Productivity is everything. From completing homework to maintaining clean desk environments, productivity is the key to having a good idea of what life is all about. So why not making it easy with productivity tools for small business? Whether you’re trying to keep track of employees, track your budget or simply do real-time operations, it helps if the online world is “green” and healthy. Simply put, there are lots of computer appliances that help you mentally focus on work instead of overloading smartphone alerts and junk mail. And the best thing about productivity tools for small business? They can be picked up for FREE!
Here are free productivity tools for you!
IFTTT (If This, Then That)
Best For: Automation freaks
Learn More: Features
Optimize the potential of your digital tools. IFTTT enables you to instruct, link, and combine apps, devices, web services, and even house/office appliances in ways that dramatically boost your productivity. Using IFTTT for example, you can automatically extract photos from the latest post of your favorite blog and share these photos on your social media accounts.
Pros: IFTTT simplifies the way you can tweak small, ubiquitous programs called Applets so they will do exactly what you want.
Cons: Offers less flexibility and customization compared to main competitor, Zapier.
Best For: Same type of people who’d use IFTTT.
Cost: Free (upgrades start at US$20/month)
Improve business productivity by automating tedious and repetitive workflows. Zapier links and optimizes your apps to help you focus more on what truly matters. Use “zaps” to automate redundant, multi-step processes that utilize several apps.
Pros: Covers significantly more apps and services that can be integrated compared to IFTTT.
Cons: Free version has a limited number of app integrations and functionalities (more advanced features and capabilities comes with a price tag).
Credit: [email protected]
[email protected] builds a personalized sound profile based on the type of worker you are. It tailors productive music so you can stay focused and increase productivity. It breaks down your personality type based on the way you think, how you approach problems and how easily distracted you are. This is an ideal service for workers who work in public or open-office settings where it can be loud.
[email protected] Key Features
- Focusing music app
[email protected] Price
- Annual: $52.49/year
- Two Year: $45.00/year
- VIP: $224.99 one-time billing
Like [email protected], Tide uses calming sounds to keep you focused and alert. It provides soothing nature sounds, like rain, and is a great choice for those who swear by the Pomodoro technique. Tide can regulate how long you’re working and how long you take breaks, allowing you to be more productive for longer. It requires you to work and concentrate for 30 minutes to earn a five-minute break. This can also help with procrastination and allows you to stay fresh while working. Tide can be used to help you sleep and wake up in a more restful, natural way. Tide is a free service and has apps for Android and iOS.
Tide Key Features
- Focusing sound app
- Pomodoro technique
Todoist is one of the best time-management apps for iPhones and Android devices. For personal items that need to get done, use gestures to start new tasks and click them off when done. Todoist Business is great for teams, as you can assign tasks to co-workers, set deadlines and add details so everyone is on the same page. The company provides impressive visualization tools as well, so you can view the progress you’ve made on the various projects you’re working on.
Todoist Key Features
- Time management
- Project management
- Starters: Free
- Premium: $3/month billed annually
- Business: $5/user per month billed annually
IFTTT (Automation and integration apps)
IFTTT can be used to connect various apps and programs so all your devices are synced and working on the same page. For instance, you can use IFTTT to save new email attachments from Gmail directly to Google Drive. It can also be used to log every call you make to a Google spreadsheet. IFTTT is available for organizations that want to pursue deeper integrations with the many cloud-based services for business.
IFTTT Key Features
- App cross-compatibility
- Standard: Free
- Pro: $3.99/month
- Developer: $199/year
Zapier is an online service that connects apps you use for your business. It is similar to IFTTT, but more focused on online business applications. You can sync all of your favorite apps, such as Gmail, Dropbox and Slack. This integration saves you time as you switch between applications and lets you quickly create workflows across platforms.
Zapier Key Features
- App cross-compatibility
- Basic: Free
- Starter: $19.99/month billed annually
- Professional: $$49/month billed annually
- Team: $299/month billed annually
- Company: $599/month billed annually
Slack (Communication and collaboration app)
Slack remains a key piece of the productivity suite for small- and medium-size businesses that want a more real-time conversation with their teams. The app benefits businesses by grouping everyone (or select teams) into a chat room so that announcements, discussions or more informal chats can take place in one interface. Slack has many social media integrations. The core service is free, with paid plans offered for additional features geared toward businesses. Android and iOS apps can keep the conversation going on mobile devices.
