Productivity is one of those buzzwords. When you're feeling productive, you're working efficiently and completing the maximum amount of work in the minimum amount of time needed. It’s something we all want to achieve.
But when you aren't feeling productive?
You might find yourself staring at a blank computer screen, fidgeting at your desk, or taking one too many coffee breaks. As a result, it takes longer to get your work done — meaning more time at your desk. No thanks!
Luckily, there is technology available to help.
Productivity tools can help you enhance focus, organize tasks, improve collaboration, and streamline communication. These tools make it easier to concentrate independently and work together as a team.
Happier workers who aren't dragged down by unproductive days — and better-functioning teams that get the job done.
Implementing the right productivity tools in your company can benefit all involved. That said, there are loads of different technologies to choose from, and knowing which one is right for your business needs can be hard.
Don't stress: We've got you covered. This guide explains the different types of productivity tools available and gives you a roundup of options.
What are productivity tools?
There are different types of productivity tools for business use, designed to help with everything from time management to project management.
The one thing all these tools share? They help make everyday work processes more efficient. They might reduce administrative burden, eliminate bottlenecks, or improve organization — all of which can add up to faster workflows.
Suppose you have a large project that involves multiple people: a writer, an editor, a quality assurance agent, a graphic designer, and a customer service representative. These different professionals are active at different stages of the project journey. They need to know the status and when their input is needed, but they don't need to actively contribute at every step.
Sending emails back and forth within this group is tedious and wasteful, and it means people will get lots of messages that aren't relevant to them. A project management tool is a handy solution to this issue.
Project details, deliverables, and due dates can be stored and updated in a central cloud-based system. Anyone involved in the project can check the status at any time. No email back-and-forth needed! This is just one example of a multitude of productivity tools available on the market today.
Why should companies use productivity tools?
Implementing productivity tools requires an investment.
Obviously, there's the cost associated with purchasing any new business technology. Then, there's the investment of time and energy needed to train workers to learn how to use the new tool.
Before you go to all this trouble (and swipe your credit card), you want to ensure productivity tools are worth it. Trust us, they are! Here are some of the ways they can help your team (and small business as a whole) thrive.
To improve the quality of work
Productivity tools make it easier to set goals, assign jobs, and track progress. These tools can improve work quality by making it possible to keep an eye on workflows.
Plus, productivity tools can simplify annoyingly tedious admin duties — like generating reports or providing real-time project updates. For example, a time-tracking tool automates the job of counting worker hours.
When people don't have to worry about this kind of pesky odd job, they can focus fully on their core duties. The result? Higher-quality work.
For centralized access of data
Data, data, data — it's a part of every business!
Maybe you run a marketing agency that collects data about social media usage for your clients. Or maybe you run an ecommerce shop and track data on sales trends so you can stock your inventory accordingly.
When it comes to storing all this data, it's useful to have a central access point. Having one spot that every worker can refer to, like a cloud-based storage platform, helps save time and hassle when sharing data.
For communication and collaboration
Good communication is important to business success, especially for companies handling multiple projects and tasks at once. Productivity tools like chat apps make it easier for workers, managers, and freelancers to touch base and share texts, files, and more.
This improved communication also results in better collaboration. People can get the information they need without hurdles.
Consistent communication and better collaboration also mean managers can stay on top of project progress, lessening the likelihood of projects slipping through the cracks. No more missed deadlines!
To improve efficiencies and streamline processes
At the end of the day, productivity tools are all about one thing: greater efficiency. Productivity tools simplify and even automate mundane tasks. Workers can then save their energy for more complicated jobs.
When everyday, routine processes are made easier, the entire company has more capacity to get more work done (and faster).
For example, take a job like social media management. It requires posting on multiple platforms, multiple times per day. That's on top of strategically planning and creating the content, which can include writing captions and researching or designing images.
Social media automation tools like Hootsuite allow for automated posting, so social pros can focus their energy on the creative (and fun!) side of the job.
Types of productivity tools
It's clear that productivity tools are useful. But which productivity apps and software will your company find useful?
Here's a quick overview of some of the best tools, along with examples in each category.
