Running a small business means handling endless tasks. Staying organized, focused and sane through it all can be a challenge for any small business owner. By using productivity apps, it's easy to create one centralized place where you and your team can get things done. Let these programs do the work, and use the extra time earned to focus on growing your business.
Finding the best productivity apps
Finding the best apps for business doesn't have to be an never-ending mission. Finding the best apps for productivity depends on which tools would benefit your business most. Some services excel at time management, while others are geared exclusively at collaboration or specific tasks like invoices. For most organizations, time management, collaboration, tools for reminders, scheduling, and staying connected with distributed teams are the most valuable.
Additionally, mobile apps benefit businesses by meeting the needs of the modern workforce. Today's teams are often distributed, mobile and want the freedom to complete tasks or check in as needed on mobile devices. When choosing a service, a strong mobile presence is critical for avoiding hiccups in productivity.
We've rounded up some of the best apps for business and best productivity apps that can be a useful part of your team's software solution set.
Asana is a project management tool and business productivity app aimed at helping teams stay focused on goals, projects and hitting deadlines. Asana integrates goal-setting with a deadline schedule, so you can create projects, set goals and then manage each step of the process. Asana is also a great solution for task management, as you can create different boards to shift tasks between as they are completed or communicate with team members in threads under each task. Asana provides some tools to visualize where you are in your project, like project timelines or a team calendar view.
As a productivity tool, Asana provides small business owners with the capability to manage all their important tasks and goals in one place. It integrates with other workplace apps, such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, G Suite and others. Asana provides a free version with limited features for those who want to give it a try, with Premium, Business and Enterprise pricing for larger organizations that want an extended feature set.
Basecamp is a go-to collaboration solution for many organizations. Basecamp is a communication tool where you can manage projects, your team and companywide communication. Each designated project features different sections to help you better manage the process: a to-do list, a message board, a schedule, a place to save files and a "campfire" chat for general team communication. Threads are a pillar of the Basecamp model. This allows you and members of your team to get updated on the progress of an individual project or discussion with just a quick glance.
Basecamp is more expensive compared to some other solutions, but the company argues the features and capability make it a better solution than using a combination of other tools. Basecamp Business is available for $99 per month.
Microsoft OneNote is a robust note-taking app. It's a great solution for business owners who need to compile a lot of information on various projects in one place. The intuitive notebook layout makes breaking topics or projects into notebooks and sections easy. The program provides a lot of small features. If you copy a quote from an online source, for example, OneNote automatically includes the URL so you can reference it later. OneNote is also stylus-friendly, so on devices like an iPad, Surface, or stylus-friendly tablet, you're able to hand write notes or mark up your material. OneNote is free, with an Office 365 subscription required for deeper integration with the rest of the suite.
Monday.com is a program that, like Asana and Basecamp, focuses on organizing your tasks and creating a central point of communication for your team. You can easily create tasks within a project and add steps to each task or group tasks.
Real-time updates on activity and integrations with third-party services make Monday.com a productivity favorite. This app maintains a clear timeline of each project and creates knowledge bases in which you can store documents and other information related to your projects. Monday.com has a variety of plans for businesses to choose from.
This app builds a personalized sound profile based on the type of worker you are. It tailors productive music so you can stay focused and increase productivity. It breaks down your personality type based on the way you think, how you approach problems and how easily distracted you are. This is an ideal service for workers who work in public or open-office settings where it can be loud. Focus@will is $69 per year for a single license, with other pricing structures for teams.
Like Focus@will, Tide dials up calming sounds to keep you focused and alerts. It provides soothing nature sounds, like rain, and is a great choice for those who swear by the Pomodoro technique. Tide can regulate how long you're working and how long you take breaks, allowing you to be more productive for longer. It requires you to work and concentrate for 30 minutes to earn a five-minute break. This can also help with procrastination and allows you to stay fresh while working. Tide can be used to help you sleep and wake up in a more restful, natural way. Tide is a free service and has apps for Android and iOS.
Todoist is one of the best time-management apps on iPhone and Android. For personal items that need to get done, use gestures to start new tasks and click them off when done. Todoist Business is great for teams, as you can assign tasks to co-workers, set deadlines and add details so everyone is on the same page. The company provides impressive visualization tools as well, so you can view the progress you've made on the various projects you're working on. Todoist is free, with premium and business tiers available.
Trello is a good productivity app for process-based projects and tasks. Using Trello involves creating boards and dragging various tasks in between steps. It's a quick, easy, visual way to understand where each of your workers are in the process. You can set priorities on each task, add attachments, type messages, or assign each task to a group or label. You can also create individual boards for each project. Trello has a free tier with business and enterprise pricing.
IFTTT can be used to connect various apps and programs so all your devices are synced and working on the same page. For instance, you can use IFTTT to save new email attachments from Gmail directly to Google Drive. It can also be used to log every call you make to a Google spreadsheet. IFTTT is available for organizations that want to pursue deeper integrations with the many cloud-based services for business.
Zapier is an online service that connects apps you use for your business. It is similar to IFTTT, but is more focused on online business applications. You can sync all of your favorite apps, such as Gmail, Dropbox and Slack. This integration saves you time as you switch between applications and lets you quickly create workflows across platforms. Zapier offers a free tier, with additional pricing for small businesses or larger companies.
Slack remains a key piece of the productivity suite for small- and medium-size businesses that want a more real-time conversation with their teams. The app benefits businesses by grouping everyone (or select teams) into a chat room so that announcements, discussions or more informal chats can take place in one interface. Slack has many social media integrations. The core service is free, with paid plans offered for additional features geared toward businesses. Android and iOS apps can keep the conversation going on mobile devices.
12. Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams is the key competitor to Slack. Its main advantage is tight integration with the Office ecosystem. If your organization is already paying for Office 365 and heavy users of the key productivity apps, Teams offers a strong choice for organizations that want real-time chat features and deeper ties to the rest of the Office suite. Teams also have apps for Android and iOS devices.
Expensify tops the list for expense apps, promising one-tap expensing through the company's iPhone or Android app. Scan receipts, track mileages, and get the information converted to currency around the world. Expensify plans are available for individuals and groups with pricing structured on scanning and tracking capabilities.
14. Acuity Scheduling
If you want the best free scheduling app, Acuity Scheduling is a strong choice. The service vastly simplifies the process of scheduling appointments with clients to reduce the perpetual back and forth over email. Send reminders and follow-ups via email or SMS to reduce the chance that connections get lost. Acuity Scheduling is free, with additional pricing tiers for advanced features.
Matt D'Angelo also contributed to the reporting and writing in this article.