I’ve been fascinated with the notion of productivity tools for past years. Ever since I read about implementing technology to improve your office work – and – quite possibly – enhance your quality of life, I wanted to learn more and know if better productivity tools actually do make a difference.
Here are my research on the best productivity tools out there.
Trello visualizes a project so that you know exactly what needs to be done at any moment. Using cloud technology, real-time notifications, document attachments, native messaging, and kanban-inspired architecture, Trello makes managing projects easier, smarter, and fun. Under the app’s deceptively simple board-and-card interface lies powerful engines for task tracking (calendar, ownership assignment, workflow), multi-platform support (desktop, tablet, mobile), and third party integrations (email, CRMs, document storage, etc.). Use Trello to gain optimum levels of visibility, control, and collaboration.
Pros: Sweet and simple interface. Easy to learn with drag-and-drop support. Comes with useful templates.
Cons: You need a consistent process/workflow to make Trello work.
Best For: Teams handling task-based projects, control freaks, process-obsessed individuals
Cost: Basic features are free (advanced features for business and enterprise start at US$10 per user/month)
RescueTime is headquartered in Seattle and founded in 2007. It is a web-based management tool that monitors a users’ computer usage and time spent on a site.
It is available on iOS and Android platforms. It allows users to track not just on mobile, but also on systems like Linux and Windows OS. The experience is seamless and has an intuitive user interface.
Todoist was founded in 2007 in London, England. It is a project management solution that meets the needs of a small and midsize businesses. It offers a three tier pricing scheme: free, premium ($36 per year), and business ($60 per person a year).
The benefits are that Todoist is cross-platform and has excellent features. It has natural language input and productivity reports. It is definitely a great resource for creating to do lists and getting them done.
Freedom – Block Distractions
Freedom was founded in 2015. It is a digital distraction solution and offers comprehensive support on more than just one device. It can block distractions across all devices like you Windows PC, you Macintosh, Android phone, iPhone, and tablets.
The company has three pricing model. Users who sign up can do a monthly, yearly or a forever subscription. What is nice is that once you set what sites to block, the app enforces it across all your devices, so you are less distracted.
The Noizio was launched in 2014 and it is a minimalistic sound equalizer for Mac OS X and iOS. The premise is very simple, yet effective. You increase your productivity by tuning out the thoughts in your mind or around by listening to relaxing music. You can choose from more than 30 sounds of nature to unwind and enjoy down time.
Wave (Financial Services and Online Accounting Software)
Best For: Entrepreneurs and independent workers
Manage your money like a pro. Wave is an award-winning financial software that operates on a strange business model considering its specialty: it offers all essential accounting services for free (no freemium tiering, free trials, or hidden charges). You can use Wave’s income/expense tracking, invoicing, billing, payment processing, and other accounting services at absolutely no cost.
Pros: Their easy-to-use features solve so many problems in managing a business. That’s why that millions of people around the world already use the software. You can easily customize invoices and enroll third-party services such as banks, credit cards, and payment channels.
Cons: Works best for freelancers and small to mid-scale businesses. However, there are lighter, mobile-friendly alternatives for personal finance/budget management such as NerdWallet, Mint, and Acorns.
Expert reviews from many tech publications including PC Magazine and Capterra consistently rank Asana among the best productivity and collaboration tools available on the market. That’s because this software makes it easy for teams to manage, track, and complete projects, processes, and tasks. Centralize everything a team needs to stay productive (goals, notes, to-do lists, calendars, etc.) in one readily accessible place.
Pros: Simplifies planning and goal setting. Relatively cheap (re: free for very small teams) compared to key competitors.
Cons: Dashboard and functionalities may require some getting used to/learning time compared to alternatives with better, more intuitive UI.
Best For: Small teams optimizing their startup budget
Cost: Free for teams of less than 15 members ($9.99/user per month after 15 users)
Best For: Small and large teams alike, who plan on achieving goals together.
