We walk you through some useful productivity tools to make your work more efficient.
Truly productive work is challenging — both in the technical and psychological aspects. With the current coronavirus pandemic keeping people at home, more companies have embraced remote work. When your team is distributed, communication and collaboration may suffer.
It is not surprising that almost every business is looking for a way to optimize work processes. Luckily, there is an ocean of productivity tools that makes your job easier and more efficient. In this article, we’ve broken down them into a few groups:
- Work automation tools
- Digitized office tools
- Task management tools
- Time-tracking tools
- Communication tools
- Mental productivity tools
Sure, they are not a “one-size-fits-all” solution. However, looking through this article, you may discover some interesting and relatively new tools to increase your team’s productivity. Let’s dive right in.
Work automation tools
IFTTT stands for “If This, Then That.” It’s a web tool, also available as a mobile app, that allows you to create custom automation processes between various online services (for example, Gmail, Google Drive, and Instagram).
For instance, you can create a sequence based on your Google Assistant and your contact list. As a result, the only thing you should do to get a new contact is to say: “OK Google, add Hanna to my contacts. The number is 555-4567.”
The best part of this tool is that it’s absolutely free. By letting IFTTT help you with these small tasks, you will have more time to be productive with bigger and more important projects.
Zapier is an online tool that will automate your workflow by connecting multiple workplace apps. The app connects over 1,500 apps, so you connect any project management tool with other ones to automate repetitive tasks.
The best part is, no coding is required. All automations can be built with just a few clicks:
- Choose an app that triggers the automation
- Select specific triggers (known as “Zaps”)
- Let the app know where the action needs to happen
- That’s it!
With Zapier, you can start building customized workflows in the blink of an eye. Let Zapier handle monotonous tasks and save your time.
Zapier has a free pricing plan (for 5 Zaps). The paid tiers start from $20 per month.
Digitized office tools
With LastPass, there is no need to search a Google Sheet for those logins and passwords (by the way, Google Sheets are not a secure way to keep your credentials). This tool supports two-factor authentication that ensures an extra layer of security. In a nutshell, LastPass is a password management tool. It enables you to generate, store, and share passwords.
To start using it, install the LastPass browser extension, sign up and create one long and strong password. Then, add your multiple credentials from various websites to your LastPass password manager, and voila, LastPass will automatically fill in the details for you.
LastPass features a free plan for one user, as well as paid tiers starting from $4 per user per month.
HelloSign is an electronic signature software that enables you to sign contracts online. Just imagine: no more storing, scanning, sending, and receiving documents that need a signature.
Using the tool, all your documents signed through HelloSign are legally binding and organized in one place, inside a secure system. The tool is free for 3 signature requests per month. Paid plans start from $13 per month.
SaneBox is an email service that works with your existing email account. Therefore, there is no need to install any new application. Simply put, SaneBox filters out unimportant messages into different folders that you can check from time to time.
To ensure the highest accuracy of filtering, you can teach SaneBox to understand your needs by giving it feedback. If you are a busy professional with tons of unread messages in your inbox, which drives you nuts, SaneBox is a perfect method of focusing on what really matters. In addition, SaneBox offers many excellent features to snooze emails, track emails without reply, etc. Pricing plans start from $7 per user per month.
Stayfocusd is a lightweight Google Chrome extension that limits time-wasting websites. It’s easy-to-use and absolutely free. Using this extension, you can block specific resources for specific times and dates (for example, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., from Monday to Friday). Also, Stayfocusd allows you to set a limit (for example. no more than 15 minutes of Facebook per day).
The tool is customizable: you can include entire sites, subdomains, specific pages, or even in-page content like games or videos. All these actions can be performed by clicking the Stayfocusd icon in your browser.
CamScanner is a mobile scanner that helps users scan, save, archive, upload and save them in whatever format you need anywhere and anytime. All you need is an installed CamScanner on your mobile device. What’s more, the tool can extract texts from images for further editing or sharing.
Although the tool offers a free plan, more advanced features come with paid tiers, which start at $4.99 per user per month. The paid functionality includes auto-enhancing of image quality, +10GB cloud space, translation into 60+ languages, E-signature, and many others.
