Did you know that 70% of employees in the US do not feel fully engaged in the workflow? They browse social networks, talk to each other and procrastinate in every possible way. In other words, they prefer to do anything but work.
Fortunately, in the age of digital technology, this issue is not difficult to deal with. It is enough to use special business software that provides end-to-end task and employee management: from monitoring the productivity of each of them to providing them with optimal working conditions.
Let’s take a look at the best productivity tools that we ourselves successfully use in our work processes. These tools have helped us significantly improve the efficiency of our team.
Top 18 Best Productivity Apps to Improve Your Workflow
So, let’s see our top 18 must-have productivity tools that we can personally vouch for.
The first one on our list of best tools for agencies is HootSuite: software for SMM. It gets rid of the need to switch between multiple accounts each time and post new entries at the same time. In addition, HootSuite supports RSS integration, data export and integration with MailChimp. We love using Hootsuite to bulk schedule social media posts and save time.
Those who are already working with HootSuite enjoy a lot of advantages. For example, you can create up to 10 columns with different data on your dashboard with mentions, retweets, lists, search queries, etc. You can also view the accounts of your followers or those accounts you are subscribed to, sort them into lists, follow, or unsubscribe. HootSuite also provides Insights, a tool that automatically collects additional information about social network users based on their posts.
Pro tip: Use Hootsuite social streams to monitor important topics, keywords, hashtags to stay on track of top news and brand mentions.
It’s hard to find a working person who has never heard of Slack: the group chat for teamwork available as desktop and mobile software. This is an incredibly convenient business solution that helps you organize a coherent workflow for teams where some members work remotely. One of the perks of this software is the ability to create separate chats for each department. The option of personal correspondence is, of course, also available, as well as notifications in group chats addressed to a specific user. The ability to search message history comes in handy, too.
Slack can be integrated with popular business solutions such as Asana, Zendesk, Jira, Pocket, Dropbox, Google Docs, GitHub, etc. It also has a call function with the ability to organize video conferences in groups of up to 15 users (in the paid version). It also supports integration with bots. With such a wide range of functions, Slack becomes a powerful tool to boost team’s productivity and work atmosphere.
In addition to the standard functions, our team actively uses the following public channels:
- #team-love – this is where we thank our colleagues for their help or share cool results of our work;
- #client-love – a channel where product managers share screenshots of positive customer feedback;
- #coffee-buddies – in this channel, a bot randomly assigns you a colleague you can meet up and have a coffee with;
- #fun – a place for funny memes and everything else that can brighten up your working day.
Zoom is a cloud-based conferencing platform with the ability to record meetings in high definition (up to 40 minutes long). The number of videos is not limited. The service is available in both free and paid versions (the latter allows you to organize meetings with more than 50 participants). Zoom’s functionality also provides opportunities for collaborating on documents online, simultaneously with the conference. Zoom is perfect for webinars, product demos, conference calls, and even one-to-one meetings.
Additional features include a conference planner (with calendar integration), multi-screen video and screen sharing.
Pro tip: If you have a paid Zoom account, use Zapier to integrate Zoom with Slack, Calendly, Google Calendar, and other tools you use.
This service is designed for scheduling meetings and events. It is integrated with the previous member of our top list, the Zoom application. This service will help eliminate the need to use email address and phone number to coordinate meetings. The application also has options for setting reminders on third-party web services (in particular, your email account), creating invitation links, generating reports, tracking activity and statistics.
Pro tip: When you communicate with a lead or co-worker, you can simply send a link to your calendar free spots to make the process of scheduling meetings quicker and easier for both parties.
Toggl is a popular web service for tracking time spent on tasks. We use it to work with both small and large projects. In the latter case, we simply divide the project into subtasks. This helps to objectively evaluate the productivity of each team member, as well as understand how much time it takes to perform specific tasks.
Using this tool allows you to establish a transparent relationship between the customer and the performer, as well as improve the performance of teams. The service also offers additional tools and functions, such as reporting, distribution of access rights, importing data from other services, exporting to the .xls format, and working offline. Toggl is free for teams of up to 5 people.
Lou Levit, Reliable co-founder loves using Toggle to track time spent on tasks and analyze her productivity and the amount of time certain tasks usually take.
