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By: Act! Blog
Quick question before you read this post - how much of your to-do list have you ticked off today?
If the answer is “not much” or if you don’t even have a to-do list then read on my friend. At least one app mentioned in this article will significantly improve your productivity.
In today’s market, mere ownership of the right resources is no longer enough to stay competitive. There is a need to manage your resources efficiently, if you want to stay ahead of the ever-multiplying number of marketing activities needed to stay competitive.
Luckily, for every problem there is a solution and one of the most reliable ways that businesses can accomplish tasks quicker and more effectively is through the use of apps. There is an app for practically every situation, whether you aim to stay organised, minimise distractions, or communicate more efficiently with the overall strategic aim of helping you save time by executing your projects faster and seamlessly.
To help kickstart your journey towards better productivity, we have curated a list of the best productivity apps (in no particular order) designed to save you time, money, reduce distractions and improve your work output. These productivity tools are not niche-specific, and they fit a broad range of workforce sizes, so whether you’re a solo operator or you manage a number of employees, there’s something here for you.
Slack is essentially the Swiss Army knife of team communications. It allows team members to communicate effectively and efficiently, with mobile and desktop versions, which are just as good as each other. The robust mobile app is particularly helpful for small scale business owners without a physical “location”, or those who rely on virtual assistants. It comes with an assortment of features such as audio and video calling and the app can be integrated with some of the tools you already use such as Mailchimp, Google Drive and Salesforce - allowing information to be shared efficiently across platforms. Slack also makes file-sharing easy, as it allows you to easily upload and share files like Word Documents, JPEGs, MOVs, PDF files and files from Google Drive. Many teams use Slack as an email alternative, as the potential to get side-tracked by distracting emails is removed and it eases conversation amongst team members, making it easier to keep track of discussions and files.
Sometimes it’s not finding the right tools for the job that takes time, it’s transferring data from one platform to another that puts the real drain on time and resources allocated to a project. Zapier excels in creating connections (or ‘zaps’ as they are commonly known) between apps, helping you seamlessly share information between applications. For example, you could set up a connection between your Trello board and your Slack channel so that details of any new tasks put on Trello are ‘automagically’ sent to a Slack channel. The best part of this is that these integrations can be created very quickly, and without the need to hire a coder. By semi-automating repetitive, laborious tasks, you can effectively accelerate the speed and efficiency of your projects.
Act! Companion is basically the “Google” of your customer database, which helps you find and manage the information you hold about your customers more efficiently. The mobile and desktop-friendly app enables you to gain insights into your customer data by tracking their interactions with your business. If you need to add a prospect or update a customer’s phone number, easy - you can create, delete, and even scan business cards on the go. If you wake up in the middle of the night wondering where a certain customer is on your sales pipeline, just whip your phone out for access to your opportunities in a variety of formats. You can stay organised with a view of your calls, meetings, to-dos in both calendar and list views. You can also create “customer segments” to ensure that you can further personalise your marketing and reach the right customer with the right sort of information.
Studies show that humans process images 60,000 times faster than plain text, so Act! Companions graphic dashboard helps you easily understand your data by visualising metrics such as the health of your sales pipelines, leads closed by your reps, your top-performing products and so on. Act! Companion gives you control over vital customer information and offers you the tools that you need to build stronger long-term relationships with them.
Trello is a project management tool trusted by big brands such as Google, Forbes, National Geographic, Wired, and Redhat. The app increases your productivity by allowing you to break large, sizeable tasks into smaller, easy-to-execute portions. This is all possible by Trello’s signature “card” system which allows you to create cards for every task. These cards offer the overall benefit of making project execution faster and more enjoyable through its visual platform. Trello also supports integration with other apps and uses two-factor authentication to keep your projects secure.
G-Suite is Google’s free solution to cloud computing, collaboration and productivity. Within the suite of individual apps, you can very quickly and easily create and share documents (Google Docs), spreadsheets (Google Sheets) and even presentations (Google Slides). You can also hold video team meetings, access your emails, secure your data, and customise your e-mail address to make it appear more professional. You may not need every single functionality that G-Suite offers, but the right app could potentially transform your business and productivity.
G-Suite also offers you access to up to 15GB cloud storage space, allowing you to upload and share large files with your team easily - but it goes further than simple file-sharing. You define how your recipients access each file that you create, and you can allow recipients to “view only”, “edit file” or fully access and edit. G-Suite is easy to use, secure, can easily be accessed across different devices, and there is 24/7 support team you can reach through phone calls, email, or even via chat.
If you like working in a clutter-free environment, and find post-it notes a leech on your productivity, you might want to try Evernote. Evernote is the productivity software that ‘understands’ that ideas can strike you anywhere, at any time, and through any means, and it helps you capture and organise these ideas as they come. The app allows you to record your ideas on-the-go, whether you want to type them in, save them as voice memos or pictures, or even upload raw files that you find. Your notes can be turned into to-do lists by adding check boxes to specific sections, and you can turn whole notes into reminders by sending email alerts for important tasks.
Have you ever wished you could quantify how many “man-hours” your team spent on a project? Enter Toggl - the time management tool that helps you track the number of hours spent on executing a project. By accurately tracking how much time you spend on a project, you can better understand how to adjust your production process to free up time and get more done. This insight will also help you understand your services from a production labour perspective, helping you determine how much to charge for your services.
In this day and age, the role that social media plays in customer engagement cannot be underestimated, and when it comes to getting success from social media marketing, consistency is key. But consistency takes a lot of time, and that's where Hootsuite comes in. Hootsuite allows you to schedule and update posts across popular social media channels - Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, and even WordPress. The premium version gives you access to analytics tools such as social analytics and audience engagement, which offer you some insight on how well your posts are doing.
There is no contesting the fact that visually appealing communication styles outperform text-based communication styles, and this has been backed by countless studies. But graphic design takes time and skill and in many cases, a commitment towards learning new graphic design platforms. Not with Canva, though. Canva is a visual graphic-design tool which helps you create unique marketing materials for social media and even for print - posts, brochures, portfolios, colourful slides with little or no graphic design knowledge. What’s more, Canva provides over 1000 pre-designed templates which are easy to edit to match your brand, royalty-free HD images, unique fonts, and the opportunity to add customized brand colors to your designs. Canva is an essential productivity tool which can drastically reduce the time you spend creating visually-appealing graphics for your brand.
If you are part of a distributed team, there comes the point where file-sharing and screenshots don’t just work. In situations where you actually need to view or even remotely gain access to a colleagues screen in real time, TeamViewer offers the ideal solution. With TeamViewer, you can collaborate with up to 300 team members on a shared screen using audio, video, or text, and meetings can be recorded and accessed at a later date.