Productivity is a function of people and processes. More specifically, productivity is about how many priority items someone can accomplish in a given period. There is, however, a third component many fail to take into account: technology. A single tool can make the difference between a project finishing in a year or a month.
In this post, we talk about tools to help you and your team: from creating a document to managing entire projects:
The Benefits of Productivity Software
Productivity software tends to be a catch-all, but more specifically can refer to time-tracking software, collaborative workflow software, automatic performance reports, and much more. Each one serves a unique purpose, so your team must experiment to discover which ones fit within their workflow.
Some of the apps listed will be better suited for individual workflows, such as the time-tracking tool, Toggl. The tools may help one avoid distractions or simply stay up to date on their workload. Other apps will be geared towards teams, such as the project management tool, Mavenlink. These tools can provide useful insights on time spent on-task and limit any bottlenecks that may arise from the process. Consult your team to discover what they are looking for in a productivity app.
The 18 Best Productivity Apps
The benefits of productivity apps range from streamlining complex tasks to be more accessible (such as quicker form filing and submitting expenses), to evaluating processes for optimization. There are also unique benefits to both mobile and desktop versions of these productivity apps, including keyboard shortcuts and push notifications.
Here are a few apps that can save you precious time and resources:
Few apps can match the elegant simplicity of the to-do list. While others have tried to create alternatives to the to-do list, Todoist embraces it entirely. Users can create multiple lists, comment on tasks, and add additional information such as due dates and reminders. Of all the options on this list, Todoist stands out with its clutter-free design and gamified approach to productivity.
Calendar (Microsoft, Apple, Google)
Today, almost every computer, tablet, or smartphone will come with a pre-installed calendar. Yet only a handful of users take advantage of the calendar app. To-do lists are best used as a master list for outstanding tasks and projects, but using a calendar can help you schedule and plan out when you will work on those tasks. In the video below, Author and entrepreneur Amy Landino discusses how you can use calendar blocking to actually get things done.
Record your screen, create a gif, or record through your webcam with CloudApp, a unique visual sharing app. Perfect for creating video tutorials and annotated imagery, CloudApp allows you to collaborate with your team in ways that few other apps can. CloudApp even lets you select the level of access other users have, customize images with company branding, and use visual search to find images more easily.
We’ve mentioned Trello a few times before, but we cannot overstate its unique take on productivity. While other apps use variations of the to-do list, Trello is the only app that utilizes the Kanban system, a combination of cards, lists, and boards that help to visualize entire projects. For visual thinkers, Trello is among the top choices for productivity.
In the space of just seven years, Slack has completely redefined our understanding of online collaboration. A cross between an IM client, an email app, and video chat service, Slack strips away the inconveniences of digital communication, from clunky interfaces to disorganized email threads. Channels allow for a clear categorization of conversations, and the ever-growing list of integrations creates a more seamless workplace experience. It’s no wonder major companies like Airbnb, Electronic Arts, and Target uses Slack in their workplace.
These days, it’s practically mandatory to develop and maintain a social media presence for your company. But the time involved in researching, writing, scheduling, and monitoring your posts would require a new hire or even a new department. Thankfully, apps like Hootsuite make it far more convenient to manage everything from a single place. The intuitive interface allows anyone to manage hundreds of social media messages across dozens of accounts, and then analyze engagement and conversations with ease.
The days of faxing, signing, and scanning papers are long gone. Apps like HelloSign have streamlined the process, so it’s as easy as dragging a signature box into the document. For companies that deal with forms, sheets, and contracts, HelloSign is an indispensable app. Amenify, a B2B network for contract management between multi-family properties and in-home service providers, reported closing sales 33% faster with HelloSign.
For those wanting to take productivity to another level, Zapier will supercharge your workflow. While certain apps specialize in checklist management or document signing, Zapier enables the communication between these apps; this makes automation accessible, even to those who know little to nothing about programming. For example, every time you complete a task in Trello, you can send a notification in Slack, and then send an automated email to your team.
We recommend reading Growth Everywhere’s list of 15 Time-Saving Zapier Workflows.
Billed as the “only truly free time tracker for teams,” Clockify simplifies the act of tracking hours across multiple projects. While other time trackers will pose as free apps, only to bombard you with ads or restrict the best features to premium users, Clockify lets you add unlimited users, view team activity, export reports without charging anything.
