Every small business owner dreams of getting more work done every single day.

Question is – How? You can’t add more work hours to a day and the only option is to make each hour more productive. The business tools you use play a very significant role in determining your team productivity. There are a plethora of low-cost or free productivity tools available that can help you improve your team productivity.

But how do you choose the right tools? How do you know what tools are right for you and the tasks you wish to accomplish?

Before choosing your productivity tools, it is paramount to understand how your team works, the processes you have in place, and to identify any bottlenecks. Each business is unique and so are their processes and productivity needs. There can be no one solution that can magically improve productivity for all kinds of businesses. With a fundamental understanding of how your teams and business functions work, you can make a better choice of tools that fit your needs.

In this article, we’ve curated a list of best productivity apps for different business functions like team communication & collaboration, time tracking, project management & note-taking. We’ve covered the features that make each app stand out from the rest, so you can make the right choice of productivity apps for your business.

Also – we’ve added a bonus app that will help you with automating & connecting all the apps you use every day!

Team Communication & Collaboration Apps

1. Slack

Slack is hands-down one of the best tools in the market for team communication. It’s a simple yet powerful messaging platform used by small & large enterprise teams. Right from its inception, users have appreciated the way Slack is making it easier to work remotely, cut down on back n forth emails, & revolutionizing how co-workers talk & collaborate.

It features real-time team chats, cross-functional communication, and timely notifications. Slack is not just the best team communication app but it’s a great app to get all your important notifications and get real-time responses & opinions on the work you share.

What makes it stand out?

Slack integrates with dozens of other business apps and pull in data from all your business applications into Slack and help employees stay informed, collaborate and get things done faster. It’s the lifeblood of your team.

Slack has numerous hidden capabilities like advanced message search, simple commands, Slackbot as your personal assistant to name a few.

Integrating Slack with other apps:

Make the most out of the Slack App Directory:  Slack has numerous apps in its directory to help you use data from other apps in Slack. For example, you can work on your to-do-list right from Slack using the Trello App. View all apps on Slack Directory here.

Connect Slack to CRM, Payments, Project Management apps: You can make the most out of Slack by integrating it with your other apps and creating multi-step workflows.

If you’re a sales rep, you can integrate the CRM you use with Slack & notify yourself for every new lead/meeting booked/deal closed. This makes you more productive & stay on top of your schedule.

A recent study projects that the usage of chat messaging apps at work has increased to almost 5.9% of the total time spent at work. Use Slack judiciously & don’t let it hinder your productivity.

2. Google Apps

Google Apps namely Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Tasks, Google Spreadsheets, Google Docs, Google Hangouts, Google Slides form an indispensable email and document collaboration suite.

You can handle your meetings, documents, presentation, and spreadsheets from anywhere with no clutter of document versions floating around in your inbox.

What makes it great?

Its ability to let multiple people work simultaneously on a document with automatic versioning & commenting features make it by far the best of its kind.

Productivity Tips:

Google Sheets Tips & Tricks: Google Sheets is by far the most used app by anyone across the web. To make the most out of this simple yet powerful app, we’ve written down the best Google Sheets Tips & Tricks that you can use right away.

Gmail Tips & Tricks: If you’re a heavy GSuite user, you’d probably use Gmail for all your communications via email. De-clutter your inbox by implementing these easy to implement Advanced Gmail Tips.

3. Podio

Podio is a team collaboration tool with highly customizable features to cater to teams of different sizes & industries.

It proudly boasts about its varied collaboration features. To name a few: Podio Apps (tools that are used by teams working on Podio), Workspaces, Communication & Online Meeting setups, Tasks, Files & Calendaring, Integrations.

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What makes it stand out?

The best part that users love about Podio is that it’s very flexible to your needs & you can customize data fields your workspaces, projects, dashboards. Also, teams collaborating with external members, freelancers & clients, can have them invited to the workspace & have a 360-degree view all the activities & user actions.

