Looking to grow your small business in 2019? Learn to work smarter, not harder, with these 7 productivity apps.
Running a small business is tough. To succeed, you need to make use of your often-limited resources.
This is when technology comes to rescue. There are countless software products that can make every aspect of your life (and work) easier.
As a self-funded startup, we learned firsthand that nothing is impossible as long as you have the right tools on hand. The key is to create a productive environment within your team and optimize as many routine tasks as possible.
The problem is, many popular team productivity apps are either too complex or too expensive for a small business. That’s why we’ve decided to share our top picks that offer the best value for money and are also easy to use.
1. Task-Tracking Apps Make Teams More Productive
The first step to your team’s productivity is to get a grip on your workload. Break it down into smaller, manageable tasks, and focus on solving one issue at a time. A good task-tracking app can help you keep your team organized at all times.
If you are looking for a perfect task management tool for small teams, try Todoist.
The business edition of this app comes with a standard set of task management features: creating projects, adding tasks, assigning tasks to specific team members, adding due dates, collaborating with your team members in comments, and sharing files.
On top of that, you get fresh insights into your performance and current progress.
Todoist’s productivity reports are data-driven and visual, so you can easily track your productivity ups and downs.
- Platforms: Desktop and mobile (including wearables). There’s also a browser extension or email plugin as a shortcut to easily create tasks when needed.
- Pricing: $29 per user, per year
- Alternatives: Trello, Any.do, Hitask
Apps like Todoist help your team keep track of tasks.
2. Project Management Apps Keep Teams Organized
If a simple to-do list is not enough to keep your team on track and on schedule, think about choosing a more powerful project management software.
Apps such as ClickUp take your task management to a whole new level. In addition to default capabilities such as creating tasks and assignments, setting due dates, and collaborating with your team members, you get a complete toolset of advanced project management features.
This means you can track KPIs, set budgeting, see current progress, and identify productivity bottlenecks with rich team insights and reports.
For example, you can see who’s behind on your team based on their number of overdue tasks, as illustrated above.
You can also customize the look of your board, task statuses, and even notifications. As a nice bonus, checklist templates allow you to save time creating and reusing custom process checklists.
The app seamlessly integrates with Slack, Google Drive, and Toggl, making it even easier to stay on track with your projects.
- Platforms: Web, desktop, and mobile. It also offers a Chrome extension and Gmail plugin and works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant using voice commands.
- Pricing: Free (with some limitations); the unlimited version of the app will cost $5 per user, per month.
- Alternatives: Asana, Zenkit, Flow, Monday.com
Apps like ClickUp help you manage your own tasks as well as team members’.
3. Time-Tracking Apps Hold Teams Accountable
Time-tracking software helps you keep your team on schedule.
Our pick in this category is Toggl: You pick a project or task you are working on (whether billable or not) and start a timer.
Toggl’s UI is simple and intuitive. Everything you need is right there, including a short summary for each day and an overview of the current week.
Toggl integrates with a number of other team productivity tools, such as Asana and Basecamp. This means you can import users, projects, and tasks instead of manually adding them to your time tracker.
In addition to automated reports that offer deep insights into your team’s productivity, Toggl has a set of useful features that can boost the efficiency of every team member, including shortcuts and a built-in timer.
- Platforms: Mobile, desktop, Chrome extension
- Pricing: Starting at $9 per user, per month (billed annually)
- Alternatives: Clockify, Harvest
A time-tracking app like Toggl will keep employees on-task.
4. Team Communication Apps Simplify Conversations
There’s no denying that Slack has become synonymous with team communication. Yet, there are even simpler and more affordable Slack alternatives.
One of them is Chanty team chat. Quite similar to Slack, Chanty offers internal communication with your team in the form of public, private, and one-on-one conversations.
The concept of simplicity makes Chanty a good fit for small businesses. Its simple UI and intuitive UX make it an easy-to-start and easy-to-use team chat. The learning curve for the app is quite low, meaning that you won’t be spending hours reading manuals and learning how to actually use the software.
Another benefit you receive with Chanty is an unlimited searchable message history in all plans (It’s limited by 10,000 messages in Slack and some of the other team communication apps).
To top it off, Chanty has a built-in task manager.
Using this handy feature, you can instantly turn every message into a task without adding any integrations. This makes communication within small teams even easier.
The app is also about to get even smarter with powerful AI features, integrations, and video calls. And, most importantly, it’s free to use while it is still in the early access stage.
- Platforms: Desktop and mobile
- Pricing: Free
- Alternatives: Google Hangouts Chat, Microsoft Teams, Rocket.Chat
An app like Chanty helps teams easily communicate with one another.
5. Collaboration Apps Make It Easy to Work Together
What can be more frustrating than emailing a document back and forth for days trying to finalize it with your colleagues? Luckily, there are multiple online collaboration tools that can help.
Google Drive, part of G Suite, is great for team collaboration and one of our default productivity tools.
It has everything you need to effectively collaborate with your team: creating or uploading documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, sharing them with your colleagues, editing in real-time, managing changes, and exporting them in any format you need, such as a Word document.
Multiple people can work on a document at the same time.
You can share a document with a specific person or simply make it accessible to anyone who has a link to it.
In this case, we (and 16 other people) have a “view only” access to the presentation. The author chose to share the presentation but not the ability to edit it. You can also give editing access to others.
As a nice bonus, offline mode in Google Drive can be helpful for those who may be somewhere without access to the internet. Don’t forget to enable it for the documents, sheets, or slides and access them anytime you need.
- Platforms: Web, desktop, mobile
- Pricing: Free to use (with default 15GB of storage). The G Suite subscription begins at $5 per user, per month.
- Alternatives: Dropbox, Box, OneDrive
Apps like Google Drive helps teammates collaborate on projects.
6. Task Automation Apps Free Up Time
Recurring, routine tasks can waste precious time. To save this time, try putting some of the processes on autopilot with apps such as Zapier.
Just connect the apps you use, set the triggers and actions (called “zaps”), and everything should run like clockwork.
All zaps are neatly organized and searchable in a single dashboard.
You can create, copy, move, edit, or delete your zaps. There’s also a complete activity log for each of your automation scenarios.
Zapier works with more than 1,000 apps, including G Suite tools, Slack, Asana, Toggl, and many others.
- Platforms: Web
- Pricing: Business plans start at $20 per month.
- Alternatives: IFTTT, Automate.io
Automation apps like Zapier give you more time to focus on other important tasks.
7. Personal Well-Being Apps Decrease Employee Stress
Your team is only as productive as its least productive member. That’s why you should cultivate a culture of mindfulness and personal well-being within your team.
It’s important to find some time to relax and recharge even during busy days.
Headspace is a tool that can help you with this mission.
Headspace offers hundreds of guided, bite-sized meditation sessions and special exercises to help you deal with stress at work.
- Platforms: Mobile (Android and iOS). The app integrates with Alexa and Google Assistant for hands-free access.
- Pricing: Starting at $7.99 per month (if you buy an annual subscription).
- Alternatives: Calm, Simple Habit, Aura
Personal well-being apps help lessen the stress of your employees, which can better their work habits.
Ready to Give Your Productivity a Boost?
There’s no way to work 8 hours without interruption. Procrastination and watercooler talks, long meetings, miscommunication, or tasks that just keep snowballing can hold back even the best and brightest team.
Automate routine processes, delegate secondary tasks, and organize your workflow. Make the apps we’ve listed above a starting point on your journey to a more productive workplace in 2019.