As you run and build your business, productivity is one of the keys of success. Simply put, you have to be able to streamline your processes and collaboration activities to maximize the time spent strategizing and attracting new customers.
That’s especially true in remote work environments, which have become prevalent in the past few months. The right productivity strategy helps you optimize your time and ensure that you prioritize your activities and work with others.
An Introduction to Productivity Software and its Subcategories
That productivity strategy, in turn, almost necessarily relies on productivity software. Most businesses these days have more than one, building comprehensive platforms that enable them to manage their time, their employees time, get their tasks done, and collaborate effectively.
Because that’s one of the keys to understanding this list: productivity is a general term. Its subcategories are just as, if not more, important to ensure you get the right apps and platforms for your individual needs. More specifically, we’ll break down:
- Collaboration and task management software options to help you get work done.
- Productivity software designed to help you stay on task and avoid distractions.
- Employee time tracking software to ensure accurate billing and efficient work.
- Individual time tracking software to better prioritize your tasks and activities
- Zapier automations designed to help you focus on the tasks that matter most.
Let’s get started.
Top Collaboration and Task Management Software
Talk about a one-size-fits-all solution. Clickup offers task management, project management, document storage, and even live chat. It’s even got time tracking abilities, making it a perfect fit if you just need the basics across all productivity categories.
More focused on the task management part, Asana shines in its user-friendliness. Even novices can jump in quickly to build out projects and track their tasks to completion.
Nobody likes Mondays, but the app doesn’t fall into this stigma. A more comprehensive version of Asana, it’s a great option if you want to build more complex projects.
Maybe you just need a simple to-do list? This one will do. Once you use it, you’ll never lose sight of professional or personal tasks again.
Another competitor in the project management space, Trello follows the Kanban-style. In other words, it’s great for non-linear projects you need to work on and track through to completion.
The good old chat just got better. There’s a reason Slack has built somewhat of a mythology among businesses. It’s a simple way to keep everyone working together through chat channels, groups, and individual chats (video optional).
7) Microsoft Office 365
You know MS Word and Excel, now get ready to meet their cloud-based big brother. In Office 365, all of your team can work together on document. Integrations with Microsoft Teams add a Slack-like chat and interaction option.
Especially if your company relies on large projects, this is a great collaboration tool. It allows you to easily build out timelines and track your projects through to completion.
We’re getting into the intranet space here. Once you set up OnSemble, your employees can read about company news, chat with each other, and collaborate more closely on their tasks and projects.
10) Zoho Projects
Built in the mold of Asana and its competition, Zoho promises efficient project management through a web-based app. Plan your work ahead, track it through the process, and make sure everyone works towards the same goals.
Much of your organization will depend on charts and graphics. In Lucidchart, you can build these charts collaboratively, working together on your diagramming and data visualization efforts.
Slab is a knowledgebase that’s designed to get your internal team on the same page. Especially as your business grows, it will become an incredibly beneficial database and single source of truth for your content and important data.
Streamtime optimizes project management for creative professionals. The visual, intuitive set up helps even the most creative minds get on the same page and collaborate.
Use Calendly to get your meetings streamlined. It integrates with Outlook, meaning you can spend significantly less time with internal and external meeting scheduling.
A direct competitor to Calendly, Doodle is a bit more straightforward. Get everyone on the same page for ideal meeting times before the actual invite goes out.
16) BrainStorm QuickHelp
What if you could take proven in-person brainstorming techniques into the digital sphere? QuickHelp is a learning platform designed to help you not just generate ideas, but also turn them into actionable, scalable action plans.
Sometimes, you just need to see what’s on your team’s computers. TeamViewer allows for collaborative screensharing that makes you think you’re just looking over someone’s shoulder in a physical office.
Top Productivity Software for Blocking Distractions
Managing your password effectively is one of the simplest way to avoid distractions. LastPass is a great way to do it, thanks to its cross-device functionality and encryption mechanisms.
19) Apple Shortcuts
If you’re working on your iPhone or iPad, this app helps you get work done more quickly by creating simple, intuitive shortcuts.
20) Dragon Naturally Speaking
Maybe the best speech recognition software on the market, Dragon’s app helps you save time by turning your spoken words into recognizable text. It’s never been easier to take notes or jot down thoughts.
Speaking of taking notes: if you prefer typing, EverNote is the way to go. Manage notes across devices, categorize them, and search for keywords to never lose time finding old notes again.
Its explicit goal is to help you become more productive. RescueTime does that by tracking the time spent on various apps, making improvement suggestions, and even blocking the sites (like social media) that might distract you.
Let’s face it: email might be the biggest distraction for most managers and business owners. SaneBox helps you keep your inbox clean through automated sorting and responders that help you focus on productivity.