Productivity tools for time management
Time management tools are all about (no big surprise here) managing time! They make it easier for you to track how much time a person spends on a task or project so they can structure their workdays in the best way possible.
With these tools, team members can better prioritize their duties. Time management tools also let managers easily measure employee output, quickly calculating how long it takes each worker to do certain tasks.
For example, let’s say an employee has five deliverables to squeeze into an eight-hour workday. By sketching out how much time to devote to each task in advance, they can ensure they don't waste time and complete everything on their checklist.
Time management tools to consider for your business include:
This time-tracking software lets you monitor productivity by seeing how long it takes team members to complete set tasks. Time tracking can be automated using timer mode or completed manually. This is a great way to see if you're wasting valuable minutes on unimportant activities.
RescueTime is an app (Android/Apple iPhone and Windows/macOS/iOS compatible) that can be installed on mobile devices or desktop computers. It tracks how much time you spend using which apps. With this data, you can see where you're losing valuable minutes of the day (like scrolling TikTok 👀).
Toggle isn't just a time tracker. With this app, you can generate reports of worker hours and team progress. This is great for giving managers an overview of who is doing what (and how long it's taking them).
Productivity tools for project management
Project management tools make it easier to plan, organize, and track projects through their various stages. Managers can create a project schedule and assign deliverables to different team members, checking that they meet each milestone and reach the end goal.
Project management tools can be useful for supervisors, giving them an easy way to stay on top of workers' progress. Workers can also benefit from simplified collaboration, as they can touch base with other people working on a project via the tool.
For example, let’s say a manager is wondering about the progress on a certain deliverable. Without a project management tool, they might have to check with the person handling that deliverable, interrupting their work (and concentration). But if the worker keeps a status update in the project management tool, the manager can check there — no distractions needed.
Here are some project management tools that could benefit your business:
Trello is a web app to improve team cooperation. Team members create digital boards to track project progress, create to-do lists, and provide status updates. They can also interact, adding comments or voting on ideas. Trello offers some useful integrations, like Gmail and Google Calendar.
Asana is a customizable management system that's great for multi-purpose project and task management. You can use the workspaces to monitor projects, assign deliverables, and create templates to simplify tasks. It can also improve communication with a chat function and file sharing functionality. There's also a mobile app.
Todoist makes it easy to manage projects by giving multiple people access to a single project board. Users can monitor their own productivity while also checking in with others. Tasks can be added as one-offs or as recurring jobs, simplifying future planning.
Productivity tools for email and web management
Remember the time before the internet and email were part of everyday work life? Yeah, we don't either! These days, the web is an important part of pretty much every company's day-to-day operations.
There are productivity tools to help with email and web management. For example, browser extensions make it possible to see if emails have been received. People can then know when a follow-up email or phone call is needed (or not), saving time and hassle.
Here are some email and web management tools to check out:
This Gmail extension is like a small spy. It lets you see who has opened your emails, automatically sends follow-ups to nonresponders, and simplifies email scheduling. You can also add notes to emails.
This is a flexible messaging tool that integrates with your email. It makes it easy to share files, cutting down on those annoying email threads that drag on (and on and on). You can integrate Fleep with popular tools like Microsoft Outlook and Gmail.
If you use Google Workspace, this is a can't-miss tool. It allows you to visualize your email activity to see exactly how much time you're wasting on unnecessary emails. You can get stats on average email response time, for example, which is crucial information for customer service reps.
Productivity tools for better communication and coordination
Working well with other people is important in any team environment. Communication tools let workers and managers easily share files, chat live, and provide real-time updates on their work.
Collaboration tools can be especially useful for hybrid or remote teams. For example, video conferencing tools allow for a greater sense of connectivity and camaraderie between workers than basic email or chat.
Try these communication and coordination tools for your business:
If you're ready to cut back on emails altogether, Slack is a must. This team collaboration software integrates with tools you probably already use, like Dropbox and Google Drive. You can use it to chat with team members and send reminder notifications.
It's no secret that remote work has become increasingly popular and common in the past several years. While it's convenient, many people miss the face-to-face aspect of office life. Zoom video calls to the rescue! With this video conferencing tool, up to 500 participants can come together easily.
