A quick Google search for "productivity" yields more articles than one person could possibly ever read containing tips, tricks, and hacks for making the most of your time. Workers today are so pressed for time that nothing is off limits when analyzing how it affects our workday, with everything from breakfast to lighting under scrutiny.
Maximizing your productivity, however, isn't just about getting your habits in check or making your office comfortable. Other strategies, like timeboxing or making to-do lists, are helpful for getting more work done in the long term. Thinking about how your hours are spent and what tasks need to be done is fundamental to keeping your productivity up over time.
As helpful as a pen-and-paper to-do list might be, applications designed to maximize your productivity can track your time and give sharper insights than ever. A large part of being productive is keeping your schedule in check, and using software designed to manage your calendar is an easy way to get more done during the workday.
Productivity Apps to Maximize Your Time
Lots of different applications offer assistance with productivity, but the following are especially good for managing your schedule and increasing your output in the long term:
Though nearly everyone today keeps a digital calendar of some kind, very few platforms offer features that analyze the calendar itself. Calendar allows you to take a look at how you spend your time and what you can do to improve your schedule.
Calendar, which can be synced with Google Calendar, Microsoft Calendar, and several other calendar apps, gives simple, readable reports of meetings attended and people encountered. Its analytics tools let you look directly at places where your time might be better spent doing something else; they can also pinpoint activities that are taking up more time than they should. Calendar makes thinking about productivity easier by breaking down what's done via your daily schedule.
Any.do is the classic to-do list updated for the 21st century. Its crisp interface combines all of your tasks, reminders, lists, and appointments in one location. It also offers cross-platform support, letting you check your list from your phone, desktop, Echo, and more.
Any.do also ensures good calendar support, allowing you to easily keep your checklist and your schedule in line with each other.
HubSpot offers a suite of free timesaving tools designed to minimize the time spent tracking and recording potential leads. This includes everything from automated follow-up emails to automatic data entry to live chats on your site.
HubSpot's Sales Tools help reduce the minutiae of managing customer relationships, which allows you to spend more time both accommodating current customers and finding new ones. By automating some of the less critical components of the lead-maintaining process, HubSpot's Sales Tools let long-term strategy and meaningful CRM take center stage over simple tasks.
Appointment does the heavy lifting when it comes to scheduling. Appointment's platform lets potential clients automatically book meetings with you using the times available in your calendar.
By eliminating the time you or an admin assistant would spend taking calls and checking calendars, Appointment frees up space in your schedule to take on more important tasks. Appointment also offers in-depth reporting software, which can show how your calls are impacting your time, as well as your business and revenue.
Grammarly is the easiest step you can take to improve your writing now. It automatically checks your work as you write, correcting not only grammatical mistakes, but also improving your phrasing and style.
Grammarly can be installed as an extension for your web browser; it can then review everything from articles to emails to social media posts. Grammarly's in-line writing guide can save time in the editing process later on by doing the bulk of the editing as you write.
Productivity Apps to Conquer the Most Mundane Tasks
Zapier is a great tool for saving time on small, oft-repeated tasks. It connects apps and lets you create custom automated workflows for things you might otherwise do manually. For example, you could create a simple tool using Zapier that downloads all email attachments to Dropbox or automatically sends certain data sets to Google Sheets.
Zapier helps maximize productivity by eliminating time spent on mundane, thoughtless activities. This frees up time, which allows you to focus on more important and meaningful work during the day.
In a tech landscape as fractured and varied as today's, IFTTT is essential for connecting all of your platforms. IFTTT allows you to create or download "applets," small, specialized programs for getting the little things done automatically.
Popular applets can do everything from post your Instagram photos natively on Twitter to give you a morning weather report. IFTTT's expansive and customizable cross-platform capabilities give you the chance to automate whichever daily tasks take up too much of your time.
Sorc'd is a simple but powerful tool for keeping track of your research. It's a browser plugin that keeps an eye on any information you pull, automatically marking its source. Sorc'd also lets you collect "snippets" of information you like and store them in the cloud for future use.
Another one of Sorc'd's great features is its capacity for sharing. Anything you find and take note of with Sorc'd can be easily shared with any other Sorc'd user or on social media. For keeping track of all of your various channels of information throughout the day, Sorc'd is invaluable.
1Password's goal is simple: making logging in easy. Its features allow you to keep all of your usernames and passwords in one place, secured with 256-bit encryption. 1Password can also be deployed to your entire team or company, letting you share certain login information and keep track of who has access to what.
Too much time is wasted on entering and reentering login info. Typical ways of saving time spent logging in -- making short passwords, keeping all of your passwords the same -- can compromise your security. 1Password lets you keep your accounts secure without going to the trouble of keeping track of all of your information.
Productivity Apps for Team Collaboration
Slack is a common fixture among modern businesses, and this is no accident. Its easy-to-use messaging service makes instant communication a breeze, and it makes creating groups as simple as a click or two. To help team members collaborate and resolve problems simply and instantly, Slack is a go-to platform.
Team collaboration is at the heart of Asana's platform. Asana allows for the creation of projects or campaigns, which can be broken down into lists of individual action items. These lists are designed to be accessed by entire teams and can be given date and time constraints in order to get the scope of the project into view. The items on the list can have individual messages or entire chats associated with them, allowing for close collaboration on each component of the project itself.
Asana keeps productivity high over the course of an entire project by ensuring the individual components of that project are done at the right time by the right people. Think of Asana as the Slack of to-do lists -- it allows for efficient communication about points and goals held in common by an entire team.
Trello, like Asana, divides your larger goals into smaller tasks. Trello's interface, however, is somewhat simpler than Asana's, maximizing ease of use. You can also sync up your projects to your phone using the Trello app.
