21 Best Tools and Apps to Significantly Boost Your Work Productivity
Wouldn’t it be great if you could compress 14 hours of work into an eight-hour work day?
You’d schedule meetings, confirm upcoming conference calls, respond to the 250 emails in your inbox, make travel reservations, pay invoices, delegate tasks, and still have time for big picture planning.
Sounds impossible, right? Wrong.
We’ve researched 21 of the best work productivity tools and apps on the market today. These technology assistants will help you work smarter, stay organized, and get more done in less time.
1. Dimewise. Stay on top of where your money is going with this handy financial management tool. Dimewise lets you record your purchases and expenses and then categorizes them for you. It costs $5 per month for the management of an unlimited number of accounts. It’s web-based on a secure connection, so you can log your purchases from anywhere, anytime.
Online Productivity Suites
2. Google Apps. Keep track of who’s doing what, and share your progress, with Google apps. You can use Google Docs, calendar, spreadsheets, Gmail, voice and the dozens of other apps at no charge in the cloud, where your information is stored (and sharable with team members who are either working in or out of the office). Using Google Calendar, for example, you can set up multiple schedules for different projects and/or clients, and also link to “public” calendars in order to stay on top of client activities.
3. Zoho. Work on the fly, wherever you are, using Zoho. Using Office Suite (Writer, Sheet, Show, Wiki, Virtual Office), Productivity Tools (Projects, CRM, Creator, Planner, Chat), Polls, and website monitoring, you can type reports, memos, blog posts, or reminders using this web-based tool. Zoho Writer is a web-based writing program that allows employees and clients to access their work at any time without the need for email.
4. Todo Task Manager. Don’t ever lose track of your highest priorities. Todo® Task Manager for iPhone (pronounced “too-doo”) is a powerful set of tools that makes task management simple and fun. Use Todo on your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad, and keep your tasks synchronized using Todo Online, a cloud sync service for tasks. Todo helps you focus on what matters most and allows you to integrate the Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology or your own. Keep your tasks up-to-date on all your devices by choosing one of Todo’s versatile sync options that include both Dropbox and iCloud.
Communication and Conferencing Tools
5. Userplane. Remain accessible to your team, or to your best clients. A service that offers both group-chat and one-to-one messenger services, giving website owners the ability to offer chat between their users. Userplane offers a suite of communication and conferencing tools, the most useful of which is called Presence, which allows a communication system to “know” where a user is and to reroute calls and messages accordingly to the specific device he or she is in closest proximity to.
6. GoToMeeting. Schedule meetings or share important documents in mere seconds. Collaborating with other professionals around the world is easy with GoToMeeting. The free GoToMeeting app for the iPad allows you to easily attend online meetings anywhere you have Internet access. This gives you the same GoToMeeting experience as you’d have from your desktop computer, including the ability to view spreadsheets, reports, and more. You can attend meetings held via GoToMeeting for free on your iPad, or try the free 30-day trial and host meetings through GoToMeeting on your iPad.
7. Skype. Stay in touch without breaking the bank. Make and receive free domestic calls and send and receive instant messages through your computer or iPad. You can also make discounted international calls and send discounted text messages. Recording calls and using videoconferencing are easy with Skype, which offers a subscription-based service for dedicated lines, 1-800 numbers, and other advanced options.
8. Desktop Connect. Eliminate the chance of a crisis when you forget an important document. For a $14.99 investment in the Desktop Connect app you can connect to any computer in the world via your iPad using Desktop Connect and access desktop files. It works with Windows, Mac, and Linux computers. It also enables you to view websites in Adobe Flash on your iPad.
Document and File Management
9. Documents to Go. Save money on another laptop. Documents To Go is an all-in-one application with support for Microsoft Word, Excel & PowerPoint, PDF and other files and attachments. It literally turns your smartphone into a desktop – (albeit with smaller keys and fonts). All of the document’s original file formatting will is maintained via the application’s InTact Technology, making it easy to edit and forward documents, presentations, and other files. The basic suite is priced at $14.99.
