With productivity apps popping up left, right and center, it often feels like you waste more time looking for the perfect software than actually working efficiently. At I Done This, we’ve worked to improve our done lists and integrations to eliminate the need for meetings—but we realize that there are many more ways that you and your team can get more done in less time.
To spare you hours of internet sifting, we put together a collection of the 26 best productivity tools of this past year.
Team Collaboration Tools
Gone are the days of sending emails with Word documents, or scheduling all-hands meetings to delegate responsibilities. Everything can be done virtually and asynchronously. Here are some apps that do the best job of getting everyone on the same page.
Price: $9/user/month annually (standard), $22/user/month annually (plus), enterprise
We might be biased, but we consider I Done This to be a pretty great tool. With simple daily status updates and progress reports, you can have cross-team transparency and better overall communication. It’s easy to learn, easy to use, and useful for all kinds of teams. Oh, and their blog is a must-read
FreedCamp is a brand new, user-friendly productivity tool. It includes features like to-do lists, sticky notes, and collaborative calendars. It serves as a platform where you organize things like invoices, project templates and wikis. It also has an intuitive interface that’s easy to look at.
Price: Free (basic), $8.33/member/mo
Type: Web, iOS, Android
Asana is an all-in-one heavy duty productivity tool. It lets teams assign emails or responsibilities and then turn them into actionable tasks. From there you can manage, delegate, or collaborate on projects, and check them off as you complete them.
Price: Free, $9.99/user/mo (business), $20.83/user/mo (enterprise)
Type: Web, iOS, Android
Trello is a great tool for project management and delegation. Each task or project is put into a card which you can then organize into columns and funnels across a board. These cards can be assigned members, due dates, and any relevant notes.
Price: Free, $12.50/member/mo (business), $52.50 (enterprise)
Type: Web, Chrome Extension
Process Street is a great tool to set up company-wide documentation, walking employees through recurring procedures. You can set up documentation, broken into sections, and have checklists running parallel to the screen. It’s useful for onboarding new employees or adopting new policies or software.
Email Management Tools
Emails have become the go-to medium for communication between coworkers, businesses and clients, and even friends. Not to mention it delivers all those great newsletters you’ve signed up for and the discounts from your favorite stores. But the average American spends 6.4 hours a day, reading, writing, and sifting through emails. Here’s how to get those hours back.
Price: $9/mo (basic), $29/mo (unlimited), $149/mo (premier)
Campaign Monitor is the only full-fledged email service that made it onto the list, but that’s because of how fast you can get campaigns out to your customers with it. Their drag-and-drop editor is our favorite, because it lets you quickly create really beautiful, eye-catching emails that work across all devices— and then A/B test your emails to optimize.
Unroll.Me lets you organize your subscription emails, so you don’t have to spend time sifting through the clutter. Their Rollup feature stops the newsletters from filling up your inbox and reorganizes them into one neat email. This way you can read through them at your own convenience and not as they come in.
Type: iOS and Android
Boxer is a mobile-only app that helps you re-organize your email on your phone. You can bulk edit, set up canned responses, or assign labels and categories. The app also integrates with Evernote, Drive, and Salesforce so you can forward email content to other tools that you use.
If you embrace behavior tracking and aren’t afraid of a robot takeover, then SaneBox is your app. It records your email habits over time and learns to filter unimportant emails to a separate folder. So not only are you spared all those irrelevant emails, you don’t have to make any difficult decisions either.
Time Management Tools
Checking your email, direct messaging your coworkers, and even clicking between screens each might take just a few seconds out of your day, but those interruptions are more costly than they seem. In fact, a University of California Irvine study has shown that it takes about 25 minutes to refocus after getting off track. We found some great apps that keep track of how you spend your time and help you make calculated adjustments for better prioritization and focus.
Price: Free (Lite), $9/mo (Premium)
Type: Chrome Extension, Web, iOS and Android
RescueTime tracks the time you spend on different sites and apps. You can see your most productive hours and the types of pages that tend to distract you. You can also schedule alerts for cases when you spend too much time on a page or block pages altogether.
Price: Free (without features), $19.99 (Pro), $39.99 (Pro 3)
Type: Windows Desktop, Chrome Extension
This software takes over your computer and lets you block time-wasting websites during work hours. You can track your most productive hours, and then schedule blockers in different time windows throughout the day.
Price: $10/user/mo (Pro), $20/user/mo (Pro Plus), $59/user/mo (Business)
Type: Windows, Mac, Android, iOs
If you don’t need an app to control how you spend your time, try Toggle. It’s a crazy simple time-tracking mechanism that allows you to time your own tasks and projects. You control when it’s in use so you can press begin or stop for each project. The report feature gives you insight into your work habits, so you get a better sense of what adjustments need to be made to maximize output. It also integrates with task-management apps such as Trello and Asana.
Type: Mac, Web, or iOS
This is the newest time management tool on the market. It places more of an emphasis on work-life balance than the other apps, so you can keep track of whether you’re maintaining a healthy lifestyle or not. It also has a place for notes, a scheduling feature and plays nicely with Google Calendar.
Everyone hates trying to plan a meeting via email. You have to coordinate several schedules, and someone always has to take the initiative and finally pick a time. Whether it’s 3,4, 9 or 10 emails, it’s a huge waste of everybody’s time with all the new software out there. Here are a few apps that help you avert those scheduling crises.
Type: Web, Android and iOs
Do is a meetings app. It streamlines the entire process, both pre and post-meeting. Do covers everything from planning, to note-taking, to outcome lists, in order to make your meetings as productive as possible.