Task management tools
Trello is a visual, simple and intuitive project management app based on Kanban philosophy. The tool breaks projects down into smaller tasks by creating “cards,” which are arranged into columns to represent phases of a project. A common example is columns dedicated for to-do, doing and done phases. Users drag and drop their cards to the corresponding column.
Trello is free to download and use. The premium plans with additional advanced features like app integrations and admin functionality start at $9.99 per user per month.
ToDoist is a handy to-do list app to gain more control over your working hours. All you need to do is to jot down your tasks. Then ToDoist automatically categorizes and prioritizes them, schedules reminders, and more. The best part is that a free plan allows you to collaborate with up to 5 teammates per project. Overall, you can manage up to 80 projects. The full-featured access to ToDoist will cost you $3 per month. Using a business-grade tier for teams, you will pay from $5 per user per month.
Drag is a handy and unique task management app. In a nutshell, it is a Chrome extension that turns your team’s Gmail inboxes into one project management tool. having installed Drag, you will transform your Gmail account into a Kanban board and simply drag and drop emails to different boards. Doing that, you will be able to create tasks and put due dates on them. In addition to a free plan, Drag offers a premium tier that costs $15 per user per month or $99 per company per month.
RescueTime is a time tracking tool that works in the background on your device to help you understand and measure how you spend your time online. Also, here you can set RescueTime goals for how you want to spend your working time, track your progress with dedicated alerts, and receive weekly summary emails. What’s more, the time tracker blocks distracting websites.
RescueTime’s free plan called RescueTime Lite offers basic, yet useful, time management functions. The paid tiers start from $6 per user per month.
Toggl is a simple time tracker. It’s not limited by device — Toggl works everywhere. The tool tracks the time spent completing tasks and provides users with detailed reports to improve their productivity if needed. Toggl features a built-in Pomodoro timer, automated reminders so you won’t forget to turn this app on, integrations with various office productivity software.
Although Toggl is free to use, premium features start from $10 per user per month.
When it comes to video conferencing tools, you may expect to see Zoom or Skype listed in this article. However, Zoom turned out to be insecure. Skype is constantly failing, and you end up without your message history or stable call.
Considering that, take a look at a new-born multi-platform video conferencing tool called Jitsi Meet. It’s secure, full-featured, and open-source (in other words, Jitsi Meet is completely free). Here you can create video calls with an unlimited number of members. What’s more, there’s no created account needed.
If your team needs more comprehensive communication functionality and a single hub for shared knowledge, you’ll definitely like Chanty. Chanty is a simple team chat with secure unlimited messaging — even in a free plan. Using this tool, your team can stay synced with text, voice or video, as well as share screen, files, links, or set tasks.
More advanced team chat functionality includes integrations with different third-party apps, invite-only team access, data encryption and data export. Chanty’s free plan is for teams with up to 10 members. The business plan starts at $3 per user per month and delivers additional features and unlimited members.
Mental productivity tools
In a nutshell, Mindfulness is a meditation app offering various activities for relaxation and focus: simple meditations, timed sessions, guided practices, etc. The app will be useful for everyone who needs to take a break and get a relaxed, focused and healthy state of mind.
Also, Mindfulness helps users to customize their meditations with guided introductions and bells, reminders, mindful notices, and statistics.
The app is free. However, you can get the premium subscription at $9.99 per month. The paid tier includes unlimited access to meditations and courses, offline access and regularly updated content.
Forest is a unique tool featuring a gamified approach to managing distractions, avoiding social media and focusing on what matters. The way it works is fascinating: you plant a seed and the less time you spend on time-wasting resources, the more your tree will grow. Note, the plant will die if you keep wasting time online.
This mental productivity app is easy to use and available for Android, iOS, and as a Chrome extension. Here you can see your time management achievements and get rewards for eliminating distractions. Pretty sweet, isn’t it? To start using it, you have to make a one-time payment of $1.99.
That’s it! We’ve walked through some useful productivity tools, which will make your work more efficient to reach both personal and business goals.