No matter which way you work it there never seems to be enough time in the day. Our modern working culture is pretty relentless. It feels like we constantly have to get more done in a shorter space of time just to keep up with the pace.
Thankfully, technology does its part to take off some of the workload, providing software to make your process faster and more effective. So here’s a look at some of my favourite productivity apps and a few alternatives for good measure.
Asana is an out-and-out productivity platform designed to help teams collaborate more effectively. When you have multiple people working on the same project, Asana allows you to break things down into smaller chunks, assign tasks and keep track of everything. Team members can see each other’s progress and chip in to help out as and when needed.
You pay $21 per month for a team of five members and pricing increases from there, depending on the size of your team.
Slack is a communication app that integrates with just about every other platform you could ever need. You can create group conversations, one-on-one chats and share files with everyone who needs them. You can also integrate it with Dropbox, Asana and various other productivity tools to make your work process even snazzier. While the mobile apps mean people can connect from anywhere, anytime.
You can sign up for a free account and there are three paid versions for different requirements.
Trello is another project management application but this time everything is organised into task cards. It gives you a visual representation of progress by grouping your tasks by their status: ideas, to-do, doing and done. There’s a free version but for $9.99/mo you can integrate with Evernote, MailChimp, Dropbox, Slack and many more. Finally, there’s an enterprise version for $20.83/mo which comes with the full stack of features.
For the individuals
Evernote stands the test of time as one of the best productivity tools for individuals. It’s a place to collect all your digital thoughts and assets: web pages, images, notes and whatever else into handy files. You can sign up for free and paid versions, which start from $10/mo, allowing you to access files offline, export to other formats and search for text within files. There’s also a business version of the app, if you want to take your Evernotes up another notch.
IFTTT is a truly wonderful app that allows you to create new tasks between different applications. If you want your smartphone images to instantly save to Dropbox, sync new contacts to a Google Spreadsheet or automatically save email attachments to Google Drive, this app can make it all happen.
You can browse and search for recipes or create your own, if you fancy slinging the necessary code together. It’s also free by the way.
Toggl allows you to keep track of every second you spend working on projects so you can bill for your time more accurately. You can send reports to clients to show how long you spend on individual tasks and break down your pricing accordingly. It’s also handy for teams looking to boost productivity and it’s supported on just about every any device/OS.
For file sharing
Dropbox is still the go-to name in cloud file sharing and with good reason. It’s simple, fast and well supported across devices and operating systems. So your files are accessible by everyone who needs them, from any device they’re connected to. You also get 1TB of data for just $10/mo which is pretty competitive against its rivals.
Google Drive is a more diverse platform than Dropbox, giving you your own online space to store, create and manage files of all kinds. It’s also an alternative to Microsoft Office/One Drive and it costs nothing to use. You only pay for storage space with Google Drive: 15GB for free, 100GB for £1.59/mo or 1TB for £7.99.
It’s a pretty good platform, too, although a little slower than Dropbox due to more going on under the hood.
OneDrive is Microsoft’s answer to Google Drive and it’s more or less the same platform in terms of functionality. The bonus is you get integration with Word, Excel and any other Microsoft apps you might use. The downside is it can be more sluggish than Google Drive and the UI is nowhere near as intuitive. So it really comes down to whether you use Office or not.
For social media management
Hootsuite is the definitive name in social media management – for marketers and in-house teams alike. As the name suggests, this isn’t one single tool, it’s a full suite of management applications to help you get more from your social antics. It offers access to reports, insights, engagement and opportunities to expand your reach. There’s a free plan available but you’ll want to at least start with the pro version ($8.99/mo after 30-day free trial). For the full suite of features you’ll need to go with the business or enterprise plans which are priced on application.
Buffer is another serious social platform, designed to help you improve engagement and drive more traffic to your website. Again, there’s a free version but you’ll want to start with a business plan, which can cost anywhere between $99-$399 per month, depending on how many social accounts and team members you need to manage.
From there you can schedule thousands of posts and get an impressive range of analytic feedback for all of them. It’s nowhere near as expensive as it sounds, either. Buffer is just more transparent about its prices, whereas most ask you to call for a quote.
For content junkies
With Pocket you can save web pages to read later. That’s not bad but the real selling point is you can save them for offline reading. It seems strange to say it but there are still times when we can’t connect to the web or rely on the connection. Pocket gives you a place to store any page of content at the touch of a button, knowing it will be there later whether you’re online or not. It’s another freebie, too.
Feedly has got to be the best content aggregator app around these days. You subscribe to any publication or blog you want and every post comes right to your app. You can create any category you want to group different topics together and it integrates with Pocket, Evernote and other productivity apps. There’s a free version and two paid versions for roughly $5 and $18 per month.
For the design teams
InVision makes prototyping between design teams a far more manageable process. You can add interactions to your design files for clients to see how thing operate – pretty cool in itself. More importantly, though, the file sharing and communication process makes design projects run smoother for the whole team. It’s a little like Slack and Trello combined with design features to make one incredible platform.
Justinmind is a completely different kind of app to InVision. This is specifically a wireframing tool that allows you to create, test and collaborate on prototypes across multiple devices. It’s a cracking application, although it comes with a learning curve for newbies. It’s absolutely free to get started and there’s also a paid enterprise version for corporate teams. Definitely worth checking out for any designer.
So that’s my pick of productivity apps and I genuinely couldn’t get through the day without half of these. With the exception of the design tools perhaps, these applications will help anyone speed up their workflow without compromising for quality. Which hopefully means spending some more time away from the computer screen and enjoying a little bit more of the real world.