This is a Google Chrome extension that limits your time on distracting websites. You can set the websites and time limits yourself, ensuring that you don’t get stuck in that dreaded YouTube rabbit hole.
25) Strict Workflow
Another Google extension, this one encourages (and somewhat forces) you to follow the 25/5 rule: 25 minutes of distraction-free work, followed by 5 minutes of break, and repeat.
Integrate Followup into your email, and you can turn your inbox from a product into a mini project management tool. Turn emails into tasks, set reminders, and organize more intuitively so you always know what comes next.
Sometimes, it’s as simple as getting rid of the noise. With this tool, you can get an instant list of all subscription emails you receive, and unsubscribe from the irrelevant ones in a single click.
Taco takes all of those productivity apps we’ve already highlighted, and pulls them into a single to-do list. No more hunting around different systems to find your instructions or next steps.
Speaking of cross-app integrations. IFTTT (“If This, Then That”) allows you to created automated chains of if-then statements across platforms. Trigger an email when you get a Facebook notification, pull a task into your CRM, and much more.
It’s IFTTT, but on an enterprise level. As we’ll cover in more depth below, some Zapier automations are especially helpful to maximize productivity and minimize distractions.
Remember that awful feeling when you just can’t express that one cool idea of string of ideas? MindMeister helps you better brainstorm and map out ideas, getting them from brain to the screen quickly.
Mindmaps is much like MindMeister, but more individualized. It’s especially helpful if visualizing your ideas helps you block those distractions of countless other tasks you have on your plate.
Top Employee Time Tracking Software
33) Time Clock Plus
Track each of your employee’s time, assign billing figures, and even schedule in advance. It’s a great way to keep a team’s schedule aligned and streamlined.
Much more complex than most other apps on this list, Scoro integrates time tracking with billing as well as project and client management. The result is a great overview of all tasks required for your finances and projects.
It’s more straightforward, with simple time tracking and timesheets delivered on daily, weekly, and monthly bases. Integrated reports can give you insights on anything from efficiencies to budgets.
Looking for a workforce overview? Replicon is probably right for you. It’s especially useful for larger teams where time tracking is vital to efficiency.
Through ClickTime, you can separate regular time tracking and billable hours to optimize your time and finances at the same time. You can even leverage forecasting features to plan ahead.
Freckle is maybe the most user-friendly option, aiming to make the process fast and easy. It operates across desktop and mobile devices, increasing the user-friendly aspect of the tool.
This is especially beneficial for working with hourly employees and contractors, as it lets you easily pay employees for the hours they log. It also incorporates fleet tracking via GPS if needed.
Top Personal Time Trackers for Gauging Productivity
Let’s start simple. Clockify is free, allowing you to easily track your time across projects. Tag each project, add your hourly rates if needed, then run reports to get your time sheets.
For Toggle, the name of the game is simplicity. Create a project, a task within the project, and start the timer. When you’re done, stop it and start the next one. One more click, and you have an invoice.
Planio approaches project management from the time tracking side. Build out your projects, then make sure you track the time working on it. Customized reports help you analyze your efficiency and costs.
Track your time in any browser, desktop, or mobile device. Real-time reports allow you to see exactly how you spend your time, and the integrations with some of the most popular project management tools further help efficiency.
This tool takes cross-device tracking to the next level, allowing you to switch over seamlessly. That means you can track your time on the go, especially beneficial for remote and agile businesses.
The makers boast that this tool improves your productivity by 30%. That’s because the time tracking is (almost) entirely automatic, making it much more difficult to forget to turn it on or off.
Top Zapier Automations that Reduce Manual Work
46) Turn Emails into Project Management Tasks
Many of the emails entering your inbox will need follow-ups. Through Zapier automations, you can identify them and make sure they end up on your to-do list.
47) Track Calendar Time in Your Time Tracking Tool
Your Google or Outlook calendar reflects meetings and work times. The right automation can pull that information into your time tracking tool to keep your hours accurate.
48) Build Automated Customer and Lead Follow-Ups
What if you could send a personal, automated email, each time a new lead or customer enters your database? You save time having to write it, while still making a good impression.
49) Data Transfers for Better Analytics
Many tools means many data sources. Zapier can help you pull that data from one platform into another, building a more comprehensive picture that helps you better analyze the information.
50) Automated Reminders for Meetings and Tasks
Tasks in your to-do list and meetings on your calendar can easily get lost. Become more productive by having Zapier email or text you before they’re due, so you’re well-prepared.
The Keys to Sustainable Productivity
These 50 tools, of course, are not a comprehensive list. There are countless other opportunities out there. The key for any business owner or manager is to identify which of them make sense for their situation specifically, then implement them strategically.
Use too many tools and platform, and your efforts to become more productive could backfire. Instead, focusing on 3-5 tools to manage your business and day-to-day activities tends to be the best way to optimize your productivity and help drive your business forward.