How to make the most out of Podio:

Get the right App Pack from Podio App Market: Podio lets you ease your work by getting the right set of apps for your workspace. You can select the packs from the Podio App Market by either function or industry. These include apps for meetings, invoices, tasks, client documents, etc.

Use of Native Integrations: You can make the most out of Podio if you have seamlessly integrated it with other apps you use. Podio integrates with major file-sharing services like Google Drive, Dropbox, ShareFile, Box, HighTail, and OneDrive.

Podio Extensions: Apart from the native integrations available, you can connect your CRM, Marketing & E-Commerce apps to Podio via Automate.io

4. Airtable

Airtable is an all-in-one collaboration tool and best alternative to Spreadsheets.

You can organize your database easily with Airtable using its customizable spreadsheets used for different functions like campaigns, project management, sales CRM, product catalog, marketing planner, etc.

What makes it stand out?

Airtable is between a spreadsheet & your business apps. It gives you full flexibility to enter data as easily as in a spreadsheet & also have the rich features & visualization that a specialized app provides you.

Airtable lets you create colorful charts and get the big-picture overview of a table. Its Map feature allows you to store geographical addresses and coordinates. Airtable also allows you to manage your tasks using different table views like Calendar, Grid, Kanban, and Gallery. Not ever project management & collaboration app provides the varied type of views.

Best Practices to work with Airtable

Import your Spreadsheets: You can import a spreadsheet by uploading a .csv file with tabular data, or you can simply copy your spreadsheet data and paste it in the table. Advance features like XML Import and Contact Import can help you to import the records from XML file or vCard file to an existing table in Airtable.

Collaborate with your team: Airtable allows to share your base with your teammates and track their activities. You can also lock the view configuration so that no one can edit the setting until it is unlocked. Collaborators can also copy the base and add it to a new workspace or the same one.

Connect Airtable to 100+ Apps: Automate.io lets you push your data back and forth across Airtable & other apps like Google Sheets, Trello, Slack, Gmail, Typeform, Mailchimp, etc.

Project Management Apps

5. Trello

Trello is a very effective project management tool. Use dashboards to plan and, organize tasks for your entire team, and collaborate on each task contextually. Power-ups pull in information from other popular apps making it even better.

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What makes it stand out?

Trello literally keeps your team on the same page. It’s completely free with unlimited boards & members. Integrate it with Slack and you will hardly need the Prepaid plan.

Trello Productivity Tips:

Supercharge your Trello with Power-Ups: Trello Powerups are a boon to the users! These are like the additional powers that you can add to your Trello. They bring features from different apps to your boards &you can view all important data right from Trello. It’s easy to pull in information & automate workflows from your other apps directly into Trello.

To make your project management work like a breeze, easy to use power-ups like Butler for Trello, Card Ageing, Google Calendar, Gmail, Dropbox & Automate.io, are a must.

Keyboard & Other Shortcuts: You can use Trello like a pro by using their easy keyboard shortcuts like a spree! Like double click on any free space, automatically creates a new list, adding attachments by simple drag & drop & copying items from anywhere to your lists. Read more about these shortcuts here.

Back-n-Forth Data Sync: Do you get tasks assigned offline or via emails? You can visualize & manage all your tasks in Trello in a much better-organized fashion by simply connecting it with your other apps. (via Automate.io)

Every time you receive a specific labeled email, you can automatically create tasks in Trello, send a notification in Slack to yourself & create calendar events for these tasks. All of this without you doing any manual work!

6. Asana

Asana is a simple & easy-to-use project management tool to help teams organize, collaborate and be more productive.

Right from its launch in 2008, Asana focuses on enhancing user experience & features to make users more productive in their work. It evolved into a full-fledged productivity & project management suite with top-notch features.

What makes it stand out?

Like any other project management app, Asana has like task & resource management. A combination of these features along with its budget management & time tracking is what makes it stand out from the rest.

