treatments can take two to three months before they start to work. It’s important to be patient and persist with a recommended treatment, even if there’s no immediate effect.
Topical treatments (gels, creams and lotions)
Benzoyl peroxide works as an antiseptic to reduce the number of bacteria on the surface of the skin. It also helps to reduce the number of whiteheads and blackheads, and has an anti-inflammatory effect.
Benzoyl peroxide is usually available as a cream or gel. It’s used either once or twice a day. It should be applied 20 minutes after washing to all of the parts of your face affected by acne.
It should be used sparingly, as too much can irritate your skin. It also makes your face more sensitive to sunlight, so avoid too much sun and ultraviolet (UV) light, or wear sun cream.
Benzoyl peroxide can have a bleaching effect, so avoid getting it on your hair or clothes.
Common side effects of benzoyl peroxide include:
dry and tense skin
a burning, itching or stinging sensation
some redness and peeling of the skin
Side effects are usually mild and should pass once the treatment has finished.
Most people need a six-week course of treatment to clear most or all of their acne. You may be advised to continue treatment less frequently to prevent acne returning.
Topical retinoids work by removing dead skin cells from the surface of the skin (exfoliating) which helps to prevent them building up within hair follicles.
Tretinoin and adapalene are topical retinoids used to treat acne. They’re available in a gel or cream and are usually applied once a day before you go to bed.
Apply to all the parts of your face affected by acne 20 minutes after washing your face.
It’s important to apply topical retinoids sparingly and avoid excessive exposure to sunlight and UV.
Topical retinoids aren’t suitable for use during pregnancy, as there’s a risk they might cause birth defects.
The most common side effects of topical retinoids are mild irritation and stinging of the skin.
A six-week course is usually required, but you may be advised to continue using the medication less frequently after this.
Topical antibiotics help kill the bacteria on the skin that can infect plugged hair follicles. They’re available as a lotion or gel that is applied once or twice a day.
A six- to eight-week course is usually recommended. After this, treatment is usually stopped, as there’s a risk that the bacteria on your face could become resistant to the antibiotics. This could make your acne worse and cause additional infections.
Side effects are uncommon, but can include:
minor irritation of the skin
redness and burning of the skin
peeling of the skin
Azelaic acid is often used as an alternative treatment for acne if the side effects of benzoyl peroxide or topical retinoids are particularly irritating or painful.
Azelaic acid works by getting rid of dead skin and killing bacteria. It’s available as a cream or gel and is usually applied twice a day (or once a day if your skin is particularly sensitive).
The medication doesn’t make your skin sensitive to sunlight, so you don’t have to avoid exposure to the sun.
You’ll usually need to use azelaic acid for a month before your acne improves.
The side effects of azelaic acid are usually mild and include:
burning or stinging skin
redness of the skin
Antibiotic tablets (oral antibiotics) are usually used in combination with a topical treatment to treat more severe acne.
In most cases, a class of antibiotics called tetracyclines is prescribed, unless you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
Pregnant or breastfeeding women are usually advised to take an antibiotic called erythromycin, which is known to be safer to use.
It usually takes about six weeks before you notice an improvement in your acne.
Depending on how well you react to the treatment, a course of oral antibiotics can last four to six months.
Tetracyclines can make your skin sensitive to sunlight and UV light, and can also make the oral contraceptive pill less effective during the first few weeks of treatment.
You’ll need to use an alternative method of contraception, such as condoms, during this time.
Hormonal therapies can often benefit women with acne, especially if the acne flares up around periods or is associated with hormonal conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome.
If you don’t already use it, your GP may recommend the combined oral contraceptive pill, even if you’re not sexually active. This combined pill can often help improve acne in women, but may take up to a year before the full benefits are seen.
Co-cyprindiol is a hormonal treatment that can be used for more severe acne that doesn’t respond to antibiotics. It helps to reduce the production of sebum.
You’ll probably have to use co-cyprindiol for two to six months before you notice a significant improvement in your acne.
There’s a small risk that women taking co-cyprindiol may develop breast cancer in later life.
For example, out of a group of 10,000 women who haven’t taken co-cyprindiol, you would expect 16 of them to develop breast cancer by the time they were 35. This figure rises to 17 or 18 for women who were treated with co-cyprindiol for at least five years in their early twenties.
There’s also a very small chance of co-cyprindiol causing a blood clot. The risk is estimated to be around 1 in 2,500 in any given year.
It’s not thought to be safe to take co-cyprindiol if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. Women may need to have a pregnancy test before treatment can begin.
Other side effects of co-cyprindiol include:
bleeding and spotting between your periods, which can sometimes occur for the first few months
loss of interest in sex
weight gain or weight loss
Isotretinoin has a number of beneficial effects:
it helps to normalise sebum and reduce how much is produced
it helps to prevent follicles becoming clogged
it decreases the amount of bacteria on the skin
it reduces redness and swelling in and around spots
However, the drug can also cause a wide range of side effects. It’s only recommended for severe cases of acne that haven’t responded to other treatments.
Because of the risk of side effects, isotretinoin can only be prescribed by a specially trained GP or a dermatologist.
Isotretinoin is taken as a tablet. Most people take a four- to six-month course. Your acne may get worse during the first 7 to 10 days of treatment. However, this is normal and soon settles.
Common side effects of isotretinoin include:
inflammation, dryness and cracking of the skin, lips and nostrils
changes in your blood sugar levels
inflammation of your eyelids (blepharitis)
inflammation and irritation of your eyes (conjunctivitis)
blood in your urine
Rarer side effects of isotretinoin include:
inflammation of the liver (hepatitis)
inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
Because of the risk of these rarer side effects, you’ll need a blood test before and during treatment.
Isotretinoin and birth defects
Isotretinoin will damage an unborn baby. If you’re a woman of childbearing age:
don’t use isotretinoin if you’re pregnant or you think you’re pregnant
use one, or ideally two, methods of contraception for one month before treatment begins, during treatment and for one month after treatment has finished
have a pregnancy test before, during and after treatment
You’ll be asked to sign a form confirming that you understand the risk of birth defects and are willing to use contraceptives to prevent this risk, even if you’re not currently sexually active.
If you think you may have become pregnant when taking isotretinoin, contact your dermatologist immediately.
Isotretinoin is also not suitable if you’re breastfeeding.
Isotretinoin and mood changes
There have been reports of people experiencing mood changes while taking isotretinoin. There’s no evidence that these mood changes were the result of the medication.
However, as a precaution, contact your doctor immediately if you feel depressed or anxious, have feelings of aggression or suicidal thoughts.
Several treatments for acne don’t involve medication.
comedone extractor – a small pen-shaped instrument that can be used to clean out blackheads and whiteheads
chemical peels – where a chemical solution is applied to the face, causing the skin to peel off and new skin to replace it
photodynamic therapy – where light is applied to the skin in an attempt to improve symptoms of acne
However, these treatments may not work and can’t be routinely recommended.