Slack Key Features
- Basic: Free
- Standard: $6.67/user per month
- Plus: $12.50/user per month
Keep Your Inbox Clean with Unroll.me
Have you ever subscribed to an email list only to regret it later, when you realize how much spam they send you? Oh, and on top of that, you have a bunch of those kinds of emails. And, on top of that, you start to lose track of your important emails in your cluttered inbox… of course, that’s not you.
But it was me.
And while Gmail does a nice job of separating out promotional emails from your core inbox, it can still be overwhelming to see thousands of unread emails in your inbox.
And, if you use an external mail client like Microsoft Office or Apple Mail… fuggedaboutit. You can almost feel the lost business productivity viscerally.
That’s where unroll.me comes in.
This little gem of an app scans your inbox and creates a list of all your subscription emails.
From that one view, you can quickly unsubscribe from emails you don’t want anymore.
For emails that you do want,you can add them to your rollup, which consolidates the clutter into 1 daily digest instead of a bazillion random emails.
Of course, if there are some emails you still want to see individually in your inbox, you can choose to do that too.
Whatever you choose, this service is free and incredibly easy to set up. It’ll take 10-15 minutes to do your initial sort, but after that, you can say goodbye to inbox clutter and just maintain your unroll.me digest once a quarter or so (depending on your preferences).
This business productivity app is a no-brainer.
Streamline Appointment Setting with Calendly
Here’s an email thread I’m sure you’ve never had:
Me: Hi Duke, great to meet you at the event last night. Want to grab coffee next week? Shoot me some days and times that work for you and we’ll get it scheduled.
Duke: Awesome! Great to meet you too. Unfortunately, next week is tight, but I could do 9:30 on Thursday or Friday. That work?
Me: Shoot. I’m out of town those two days. How about the following week, Wednesday?
Duke: Hmm, I could maybe do 11:30…
The thread gets longer and the cumulative emails of this sort eventually clutter your inbox. But, you can’t unroll them because, well, they’re real emails.
For this problem, we recommend Calendly.
With Calendly, you simply send a link to your contact, they select a time that works for them, and it books you automatically.
For example, let’s say you wanted to schedule a free, 15-minute consultation with me on how you could improve your website’s speed, performance, search, security, or optimization.
We could start an email exchange, interspersed with texts and voicemail, or, you could simply choose a timeslot that’s available from the widget below:
Calendly integrates with your Google calendar (another reason to use the G Suite!) and automatically filters out times you are unavailable, which prevents double-booking.
You can also set it up so that you only have a limited number of appointments per day, limit which days and times you’re available altogether (for instance, I don’t take appointments on the weekends), build in buffers (I require at least 15 minutes between meetings to allow for preparation and/or drive time), and more.
It’s free to use for 1 event type, and only $8/user/month if you need unlimited event types.
Honorable Mention: Zoho
In some cases, though, we’ve worked with business owners who are loathe to spend the money – because at $5/user/month ($60/user/year), they feel like it can add up. This includes instances in which you create a user for your “[email protected]” or “[email protected]” email address (for example, our “[email protected]” email address is its own user).
While it’s possible to use aliases (more on that below) to route those generic emails to specific users, there may be instances in which you want those emails going to a general inbox, so that multiple people can monitor – and respond – from it.
Back to the cost.
If your team has 10 users on G Suite, that can add up to around $600/year. While that amount is not likely going to break the bank, it’s nothing to sneeze at for many small business owners.
If that $600 stresses you out, we recommend using Zoho as your email host.
Zoho allows you to use your custom domain ([email protected]) for free for up to 10 users and it’s really easy to forward emails to Gmail, so that you can still get the benefit of using many of Gmail’s best features. If you set up a Gmail alias properly, you can even set up your personal Gmail to send emails from your custom domain (e.g. [email protected]).
It’s worth noting, though, that while you’ll save some money, you’ll lose some of the apps, features, and control you have with the G Suite. Your employees, for instance, would be haphazardly given access to different folders with their personal Google accounts, which makes account management a pain.
Given how strongly we believe limiting access is an important part of a quality website security program, we recommend making the investment early in the G Suite.
For the record, Zoho does have a whole suite of free tools for business – in fact, many more tools than G Suite – but our experience with many of them has been mixed. Still, they’re worth looking at from time to time to see if they solve a problem you’re experiencing.
Some of the most useful productivity tools I’ve found for small businesses are those that require little to no training on the part of the end user. There is an ever-expanding number of available productivity tools on the Internet as well as through some software authors. In fact, even some technology companies have taken on the task of creating a tool for us entrepreneurs to use on a daily basis.