Best Asana Tips to Save Time & Do More:

Custom Templates for Process Documents: Be it onboarding a new member to your team or sending across blog guidelines to a freelance writer, process templates come very handy in such situations.

In Asana you can create & use Custom Templates document (& speed up) your processes. A best practice is to make sure your templates are comment only so that there are no chances of accidental edits made to it.

Connect Asana to 100+ Apps & Do More: You can harness the power of Asana by integrating it with your other collaboration tools like Google Apps, Slack, Jira, Salesforce, etc.

You can notify yourself for new tasks on Slack, create calendar events for new tasks assigned, and also add new JIRA or support issues to Asana.

7. Basecamp

Basecamp offers simple project and task management without a ton of features that ultimately slow you down. It has launched it’s latest version, Basecamp 3, which is a combination of all the tools that small to large teams require for project collaboration.

It can be a very effective way to manage all project assignments & processes across an organization. Stake-holders, clients & people working on the projects can simply log in & see their individual tasks, blockers on their end (if any), what’s due, when, everything with ease.

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What makes it stand out?

Users love Basecamp for its simplicity and ease of use. It has the ability to set up different sections for different types of todos versus having all of them in one place. Also, Basecamp has made Client Project Management easier than before by having all client communication in one place.

Best Tips while working with Basecamp:

Guide your Project Team & Client: If you use Basecamp for your internal & client project management, make sure you guide your team & clients with the processes and custom workflows that you’ve set up in Basecamp. This really helps them to use the platform better & never miss out on any task assigned or deadline.

Seamless Basecamp Integrations to collaborate better: Want to take your project management to the next level? Integrate Basecamp with Slack and other apps for seamless and agile collaboration.

Note-Taking & To-Do-List Apps

8. Evernote

Evernote is an all-in-one app for note taking, task lists, organizing & archiving. Launched in 2007, Evernote gained popularity in no time. Currently, more than 200 million users use it every day to take notes, visualize their to-dos & organize their tasks!

We’re in the new-aged technology space & are moving away from the traditional pen & paper note taking method. Evernote, let’s users put down their thoughts from anywhere & in a more secure way with its cloud storage feature.

What makes it stand out?

Evernote has the ability to input & store your handwritten notes also by simply scanning them. It makes it very handy for users to manage all their notes under one platform, be it handwritten or exported from any email, etc.

Any app could help you with text search for your notes but Evernote lets you also search text from images with their Optical Recognition Feature. Sounds nifty, right?

How to use Evernote effectively:

Sync your Notes across devices: Don’t forget to turn on the device sync when you use Evernote on your smartphone as well as computer. Be more productive by not juggling between your devices for your important notes. Evernote can be used across iOS, Windows, Android.

Using Web Clipper & Adding Visual Callouts: If you’re into gathering research, be it for your blog or college project, Evernote’s handy web clipper can help you with important links you’d want to revisit at a later stage. A best practice is to use Evernote’s text highlighting & visual callouts to that particular text in the link, to help you understand why you clipped it.

Automate Task Creation, File Syncing and much more: Evernote has integrations with apps like Gmail, Outlook Mail, Google Drive, Salesforce, Microsoft Teams & Slack. You can forward specific emails as notes in Evernote, create tasks from new emails & upload your files to your preferred cloud storage app.

If you’re a heavy user of notes, making to-do-lists & collaborating with your team using files, then you should give the Evernote premium plan a try!

9. Wunderlist

Wunderlist is an easy-to-use Task Manager & To Do List app for all your projects, be it planning a holiday, your groceries or business related. You can easily add tasks, assign them, create items for each task & have a full view of your schedule at ease.

What makes it stand out?

Its ease of use, simple UI and very decent pricing going up to only $4.99/user is what Wunderlist users love the most. Users who want to get things done in a very productive way & always plan ahead of time would definitely love this app.

