Today's trends for tomorrow's business
6 Must-have Productivity Apps
February 15, 2019
We all need a little help at times
When your work starts taking longer than you know it should, it may be time to change the way you’re working.
There are dozens of apps on the market designed to help you be more productive; this time around, we’re focusing on three important areas of productivity (collaboration, note-taking and efficiency boosters) that’ll improve your workflow and your work life in general.
The immense popularity of Slack makes it the measuring stick that every other comprehensive collaboration app is compared to. It’s clear Microsoft had Slack on the brain when they designed Teams, which takes all the best features of Slack (the usual chat rooms, as well as video conferencing tools, file sharing, storage, even embedded YouTube videos) and seamlessly integrates them into the greater Windows business environment.
Best of all, it offers something Slack doesn’t: a feature-packed free tier for up to 300 users, well within the size range of many smaller businesses. (At the free level you’ll get unlimited messaging, 10GB of storage, voice calls and a handful of integration features.)
$8.25/month per user, billed annually, products.office.com
Need to schedule a meeting with lots of busy people? If you don’t have permission to view their schedules (such as outside clients or vendors), or you just want to know if they prefer early mornings or end-of-day huddles, Doodle will save you tons of time managing their responses and avoiding rescheduling.
It’s a voting system that gives your attendees a handful of date and time options and lets majority rule. (Hooray for democracy!) And while this is a paid service for the meeting organizer, attendees can use it for free.
$69/year per user, doodle.com
If you’re invested in Google’s suite of apps you may already be using Google Keep, but even if you’re not, Google’s entry into the note-taking space is worth a glance. Google Keep doesn’t have any of the drawing, screen clipping and audio features that you’ll find in heavier note-taking apps - try Microsoft OneNote if you need those kinds of options.
What it does do is sync everywhere, whether it’s on your Chrome browser extension or in your Gmail. You can pin notes to create a simple priority list, and a quick swipe to the right archives old notes, so it can work as a to-do list as well. And the colorful interface is also practical, allowing you to color code your personal and work notes in one place.
Every detail in iA Writer’s design is in service of creating a distraction-free writing environment, from the retro typewriter font to the distinctive blinking blue cursor. It all helps to focus you on your words - in fact, you can use its “focus mode” to highlight one sentence or paragraph at a time. Swipe left to view your library of notes; otherwise, they stay out of view. It even features an easy-on-the-eyes night mode for working after dark.
$19.99 for one-time purchase, ia.net/writer
If you want to increase your productivity, understanding how you spend your time is the first step. And with so many people, projects and, let’s be honest, social media sites jockeying for our attention, it can be incredibly helpful to do an inventory of how you’re spending it. The app monitors which applications and websites you’re using and how much time you’re spending on each one.
You can categorize each app as “productive” or “unproductive,” and RescueTime will generate a weekly report showing you how productive you’ve been. You can get the weekly reports with the free Lite plan; the Premium plan offers extra features and reports, daily alerts if you’re being “unproductive,” and a “Get Focused” feature that lets you block distractions in your browser (ahem, Twitter).
Free, Premium $9/month per user, rescuetime.com
Staying on top of industry news is important to IT pros. (Hey, that’s why you read us!) But when you start getting distracted by content that you come across throughout the day - whether it’s via email, Slack, or news alerts on your phone - it’s time to start using a content saving app like Pocket.
This handy app lets you save articles, videos, pictures, and even tweets for when you have time to check them out. You can also view all your content offline (except for videos). Pocket also notices what you’re reading and recommends other content that you might like.
The free version archives your content for three months; when you upgrade it saves all your content forever, even if that content is taken off the web.
Free, Premium $4.99/month per user, getpocket.com