The Pocket software service allows you to save interesting content found on the Internet in one click to view offline later.
In addition to the main features, we suggest using Highlights: a tool that helps you find the most high-quality and interesting web resources that match your most frequent search queries. Highlights constantly adapt to the user, so over time, the mechanism of action becomes more and more perfect.
The Campaign Monitor web service will be your ideal assistant in creating bright and memorable advertising campaigns and organizing the distribution of offers by e-mail. This solution also includes ready-made templates, embedded CSS, automated email distribution, message branding, segmentation and targeting, alpha and beta testing, image hosting, RSS via email, integration with social networks, and analysis of email users’ actions.
We love Campaign Monitor for the many useful metrics available: click rates, the number of letters sent out as part of the campaign, the percentage of refusals and unsubscriptions from recent campaigns, the number of users who have not subscribed, etc.
Trello is a great project management tool that helps you streamline your business processes no matter where you are at the moment: in the office, at home or on the road.
This is the ideal solution for implementing the kanban methodology based on three elements: board, list and card. You can create boards for tasks you are working on, assign these tasks to the members of your team, set out the tasks’ priority, add checklists, share files and comments, synchronize tasks with the calendar, and work offline.
Trello’s free functionality is enough for most teams. However, besides boards, it also has the option of creating personal or business teams. Subscribing to the business version provides access to additional administration tools and more flexible privacy settings.
Pro tip: Though it might be tempting to create a huge board with all your tasks, we recommend sticking to one project per board. Trello is best as viewing the project in detail, not as a simple to-do list.
Evernote is a personal organizer where you can create and store notes. The note can be either plain text or media content, or even a full-fledged web page. Evernote allows you to sort records by individual groups, as well as export them to software solutions of third-party vendors. This is a very convenient application for those who don’t want to keep tons of unnecessary information in their heads.
The most expensive version of Evernote – Evernote Premium – opens up completely new possibilities for users. The download volume increases from the standard 60 MB to 10 GB. In addition, you can search for Office attachments and documents, present your notes, add notes to PDF files, go back to old versions of notes, and view information similar to the entered notes.
Evernote is perfect for keeping all notes, ideas, media in one place and organize work and personal info.
1password is a password manager. Despite having a lot of alternatives, this service differs from others due to its advanced encryption algorithms, the lack of its own cloud service, and licensing (instead of regularly paying for a subscription, you pay upfront for a license).
The app’s advantages include a simple and intuitive interface, and security guaranteed by the possibility to select the storage for recording passwords. For example, for better protection, the passwords can be stored on a corporate or home server on the local network, and the folder with the password file can be open to a specific group of users only. The low cost of the license is another advantage.
In general, this is a great choice for those who do not trust traditional cloud services but do not want to keep all the passwords in their minds either.
This web service for collaborative remote work is a marker board for drawing, as well as posting comments, stickers, photos, pictures, screenshots and other additional information (including media files), which is designed to help in carrying out tasks. This board is suitable for working on projects as well as for drafting designer concepts and for educational purposes.
RealtimeBoard organizes the interaction between users in real time, providing them with text, voice and video chat. It also includes features such as screen sharing, notifications of changes on the boards, and exporting boards in the format of pictures or PDF-files (including sharing them on social networks). The service can be integrated with Slack and Jira.
We recommend using RealtimeBoard to improve workflow on the project, and especially on the idea search stage – as a perfect way to brainstorm online and make decisions.
This service is designed to monitor social networks, as well as measure attendance, clicks and other important data for marketing. This is an ideal tool for SMM specialists that will help them quickly increase the number of subscribers, likes and shares, as well as reduce the total amount of time spent on performing daily SMM tasks (for example, by organizing teamwork).
Sprout Social collects demographic and contact data of Twitter followers, monitors the social activity of competitors, helps automate the posting of publications, creates reports and statistics, and all this in real time.
Pro tip: Try the Smart Inbox feature, which allows you to control every brand mention, comment, retweet, etc. and take immediate action. Perfect for organizing communication with your customers on social media.
PandaDoc is an application for generating and tracking commercial offers, creating electronic signatures, and managing the sales cycle. Using it, you can find out what actions the recipient performed with your sales proposal, even while you are away from the office. And, finally, PandaDoc has an option for sending push messages that will notify you which documents require your attention.