10. Quickoffice’s Mobile Office Suite. Keep projects moving forward by being able to access, create, edit, and share Microsoft Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations. The app allows you to download and manipulate files, and then forward them to recipients. Connect File Manager lets you access and edit files in your Google Docs, Dropbox, Box, Huddle, SugarSync, and MobileMe accounts. The basic suite is priced at $14.99.
11. Dropbox. Send large files in a flash. Dropbox synchronizes the folders you choose and makes them available from any device or from their website when you’re in a pinch and need to access files from elsewhere.
12. Evernote. Think of Evernote as a virtual repository of sticky notes, memos, aha ideas and more. Forward emails, take notes, and categorize action items in this free catch-all app. This cross-platform note-taking application features a robust cloud-syncing platform with Mac and Windows desktop apps, web-based access, and mobile clients for iPhone, BlackBerry, Palm Pre, Windows Mobile and the Sony Ericsson X1 (an Android client is currently available in a beta version). Evernote also supports voice memos, along with post by email and even via Twitter options.
13. Paymo. Make sure you’re billing clients for every minute you invested in their work. This is a free tool that you can use to track time worked while you’re on the go from your desktop or mobile device. You can also use it to generate professional invoices and estimates. Just click the button when your client arrives and click it again when she leaves. Your time is automatically tracked for billing later.
14. Harvest. More accurately track how much time you and your team are spending on various activities. Using one-click entry this app allows users to start and stop timers throughout the day with the click of a button, or quickly type in your time on the weekly timesheet. You can access the app’s time tracking timer from anywhere from a PC, Mac, mobile device, or desktop widget. You can even track time via Twitter, Gmail, and other popular applications such as Zendesk. Harvest’s time tracking devices help you manage your staff’s time and approve their timesheets.
15. Pomodoro. For $4.99 Need help focusing? Pomodoro will serve as an “antiprocrastination application” that helps small business owners get things done. It is a simple but effective way to manage your time and to boost your productivity. It can be used for programming, project management, studying, writing, cooking or simply concentrating on something important. The premise is that you use one of those tomato-looking timers to stay on task for a set amount of time. So, if your goal is to read email for only 15 minutes, you might use this method to set a time limit for the task.
16. stickK. Reinforce your new goals and plans. Developed by Yale University economists to test “Commitment Contracts,” this app allows you to enter your goal or new habit within seconds of landing on the homepage. Then you register and start committing.
17. 21 Habit. Incentivize yourself to be more productive. Named after the standard wisdom that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit, 21 Habit allows you to set your own 21 day challenge. You start by depositing $21 and for every day you are successful, you earn $1 dollar back. If you don’t succeed, 21 Habit donates your dollar to charity.
Miscellaneous Business Productivity Tools
18. Business Card Reader (iPhone or iPad) or CamCard (Android devices) Better manage your new contacts. Business card scanners help you digitally organize those myriad business cards that tend to accumulate during the average workweek. Snap a photo and the card’s information will be captured on your device for later use.
19. Vlingo. Need to get more done en route to work? This app makes your iPhone, Android device, or Blackberry phone work for you by listening to and acting on your voice commands. Vlingo responds to specific voice commands and can handle web searches, and sending messages and emails.
20. Kayak Mobile Pro. Road warriors unite. This tool lets you find a flight or a hotel; TripIt – Travel Organizer keeps your travel itinerary always handy in your pocket,; FlightTrack Pro – Live Flight Status Tracker gives you real-time flight updates and helps you find alternate flights GateGuru will guide you to the nearest ATM, post office, or luggage store in the airport. Once you arrive, Taxi! makes it easy to find a cab 24/7 anywhere in the U.S.
21. OtherInbox. See more of what you want to see in your inbox and less of what you don’t. This tool pulls e-mail messages from various senders into folders you’ve designated and even unsubscribes you from e-newsletters you no longer want. Available on AOL, Gmail, and Yahoo! email, the tool will file all of your e-mails from a particular client in one folder.
We all wish we could have more time each day to make more headway on the work we need to do. Implementing these time-saving productivity tools can certainly help you reclaim a large chunk of that time.
What are your favorite work productivity tools and apps?