Cost: Free Basic version (Standard Slack starts at $7 per active user/month; pricing for enterprises available)
Get everyone on the same page fast and with impact. Slack makes it easier for people to work together by simplifying how they communicate, collaborate, and create stuff as a team. Organize topics, tasks, or groups using channels where you can centralize all relevant messaging, notes, files, and tools in one room. You can then share specific channels with individuals, businesses, teams, and other stakeholders.
Pros: Robust integration capabilities with common tools and platforms such as Google Drive, Trello, and Salesforce. Multi-platform functionality (desktop, web, mobile, voice/video calls). Drag-and-drop file sharing.
Cons: Basic version has limited search and app integration functionalities.
Organize your stuff like a world-class librarian. Dropbox gives you 2 gigabytes of free cloud storage space to keep all your important documents in one place. Sync project files such as Word documents, Sketch drawings, and PowerPoint presentations across your devices and access them anytime and anywhere you like.
Pros: A Dropbox Basic account is free. You can download free apps for your desktop computer, mobile phone, or tablet.
Cons: The free 2 GB storage can easily get filled up in no time, forcing you to shell out a few subscription dollars for more space.
Best For: Anyone who needs to manage a hefty volume of documents
Cost: Free Basic version (standard and premium packages for individuals and teams start at US$9.99/month)
Best For: Managing personal and team projects
Cost: The base version of nTask is free. Users can upgrade to the Pro version for 2.99/month.
nTask is an online task management software that helps people collaborate with team members, work remotely, and be their most productive selves. Users can create a workspace to organize their files, manage individual projects, create to-do lists and more. nTask offers project managers the ability to estimate budgets, allocate resources, and integrate 3rd party apps to help finish projects on time.
Pros: Supports all things related to project management and productivity through one robust software.
Cons: Currently lacks an active live chat feature. However, users can comment on project boards to collaborate.
Adobe Document Cloud/DocuSign
Best For: People who manage different types of contracts and agreements
Cost: Subscription to Acrobat Pro DC (US$14.99/month) grants access to standard Document Cloud services. If that’s too steep, you can still get Acrobat Reader DC for free and sign up to gain access to a free 2-GB cloud storage where you can store and interact with your PDFs.
Paper-based business processes can dampen productivity. Adobe Document Cloud enables you to make the full transition to digital so you can track, share, sign, store, and manage documents faster, with less errors, and across different channels including mobile.
Pros: Fill & Sign function is free for everyone. The paid subscription includes Adobe Send (as an alternative to using email attachments) and FormsCentral (a tool for creating, sharing, and analyzing interactive forms such as surveys), among many other features.
Cons: Standard package comes with a hefty price tag.
Best For: Teams with members in different locations
Cost: Free (business and enterprise packages available)
Learn More: Features
Millions of people use GoToMeeting because video conferencing enhances collaboration and improves the effectiveness of meetings. Use GoToMeeting to set goals with your team, engage clients, share presentations, or conduct professional-level interviews.
Pros: Free and very easy to set up online meetings.
Cons: Occasional lags and syncing problems for systems with older OS/limited computing resources.
Best For: People who regularly set meetings, events, or appointments
Cost: Basic version is free (Premium edition costs US$8 per user/month)
Setting up meetings and appointments sounds simple but it can become a bit complicated at times. Everybody has their own schedule after all and finding the sweet spot where all attendees are available can be tricky. Often, a near endless string of crisscrossing emails ensues just to identify, change, and confirm meeting details. Good thing Calendly came along with its clean UI that simplifies the scheduling process, allowing everyone to easily set the perfect time and venue to meet.
Pros: Saves time and frees you from the tedious task of proposing meeting specifics, following up, changing, and finalizing details via email. If there are 10 people from different departments or companies who absolutely need to be there, you can imagine the chaos of setting up such a meeting.
Cons: The basic version provides very limited app integrations.
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You know that feeling when you spent time using a company resource and it turned out to be a waste? One of my pet peeves in business is finding that we’ve spent valuable time and energy on something only to realize it doesn’t really add value. The Internet is full of productivity tools and gadgets that can sometimes be distracting, so I decided to gather together the best online tools tips office productivity can use. The tools on this blog have been tried and tested over time.