Pro tip: Use PandaDoc to track and analyze receival and engagement with your documents for best follow-ups.
The Loom application will take care of all the video sharing (including screen recordings). You can shoot the video and record text comments for it simultaneously, all online.
Thanks to this tool, you can significantly reduce the time it takes to explain things to other members of your team, especially if you are all at a distance from each other.
The Grammarly plugin is your spelling assistant, available in Google Chrome or mobile software format. Whatever you type in – be it a search query for Google or a letter to an important customer – Grammarly will tell you how to write it correctly. This solution works simultaneously with how you enter the text, so you do not need to wait until all the errors have been checked.
Pro tip: Install Grammarly browser extension to keep your writing clean on various websites, for example, when you write social media posts.
Teamwork Projects is another useful tool (available in both desktop and mobile formats) designed for project management and task scheduling. It is aimed to accelerate communication between departments of the company, even if the majority of employees work remotely. The application can be used by both founders of small business and the owners of large companies.
Teamwork automatically synchronizes with the calendar, helping to avoid breaking the deadlines. It also optimizes the interaction of employees working on one task (when one of them finishes working on the task, the others are immediately notified that they can start their part of the work). In addition, this software has a wide range of access settings and the function of creating private comments accessible only to specific individuals, for example, the employee who created the comment, or the head of the company.
HubSpot CRM is a CRM for small businesses that optimizes the processes of performing manual operations and, in general, speeds up the work of sales managers. The service takes care of minor tasks such as creating new contacts, recording calls and managing data, as well as collecting information about the contacts from several sources, including email and social networks.
In addition, it can be integrated with Gmail, G Suite and Outlook accounts. Thus, if one manager has already conducted a dialogue with a client, the next employee can watch or listen to what was discussed during this conversation. You can also use the task scheduler, archiver, or email tracking option, as well as a built-in tool for monitoring calls.
The Time Out app from Dejal was created in order to help you organize small but systematic breaks in your work. This will make the process of working at the computer more pleasant, minimizing the risks of physical inconveniences such as back pain or eye discomfort occurring. Unlike other similar solutions, this application works as unobtrusively as possible for the user.
Best Productivity Apps: Table of Descriptions
To make it easier for you to navigate our list of work productivity tools without having to read extra material, we have created a table that briefly describes the main features of each application.
|App name||Brief description|
|HootSuite||A web service for managing SMM promotion of several profiles across social networks and dashboards, which allows you to perform targeted actions with other users and schedule the posting of publications.|
|Slack||A corporate instant messenger with extensive file sharing, voice and video support, as well as numerous integrations with third-party services.|
|Zoom||A cloud-based conferencing platform with the ability to record meetings in high definition.|
|Calendly||A calendar for scheduling events (both for one user and for teams); integrates with Zoom.|
|Toggl||A time tracker that will allow you to optimize the execution of tasks, both for independent work and for teamwork.|
|This service is used to save online publications and read them offline.|
|Campaign Monitor||This service provides templates for creating marketing campaigns, and also allows you to monitor their effectiveness as part of an email campaign.|
|Trello||A tool for managing tasks based on the Kanban principle.|
|1password||A password manager that, in addition to cloud services, allows storing information on the user’s physical hardware.|
|RealtimeBoard||A web service for collaborative remote work, presented as a marker board for drawing, posting comments, stickers, photos, pictures, screenshots, and other useful information.|
|SproutSocial||Another service designed for monitoring social networks, as well as measuring attendance rates, clicks and other data important for marketing.|
|Pandadoc||This application is used to generate and track commercial offers, create electronic signatures, and manage the sales cycle.|
|Loom||An application for broadcasting and recording actions on the user screen, as well as instantly accompanying them with text comments.|
|Grammarly||This service automatically checks the spelling of all texts entered by the user.|
|Teamwork||A tool designed for project management and task scheduling. It also helps to evaluate the performance of departments and specific employees.|
|Hubspot||A small business CRM that automates the processes of interaction between company employees and customers.|
|Timeout||This application reminds users to take time off so that the workflow does not lose its productivity over time.|
We hope that our article helped you gain a new vision of your routine work processes and inspired you to implement new approaches to organizing your creative work as a team. Feel free to share your experience in optimizing and using your personal productivity tools in the comments.