While Asana is a great tool for tracking the detailed progress of a large project every step of the way, Trello is a better tool for checking the status of something on the fly. It gives a very readable look at the state of your project, giving you a sense of where things need to go in the future. Trello's friendly U.I. makes it a valuable piece of software for anyone who just needs a quick update on the state of things.
Jira is a collaboration platform more focused on agile development teams. It contains all of the features modern collaboration software is expected to have -- like progress bars, task managers, and reporting capabilities -- while offering integration of popular developer tools like Bitbucket. Jira's tech-focused features make development collaboration simple and accessible.
CoSchedule handles the timing aspect of team collaboration. Its platform shares your team's schedule across the board, letting you know who's working on what when. Getting your whole team synced up so everyone's schedules are working together is impossible without some centralization.
CoSchedule offers the necessary project management and tracking components to work as a general-use tool, but its focus on time tracking across your team makes it invaluable for making your office more productive.
15. Zoho Projects
Zoho Projects is great for maintaining an in-depth understanding of where your project is in the development process. While Zoho has lots of user-friendly pages and features, its primary management page offers greater insights than most. Zoho Projects uses Gantt charts, which offer highly detailed accounts of what's going on and when.
Zoho, which offers a mobile app as well, is a good tool for getting a visual understanding of your project. Whether you need to look at progress on the go or get a deeper understanding of the state of your work, Zoho has features to enable you to stay on the same page as your team.
Wrike is a project management platform that puts usability first. It allows you to customize your homepage to focus on the aspects of project tracking that are most important to you. Wrike also includes features for integrating other tools, like Salesforce or Google Calendar, which lets you keep all the components of your management strategy in one place.
Wrike's customizability cuts down on time wasted sorting through unnecessary features on other project management applications. By letting you select the metrics you want to track, Wrike makes it easy to keep your whole team on board with your goals.
Productivity Apps to Work With Customers
Zendesk contains a suite of tools designed to make it easier to work with customers at every stage of the service process. Its customer support tools make ticket-taking a seamless process, allowing for fluid communication with clients. Zendesk also offers call center software for managing larger customer service enterprises. For saving time on each aspect of customer service, Zendesk is a powerful tool.
CloudApp is a visual communication tool designed for customer service. Its service allows you to chat with clients over video without a hitch. It also lets you share screens over video chat so customers can show you issues they're having -- or you can show them features you're working on -- with ease. CloudApp's user-friendly video application makes face-to-face customer communication simple and personal.
Drift is a customer conversation tool that can be integrated directly with any site or webpage. It lets customers talk with an automated bot designed to engage potential clients. Drift's bots can also be customized so they deliver messages important to you and your business and can also direct prospects to humans for more complicated requests.
Drift is a great tool for taking some of the load off early-stage lead engagement. By saving time on low-level client courtship, it allows workers to focus on larger-scale projects.
Hotjar is a great tool for learning how people are engaging with your site. It offers click heatmaps indicating which aspects of a page users are most drawn to, and it can even record specific user experiences so you can observe individual case studies regarding how your site is used.
Hotjar combines these tools with powerful analytics software, which lets you see the data side of user engagement. By reporting both specific interactions and aggregate numbers, Hotjar lets you get into users' minds and figure out how to make your product work for them.
Productivity Apps to Increase Money
Harvest is designed to maximize time and eliminate inefficiency on a large scale. Harvest not only lets you schedule and time your own tasks, but it also allows for the compilation of an entire team's or organization's schedule data. By simplifying the data collection process, Harvest makes it easy to quickly figure out where time is being wasted and where productivity can be increased.
Harvest also incorporates tools for budget tracking and invoicing in its platform, allowing time to be saved on the budgetary side of project management as well. Part of maximizing productivity is simply freeing up time for important work, and Harvest's big-picture lens is great for looking at how schedules can be improved.
Due makes invoicing easy. It allows you to send and receive payments online, and its Venmo-style Digital Wallet enables payments to be made from its mobile app. Its encryption features and fraud detection tools also ensure that all transactions happen safely and efficiently.
By streamlining every aspect of the billing process, Due saves time typically wasted by hunting down and facilitating different outstanding payments.
Toggl is, at its core, a time-tracking application -- definitely valuable, but not necessarily something that increases profit. What makes Toggl different is that it tracks money as well as time. Toggl breaks down each of your hours by what you're spending it on -- meetings, projects, pitches -- to determine which activities produce the highest return.
Knowing which tasks make the most money allows you to build your schedule around what's going to be best for you and your business's income. Toggl's easy-to-use tracking tools let you take the first step toward maximizing the money you make with your time.
FreshBooks is a great all-in-one application for both invoicing and accounting. If you're looking for a platform that lets you keep all of your money-related activities in one location, FreshBooks offers that capability.
FreshBooks also offers plenty of automation tools for organizing expenses, sending out invoices, and more. Its reliance on cloud technologies also allows you to access your accounts anywhere from any device. By putting all of your accounting needs into one app, FreshBooks makes keeping track of your money that much easier.
Docusign eliminates the need for printing, faxing, and mailing when it comes to signing documents. Its secure platform allows any number of documents to be signed by any party safely and electronically. Switching to Docusign saves money -- not only in efficiency costs, but also in the amount of paper saved.
Maximizing productivity can be done in numerous ways, but making the most of your time means finding the software that speaks the most to your needs. Tools that alleviate small tasks are important, but being more productive in the long term means tracking with calendar and planning tools. Productivity software can help you see the big picture of the work you're doing and home in on what's necessary to achieve your ultimate goals.