Pro Productivity Tips:

Set Reminders for Tasks: Wunderlist has an intuitive Reminder System that is effective at keeping you up to date with what needs to be when, and not easy to ignore or let anything slip through the cracks with push notifications.

Keep your data in sync: It has cross-device compatibility for Windows, Linux, Android, iPhone/iPad, Mac, Web-based, Windows Mobile.

10. Todoist

Todoist is a task management and to-do list app which lets you keep track of everything in one place. You can set up your daily tasks and their priorities by creating a checklist and mark it done once you completed the task. Todoist is also for iOS and Android devices.

What makes it stand out:

Todoist has very clear options while filtering out high priority tasks. Use the filter option to see only those tasks assigned to you with its priority value. Apart from just using it as an individual note-taking & to-do-list app, activity log feature lets you log each activity done by you or your team under one project.

Best Todoist Practices

Schedule your work calendar: You can set up task deadlines, priorities & reminders. It makes it easy to track the progress of the project in your Todoist calendar using Project Calendar Feed.

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Collaborate & Assign tasks to your team: Todoist allows you to share the project with your team. Assign the task, due dates, discuss task details in the comments section. Have all your project details at one place.

Syncing across devices & Integrating with other apps: Keep your Todoist items in sync across all your iOS, Android, Windows & Desktop devices.

Without any manual efforts, with the email forwarding option, you can forward an email as a task in Todoist. Apart from this, what you can do is to utilize the power of integrating Todoist with other apps via Automate.io.

You can create calendar events from tasks added in Todoist, sync support issues as to-dos in Todoist, and many more.

Time Tracking Apps

11. Toggl

Get away from distractions and monitor your work time easily with Toggl. Toggl is a free productivity software with features like simple time tracking, monitoring & reporting on the time needed for the tasks & sharing time sheets with your team.

It also has a few advanced features like automated timesheets, actionable business intelligence insights, & easy reporting which help you win back time. You can analyze where you spend most of your time & better prioritize by looking at the full picture.

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What makes it stand out?

The Toggl Chrome Extension works like a wonder for users. You can set the timer to your day when Toggl should automatically stop recording time on tasks. You eliminate chances wherein you forget to stop recording time overnight.

It’s a huge money saver for freelancers & solopreneurs who don’t really need advanced team reporting & timesheets. Most of the basic time tracking & productivity features are available in the free plan too.

Productivity Tips for Toggl:

Integrate Toggl with Asana, Trello, Gmail: Connecting Toggl to your project management app helps you track time spent working on a particular task assigned across apps. You can have a full overview of time hours spent based on user, team & on an entire project level.

Automatically send Toggl timesheets to your Gmail, Google Sheets, and other apps.

Make the most out of Toggl Button: Toggl Button is a chrome extension that has features of the Toggl chrome extension like idle detection, automatically stop recording time & almost works with 100+ apps. Toggl helps you be the most productive when these functionalities are utilized to the fullest.

12. Tsheets

Tsheets by QuickBooks is a cloud-based & mobile-first, time management software for businesses for employee tracking. Teams can collaborate by inviting users with different access levels on their TSheets dashboard and make sure everyone is on the same page.

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What makes it stand out?

The GPS time tracker feature for the mobile workforce helps businesses in this space to keep their mobile-employees accountable for their tasks. Its mobile app is very handy & employees can simply clock in and their location & time spent would be tracked.

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Best Tips for Tsheets

Use Alerts & Approvals: Alerts help businesses get notified for a lot of events happening in their Tsheets account like overtime cost shoots up. This way they can take action immediately on budgeting & job costing. Tsheets also makes the process of approval of timesheets easy by letting employees to send notifications to their managers before running the payroll.

Integrations with Payroll & Accounting Apps: TSheets integrates with Quickbooks & Xero to make it easy to create invoices for the hours worked by employees.

13. RescueTime

RescueTime is an excellent time-management tool that provides you with intelligent insights on how to spend less time doing more. It helps you track how much time you’ve spent on Chrome, and automatically logs in when you’re idle too.

