Best productivity tools for your desk

Time is valuable, so it’s important to stay productive and maximize your working hours. If you’re looking for the best productivity tools, technology can help you improve your time management, track project status, and keep everyone involved in the loop. These tools are more than just helpful for many people; they often rely on them as crucial aspects of their day-to-day tasks.

Save time

It’s often challenging to keep up with an ever-growing workload, so finding ways to trim the time spent on various tasks is a great place to start. One example of a time-wasting practice that many companies still use is manual time tracking. When your employees arrive to work, they have to mark the time they sat down at their desks, when they got up for lunch, and what time they left for the day.

After they complete the time tracking sheets, their supervisors or other management professionals have to enter the information into a system to generate wages based on the time worked. It’s easy to fudge the numbers and add a few hours here and there, so you could end up paying an employee for hours they didn’t actually work. This is a substantial waste of time and money, so finding a tool that allows for automated time tracking can help to save both. Other productivity tools that save time include those designed for task management, automated invoicing, account management, and marketing.

Save money

The right productivity tools can also help your company save a lot of money. Some of these tools are free, so there is no reason not to try them. Even those that have a cost associated with them can help with cost savings, since your employees might be able to accomplish more during the workday. With the time tracking productivity tool previously mentioned, reducing mistakes (both intentional and those made by human error) will trim the cost of incorrect payroll processing. Because time is money, anything that helps you save time can also help save money.

Manage projects better

When you’re constantly having to follow up with team members to check the status of projects, you’ll end up wasting more of your time. With a project management tool, you can assign tasks to those involved. Each employee can track their own progress, making it easier to view the overall task and where it is in the process.

Best productivity apps

The main categories for the best productivity apps include organization, communication, and collaboration.

Organizational apps

Asana is designed for better organization between teams. It’s similar to a task list, but it eliminates the need to keep a notepad and pen nearby. The app costs $21 per month for up to five users, with the cost increasing slightly as you add more users. It does offer a free trial. With this app, you can track what tasks are assigned to which members of your team, allowing for better organization on collaborative projects.

Google Calendar is another option to help you manage your appointments, meetings, and, personal time. You can mark different tasks with color-coded notes, making it easier to see when you have a dentist appointment or a meeting with a client. It syncs across your computer and mobile devices so you can glance at the app when you arrive at the office and frequently throughout the day, as well as from home or when you’re on the road.

Google also has other organizational apps designed to keep documents and files in one place, yet shareable across multiple users. Google Drive, Google Docs, and Google Spreadsheets allow for better accessibility with options to chat and share notes on documents. All Google organizational apps are free, which makes them even more appealing to small business owners and those on tight budgets.

If your marketing department is looking for ways to improve its organization and project management, apps like HootSuite and Buffer can make it easier to share content and maintain a schedule.

HootSuite has been around for a while but it is still a popular option for scheduling and managing social media accounts. Many companies have a presence across several platforms, but logging into Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook every time you want to share a post is a waste of time. With a single sign-in on HootSuite, your social media manager can schedule posts up to several months in advance across all of the main platforms.

Buffer is a great solution for organizing content that your company produces as well as content you find on the web. A user simply sets up an account and links the company’s social media platforms, then sets up certain times of the day that posts should be shared with followers. Then, when you’re online and browsing for hot topics and interesting articles, you can simply click the integrated Buffer button, which puts the article in your queue to be shared in the next scheduled time slot.

Staying organized can help employees keep track of appointments, avoid wasting time on a task that someone else on the team is already working on, and find files quickly without searching through stacks of paperwork or computer folders.

Communication apps

With an ever-changing work environment and employees with unique expectations and needs, more companies are looking for ways to offer flexibility and alternative work schedules. While providing opportunities to work remotely or modify schedules is appealing, it can also make it difficult for team members to communicate with one another. Email is the most common form of communication in the office, although it can become overwhelming. In fact, many employees are reducing the frequency of email checks to avoid distraction and stay focused on a task.

Instead of sending more emails, consider using dedicated apps to manage communication among members of your team. If you have an urgent need, using an instant messaging app can allow for quick communication between employees. Other options include forum-style discussion boards where staff members can communicate with one another, as well as shared note-taking apps in which teams can share their notes, to-do lists, and other files.

Collaboration apps

When you’re sharing large files and keeping track of documents, Dropbox is one of the top choices. It allows an unlimited number of people to access the files, although you can restrict who has access to them. Dropbox also integrates with Microsoft email programs, including Office 365 and Hotmail, so it’s easy to co-edit files with others using the same program. The base level with a minimal amount of storage space is free, and the cost of more space is fairly reasonable.

Marketing departments often need quality content for blogs, websites, social media, and other online presences. Hiring a full-time copywriter is an expense that some small companies can’t afford, so hiring a freelancer is a good option. An app that can help with this requirement is Upwork.

According to Upwork, 90 percent of companies rely on freelance workers for at least a few tasks. Upwork has more options than just copywriters; you can find customer service reps, mobile and web developers, consultants, accountants, designers, sales and marketing experts, virtual assistants, and other creatives, all offering their services on a freelance basis.

If you’re struggling with keeping your employees on task, you’re not alone. Social media, blogs, games, and other online distractions are making it harder than ever to improve productivity and reach higher goals. Instead of keeping a close eye on your employees and how they spend their time, look at apps like StayFocused and Trackr.

StayFocused is an extension of the Google Chrome browser that blocks certain websites during working hours. You can also “go nuclear” through the app, which means it performs a hard block of a variety of sites or even the whole internet, allowing for better focus and less distraction.

Trackr is another option that tracks what websites an employee visits and how long they spend on them. You might be surprised to see just how much distraction happens during the day. A five-minute break to check social media can easily turn into a half-hour as they click links, read news stories, and look at photos.

With the right combination of tools, your company can improve productivity and make it easier to work as a team. There is a variety of tools and apps available, as well as new ones popping up every day, so your company can mix and match to get the right options for the unique needs of you and your employees.

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