It’s frustrating, isn’t it?
You want to get more done.
But mastering productivity feels like an uphill battle.
Fortunately, a productivity system is a simple and effective solution.
But once you have that in place, how do you keep up your productive habits?
With productivity apps.
We’ve sifted through dozens of apps to find those apps that are most useful to you. Today, you’ll learn all about the best office productivity tools so you can finally beat procrastination.
1. RescueTime: Improve your productivity
Feel like you work all day, but don’t really have the results to show for it at the end of the day?
You might be procrastinating without noticing it. You know, you read a news article or scroll through your Facebook feed “because it’ll just take a few minutes.”
Fortunately, there’s an app for it:
RescueTime tracks your time online. It records the time you spend on different websites. Then it categorizes the website into a specific category, depending on if the website you visited is “work” or “unproductive time”.
So how do you best use RescueTime to become more productive?
Use the tool for a week.
At the end of your test week, go through your data. At what time during the day do you become unproductive? In the morning? Afternoon?
And how much time do you actually spend on all those unproductive websites? The result might surprise you…
With RescueTime, you know how you use your time online. Now it’s so much easier to take action and stop using websites that take up a lot of your time.
But tracking time is just one part of the equation.
If you want to keep things focused and organized, you need a system for keeping track of them. Enter our second office productivity tool:
2. Evernote: Keep organized
Productivity is all about focusing on the right things. If you fail to do it, you use brainpower on things that don’t matter.
You don’t keep productive and fail to achieve those important things that make a difference.
So, how do you keep organized?
Evernote is a tool for storing everything. In the company’s own words, it’s “your second brain.”
The thing with Evernote is that it can save you tons of time and brainpower. (That is, brainpower you can use on more important stuff.)
But you need to use Evernote properly. And here’s how:
1) Create a new notebook as a category.
To keep things clear and categorized, start a notebook for each subcategory.
For example, create a new notebook for a work project instead of saving notes in a general “Work” notebook.
2) Add notes to your notebooks.
Your notes can be formatted and shared in Evernote. For example, you can add checkmarks to create to-do lists and include documents from your Google Drive.
3) Add tags to your notes.
Tags help you find your documents.
So, I recommend you keep a set amount of descriptive tags. For example: “Project research”, “To read”, “To-do list”, and so forth.
That’s it. Use this system for keeping track of your most important information.
Ready for a simple app that’ll help you focus in your everyday work?
Here you go…
3. Pocket: Focus online
If you feel guilty about getting distracted when you work online, don’t.
Just think about it. There are millions and millions of distractions online.
And our brains love distractions. Plus, our self-discipline is limited.
It’s a wonder that you don’t spend the entire day binge-watching Netflix!
But not to worry. This app will help you take control over your online time.
You see, Pocket is a simple solution to this frustrating problem.
You simply add an extension to your browser’s menu bar.
Whenever you come across content, such as an article or a video, that you want to check out, you click on the Pocket button.
This saves the content to your Pocket account. And to keep things neat and organized, you can add a tag.
Then, when you want to catch up on your reading list, you go to your Pocket account. Here you find the content you’ve saved. And with tags, you make it easy to find the right stuff.
Carve out time in your calendar to use on distracting articles. So, let’s say you allocate two hours every Monday and Friday afternoon to reading and watching articles and videos.
Simple, right? Now you don’t have to worry about getting sucked into endless YouTube videos or interesting articles.
4. Minute: Hold effective meetings
Meetings take up a lot of your time.
According to some reports, up to 31 hours a month.
You need to communicate back and forth every day. Create and update an agenda, make sure everyone has the same version of all documents, follow up after the meeting, and so forth.
So if you wonder why you never seem to have enough time at the office, here’s the solution:
You need a meeting tool.
We’ve poured thousands of hours into creating one that doesn’t just look pretty but actually helps you hold better meetings.
Here’s how it works:
In the Minute app, you add agendas and minutes.
You can share them with your co-workers. They add their own notes and comments directly to the shared documents. And you can add documents from Google Drive to make sure everyone has the latest version.
When the meeting starts, all documents are safely stored in one place. (You avoid all that paper shuffling and wasting time on discussing the things you’ll discuss at the meeting.)
And after the meeting, people can keep up to date with their tasks.
With this meeting tool, you shave off several hours of back-and-forth emailing.
And that’s our ultimate goal here at Minute:
To make your meetings more effective.
Keep track of your projects with Asana.
5. Asana: Keep track of your projects
Ever worked with projects that have A LOT of moving parts? Then you know just how difficult it is to keep track of them.
And not only your own tasks. Managing other people’s work is even harder.
So what can you do to make your project management more effective?
Asana works either as a “to-do” list or a “Kanban” board.
The “to-do” list works like a normal to-do list where you check off items as you finish them.
The difference is that Asana allows you to add information, like descriptions and comments.
But the “Kanban” board is where things get really interesting.
A Kanban board lets you sort tasks in different columns. Each column shows how far you’ve come with each task.
So, for example, you might use the categories: “Tasks”, “Working on”, and “Done”.
Under “Tasks”, you add your to-dos. Under “Working on”, you add those tasks that you’re currently working on. And under “Done”, tasks that you’ve finished.
You and your co-workers can add things like due dates, files, and comments.
Will project management with a Kanban-style board make it a lot easier?
6. Boomerang and Slack: Manage your email inbox
If there’s one thing that takes up your time, it’s this:
Emailing and managing your inbox.
And let’s face it:
Emailing is a low-value activity. Instead of spending all your time on email, you could use it to get more important tasks done.
So what can you do about it?
I know just the app for you… Or, should I say apps.
You see, emailing is all about communication. And today, there are better ways to communicate and manage your emailing habits. Here, two office productivity tools are particularly useful.
Let’s break it down.
First, manage your inbox.
Instead of checking your inbox all day, check it and send emails at set times. So, for example you check emails every day at 12 PM and 4 PM.
“But this doesn’t work for me,” you might think. “I have to send emails throughout the day.”
If that’s the case, use Boomerang.
Boomerang is an email tool that lets you schedule your emails so they’re sent at specific times.
What more, this productivity tool lets you re-send emails to yourself. Say, for example, that you get an important message when you’re working on your emails at 12 PM.
You know you won’t be able to write a thorough response right then and there. So you Boomerang it back to your inbox at 4 PM so that you don’t forget about this email.
Second, find more effective communication channels.
Email is a powerful tool… But not always the most effective way to communicate with your co-workers.
If you have a quick question, your email clogs up your co-worker’s inbox. And somewhere along the way, your email thread becomes too long and you lose track of things.
In these types of situations, Slack can be a better alternative.
Slack is a simpler tool than email to discuss with your co-workers. For example, you can tag certain chat participants to notify them of something that concerns them.
But as with email, you want to make sure you’re not wasting your time on Slack.
Let your co-workers know that you’re going to check it at set times. And disable notifications so you don’t get distracted by them.
Conclusion: Use these 6 apps to improve your productivity
So there you have it:
Our 6 best office productivity tools to help you get your work done.
Want to use what you just learned?
Start with one app, learn how to use it properly, and then move on to the next.
Mastering productivity takes time. But in the end, it could mean hundreds of saved hours and a lot less stress.
Over to you:
What’s your favorite business productivity tool? Let us know in the comments below.