For a more dynamic video conferencing tool, give GoTo Meeting a try. You can transform a simple online meeting into a conference call with perks like screen sharing and highlighting tools, so you can mark important components on the screen.
Productivity tools to help concentrate at work
If people can't concentrate on their work, it will take them way longer to get it done. This can cause deliverable delays and missed deadlines (yikes!). Productivity tools can help eliminate distractions so workers stay focused.
One proven method of boosting focus is the Pomodoro technique, which breaks workloads into 20- to 30-minute chunks, with short breaks (three to five minutes) in between. Pomodoro-style apps let workers use the technique easily.
Check out some concentration-boosting productivity tools here:
This handy tool encourages better workplace habits by promoting the Pomodoro technique. Getting people to focus in short bursts of activity maximizes concentration. Plus, it records sessions in a timesheet for easy reference.
Taking meeting notes by hand? No thanks. Evernote is like your personal assistant, making it easy to capture and share notes. With this note-taking app, you can also add recordings, links, and attachments for comprehensive reporting.
Freedom is the ultimate distraction blocker. You can set it up to block apps and websites, keeping your focus on where it should be: your work. If you find yourself scanning social media mid-workday, this is for you!
Productivity tools for calendar management and scheduling
Meetings are an inevitable part of most people's workdays. Whether they're remote or onsite, scheduling and managing meetings is time-consuming. This is especially true when coordinating a lot of people with a lot of different schedules. Calendar management tools help.
For example, shared calendars make it easy to see when people have availability for meetings. It's also possible to set meeting reminders, saving time on logistics. Scheduling tools can even automate repeat meetings and send notifications, cutting out the need for additional planning.
These calendar management tools make it easier to schedule meetings:
This appointment scheduling software cuts down the time needed to coordinate meetings — no more back-and-forth email exchanges to find a time. Simply set your available hours in the tool and give the link to anyone who wants to schedule time with you. This handy app also integrates with Slack, Zapier, and Zoom.
This tool uses artificial intelligence to learn your day-to-day schedule. It then takes mundane duties like scheduling meetings and sending reminders for events off your hands. You can also access analytics regarding how you spend your time. Integrate the tool with iCal, Outlook, or Google Calendar for enhanced functionality.
This simple tool lets you manage and schedule meetings via your computer or mobile phone. The shared calendar function is especially useful for teams. You can also hook up your Google Calendar with your Google Tasks, making to-do lists a breeze.
Productivity tools for simplification of work
The simpler a job is, the faster it can be done. Makes sense, right? The most basic productivity tools are all about simplifying work-related tasks. From document sharing to invoicing and password management, many processes can be made easier with task management tools.
For example, take a job like password management. Most people have multiple passwords they need to remember. For company security, these passwords need to be complex, which makes recalling them even harder.
Password managers like LastPass make it easy to store log-in data securely, so people don't have to worry about getting locked out while maintaining security.
Here are some of the other highlights in this category:
Google Drive is a cloud-based document storage tool. You can upload files and share them with other people, simplifying collaboration. You can also leave comments and notes in documents themselves, making projects like editing content easier for all involved.
Oslash lets you create simple shortcuts to essential links. It eliminates the need for bookmarks or link copying and pasting. You can easily organize, manage, and share crucial links with teammates without spending time searching for a link over email or chat.
Zapier is meant to automate workflows. You can use it for several purposes. Start by designating a trigger, like receiving an email. You can then designate what that trigger should do — like copying any email attachments to your Google Drive and sending you a Slack alert. Zapier also has ready-made workflows.
OSlash empowers fast-moving teams with fast-moving shortcuts
Greater productivity is a common goal in the workplace. But just what does it take to get work done faster and easier? The tools we outlined in this article can help.
One task you definitely don't want to waste time on in the middle of a busy workday is tracking down and sharing complex, lengthy hyperlinks. Trying to find a particular invoice document in the middle of closing a deal could impact the success of landing that new business.
Enter OSlash. Rather than taking forever to find that document, OSlash lets you type o/invoice into your browser and have that document at your fingertips.
Take long URLs and make them into memorable shortcuts so they're easy to recall, store, and share. It's one less thing you have to worry about at work. What's not to love about that?