Price: Free for one user, $39 for one user (professional), $69 for teams (business)
Type: Web, iOS, Android
For something a bit more lightweight, try Doodle. Its sole focus is to coordinate schedules for big groups. You send out a chart with a series of possible times, and the recipients can respond with their availability.
Social Media Productivity Tools
Social media is no longer just a fun part of our social lives— about 88% of businesses use it in some marketing capacity. But Facebook’s endless scroll is just as temping during work as it is on our off time (if not moreso). Here are some tools that will allow you to organize your social media strategy, without getting distracted from the rest of your work.
Prices for individuals: Free or $10/mo
Prices for teams: $99/mo (small), $199/mo (medium), $399/mo (large)
Type: Web, iOS, Android
Buffer is a social media management tool that makes it easier to share content across your different platforms. You can schedule and queue a series of posts weeks ahead of time. Buffer also helps you optimize the content you share, get more engagement and most importantly, spend less time on social media.
Type: Web, iOS, Android
Leads often get scattered across a bevy of different social apps to the point where it’s hard not to lose promising opportunities. Nimble is a social media CRM that filters all the interactions you’ve had with your contacts across social media onto one screen for you to refer to. They keep this information up-to-date so that you have the most relevant information on prospects without having to search through multiple sites to find them.
Price: Free (basic), $9.99/mo (pro), $149.99/mo (agency)
Dlvr.it is a social media automation tool that lets you set up automatic content-sharing— no logging in necessary. Alternatively, you can curate your own feed and queue the content for later with automatically-generated hastags that dlvr.it picks for you. They also have a built-in analytics platform so that you can tweak your content-sharing strategy over time.
Price: $24/mo (individual), $79/mo (small business), $249/mo (brand), or you save 20% if you do an annual plan
Viraltag is a social media tool that is specifically for sharing visuals. Because each social media site has its own dimensions for photos, you can edit your posts to look the best on each site, all in one go. You can also schedule unlimited posts and recycle evergreen content. Import items in bulk from your Google Drive or Dropbox account and collaborate with your team from within the app.
Price: $49/mo (base), $149/mo (premium), $299/mo (elite)
AdEspresso is a productivity tool that assists you in crafting engaging Facebook ads. They let you do automatic ad optimization and even promise that you will spend only minutes on creating a handful of variants compared to hours on one ad that you can’t be sure will actually work.
Customer Support Tools
With customer support deemed the “new product differentiator,” you can’t afford to let those support emails slip through the cracks. But at a certain point, the non-stop flurry of incoming emails becomes too much to handle for your Gmail. Here are some of our favorite support tools that let you handle customer queries at record-breaking speed.
Price: $16/user/mo (team), $24/user/mo (premium), $40/user/mo (enterprise)
Type: Desktop, iOS, Android, Web
Front is a shared inbox done right. They combine all your customer support channels in one dashboard, giving you access to email, Twitter, Facebook Messenger, and SMS. They help you keep all those incoming messages organized with loads of filtering options and “rules,” and keep every bit of communication transparent for more efficient collaboration.
22. Help Scout
Price: Free, $20/user/mo (standard), $40/user/mo (plus)
Type: iOS, Web
Through Help Scout you can manage customer tickets more efficiently by having multiple inboxes under one shared email address. This allows teams to collaborate across members or even departments avoiding tons of back and forth emails over one simple issue. Help Scout also lets you set up automated messages, without revealing your process to the customer. You can save time and keep your messages sounding personal.
Price: from $5/agent/month (essential), from $19/agent/month (team), from $49/agent/month (professional), from $99/agent/month (professional), from $199/agent/month (elite)
Zendesk offers a lot of the same functionality as Help Scout, but they handle more than just ticket support. They let you add phone, video, and documentation to your support options, and offer more flexibility in terms of workflow management. There’s also a place for all of your customer information to be stored, so you don’t have to go fishing for it elsewhere every time you get a query.
24. Teamwork DESK
Price: $.10/ticket/mo (startup), $5/agent/mo (basic), $20/agent/mo (pro)
Type: iOS, Android, Web
Teamwork Desk has unified inboxes, tickets assignment, ticket statuses, and a customer portal. Similar to Help Scout, your emails are invisible to your customer, but they can also access support through a highly-customizable portal. That portal can serve as a hub for customers, in which they can access documentation, rate your support, and engage with other customers.
If you’re reading this article, we can assume that you wisely rely on apps for a slew of things—from brainstorming ideas, to smart alarms, to collaborative work. At a certain point, however, it’s easy for all those tools to feel overwhelming. You don’t want to power up 15 apps just to get your day started. Here are some jack-of-all-trades apps that combine the information from all your tools into one.
Taco pulls your to-do tasks from multiple apps and puts them into one friendly feed. It can be integrated with over 30 different apps—from Trello, to GitHub, to Basecamp. It keeps tasks from falling through the cracks and saves you from having to re-open and re-check several apps to stay on track.
IFTTT is a platform that lets you integrate hundreds of your favorite apps (357, to be exact). Instead of hosting the different app details on its own platform the way Taco does, it lets you push information from any one of your apps to another. It uses the “If this / then that” formula, so you could set up something like “if someone sends me an email attachment, then save the attachment to Dropbox.”
Price: Free (basic), $20 (“for work” plan), $100 (“for teams” plan)
Zapier helps you automate your workflows in a similar way to IFTTT, except it’s much more complex. Instead of a single if/then formula, Zapier lets you set up more complicated workflows with multiple triggers to set off any amount of actions. For example, whenever someone sends you an email, you can have it automatically saved to your Dropbox and then be alerted on both Slack and Trello.
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Editor’s note: This piece was originally published in September of 2016, but has been revamped and updated to include 11 more of our favorite productivity tools from this past year.