It acts as a good digital wellness tool that tracks the time you spend on digital platforms.

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What makes it stand out?

It’s forever free plan has all the basic features to track your digital life. Advanced features like reporting on your time spent across activities & tabs, help you get serious & improve your productivity levels.

A unique feature is that RescueTime blocks distracting websites while you’re at work. You can set up tabs which you’d want to not look at for a specified time period. This makes RescueTime the productivity app you’ll want to try out & improve work efficiency.

Pro Productivity Tips

Chrome Extension for RescueTime: Add this chrome extension to track the time you spend actively on any chrome window across your ChromeOS devices.

Setup Alerts: RescueTime lets you set up alerts based on the time spent on a particular page or task when you’ve marked it as distracting. Apart from this, it notifies you when you’ve hit a productivity milestone too.

Social Media Scheduling Apps

14. Buffer

Buffer allows you to broadcast to all your social accounts from one place. Post updates to Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ and more with one click.

Why is it amazing?

Buffer has a simple and clean interface. If all you need is to post to the top social networks the free Buffer account is the best out there. The Awesome $10 plan is all you will need if you are not really big into social marketing.

But if you’re an agency, managing multiple client’s social accounts, then Buffer’s Social Media Calendar is very handy. You get a full view of all the posts queued at a glance one week at a time.

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Advanced Tips for Working with Buffer:

Upload Custom Thumbnail: Users can share the same link across social media with different thumbnails of their choice. Target the audience with relevant messaging & improve your brand’s social performance.

Use Buffer Analyze: With Buffer Analyze, you can measure & understand your brand’s social performance. Create visual reports in just a few clicks & get your performance numbers of your Instagram, Facebook, & Twitter Profiles, all in one dashboard.

It has also a very cool feature of creating different reports for the type of metrics – aggregated metrics report, Instagram Stories report, Audience Demographics, etc.

15. Hootsuite

Hootsuite may suit you better if you are an avid social marketer. It allows you to manage your social accounts, engage with prospects, run social campaigns and analyze results.

What makes it stand out?

The free plan allows you to manage up to 3 social accounts with scheduling and basic analytics features. Not just that, you can also find, manage, & share compelling social media content from Hootsuite.

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If you plan to run paid campaigns for your best performing content, you can do it from Hootsuite. Manage all your campaigns, scheduling & analyzing at one place.

The $10 Pro plan with 10 social accounts and all major features should fit all your social marketing needs.

How to make the most out of all of them?

All of these productivity apps are great at whatever they do. But often they need to talk to each other to exchange customer data and automate some trivial tasks.

Automate.io (Bonus)

Automate.io is a SaaS integration app that allows you to integrate all your cloud apps together and make them work better for you. It empowers you to be more productive by letting your apps do the work for you!

You can do one to one integration for syncing data, or connect multiple apps and run workflows across them. Setup your automation rules once and free your team from manual data entry, and other unproductive and repetitive tasks.

How Automate.io helps you get more done:

  • 100+ Integrations: Automatically sync data across 100+ apps like Slack, Trello, Asana, Wufoo, Buffer, Mailchimp, Todoist, Basecamp, Podio, Airtable, Google Apps, Typeform, Facebook Lead Ads, Google Sheets within minutes.
  • Zero Coding & Simple Drag & Drop Interface
  • Multi-Step Bots: Users can create automated workflows with multiple Actions for a single Trigger.
  • Get Granular Control Over Your Automation: Users can create & trigger automation if they meet certain conditions, like including keywords or values.

In today’s world, business productivity is more of a necessity to stay competitive. Having the right tools not only saves time, but it also lets your team focus on real work that makes a significant business impact.

Author

A vivid marketer having the zeal to explore new Marketing and Growth Hacks for businesses and SaaS products! If not doing this, you can see me listening to music and toiling around aesthetic cafes.