By now, Google’s premier cloud offering, Drive, should be recognizable to just about anyone. The service allows users to upload and store up to 15 GB of photos, documents, videos, and recordings for free. You can then access those files from your computer, smartphone, or tablet, offline, or through a web browser. Drive also simplifies sharing, allowing you to add collaborators by email address instead of downloading and attaching to an email. Whether you work solo or with a team, Drive is an excellent way to solve your storage needs.
At a high level, Dropbox and Drive seem almost identical. But digging a little deeper, it’s clear that Dropbox has a few advantages over Google’s cloud storage offering. For one, Dropbox is much faster, thanks to its block-level sync technology. Second, password-protected sharing and expiration dates allow you to add another layer of security to your documents. If you’re looking for an alternative to using a Google cloud product, Dropbox is the one to choose.
Evernote has built such a strong name for itself that most people associate it with online note-taking. But beyond writing bits of text, Evernote also allows you to capture snippets of web pages, formulate to-do lists, add images and audio, and collaborate with your team. It’s a digital notebook that you can view and edit from any smartphone, computer, tablet, or web browser.
Project planning and management don’t have to be a pain in the neck. Apps like Proofhub demonstrate that all a project manager truly needs is efficient tools and an intuitive UI. From the home dashboard, users can access a to-do of all their tasks, a calendar, bookmarks, and other shortcuts. There are also panels for announcements and statuses on ongoing projects and their due dates. Over 85,000+ businesses worldwide use Proofhub, including Netflix, Google, NASA, Nike, and TripAdvisor.
According to TraceSecurity, 81% of hacking-related breaches were the result of stolen and/or weak passwords. This can be avoided by employing stronger security measures, using robust password managers like LastPass. Each password is encrypted and decrypted at the device level, so nothing is ever stored on LastPass’s servers. To top it off, LastPass makes it convenient to sign in to any website with its handy browser extension. If your company uses dozens of accounts online, make sure your team stays protected with LastPass.
Imagine you’re on a business trip to present to an overseas client. You’ve come prepared with a flashy presentation and your smartest suit. Except only you’ve forgotten an important file on your PC back home. If you didn’t have TeamViewer, you would be out of luck. But with it, you would be able to securely access your desktop from another country. TeamViewer is useful for any situation that involves accessing or maintaining remote computers. Use it for supporting new employees, accessing a computer at home, or helping new customers with their software.
Time tracking needn’t be a complex practice. Toggl, a time tracking app, believes simple time trackers help you get more things done. With a clean, stripped-down interface, Toggl makes it easy to track not only your own time but your whole team’s as well. The in-depth reports also show you the ROI of individual projects, clients, and tasks, allowing you to plan your quarters out for maximum growth. Toggl also works on your browser, your phone, desktop, and within a web app, making sure you never forget to log your hours.
Project management apps are hit-or-miss. Even when they have a simple design or a competitive price point, if they are missing even a single important feature, most teams will search for a better alternative. Thankfully Mavenlink has it all: project management, time tracking, resource planning, team collaborations, integrations, and even project accounting. While it has plans for individuals, Mavenlink is best used for fast-growing teams that need to track multiple initiatives and projects.
Do you or your team get distracted by social media or other potentially time-wasting websites? Then you need Freedom, the aptly-titled productivity app that blocks distracting sites and apps. Download the Freedom app (available on Mac, Windows, Android, iOS, and Chrome browser), set your focus schedule daily or weekly, and Freedom will automatically prevent you from getting sidetracked by selected apps or websites. According to users of the app, Freedom saves them an average of 2.5 hours of productive time each day, amounting to a total of 10,000,000 hours in the previous year.
Productivity tools are not silver bullets— don’t expect your team’s output to skyrocket after adopting one or two of these apps. Instead, start by identifying where your leaders and team members are struggling. These tools are designed to make your business more efficient, but that is only possible when your team members are adequately trained and empowered. In other words, when you give them these tools to succeed, make sure they know how to use them effectively too.
Do you have any productivity tool suggestions that your team uses? Send us a message or comment through our social media! Follow Novel Coworking on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for more content on productivity, collaboration, and running a business smoothly.