Staying organized is the name of the game when it comes to being successful. And while it seems like the world is always getting crazier, the productivity apps out there are keeping up with the demand. But there are literally hundreds of options, which makes it hard to figure out what is best.
Personal preference and personal style definitely play into it. But in the end, there are some really great apps out there that you can use to boost your productivity. Here are my favorites!
The Best Free Project Management Apps
If you’re going to be in business, then you definitely need some kind of project management system.
First Place: Trello
Trello is hands down my favorite project management system. It’s easy to use and you can make it very visually appealing. It functions very much like my favorite whiteboard systems, except instead of a dry erase marker, you just drag and drop. Plus with the optional power ups, you can really integrate it with just about any of your other software. It’s perfect for project management, marketing, and editorial calendars, and you can even use it as a base-level CRM. I don’t love it as a CRM, but it is functional. I love that you can easily copy tasks and checklists for each card (read: task) and that you can add photos to personalize tasks and the entire board.
Bonus: the free version is pretty robust, even for multiple team members. And, if you want more than one power up per board or more integrations, the paid version is very reasonable.
Free Productivity App Honorable Mention: Asana
Asana and Trello do a lot of the same things which makes Asana pretty darned awesome too. What I really love about Asana is the integrations it includes (that for Trello are power ups — like calendar, etc). However, for me, Trello is more intuitive, which is why it’s the winner in my book. But Asana is still a pretty great option.
The Best Free Graphics Apps
There will never be any replacement in my book for a graphic designer. They are awesome people who go to school for a long time to learn principles of design and how to use the software. They’re pretty much worth their weight in gold. But with that said, there are some great options for simple graphic creation.
First Place: Canva
Canva is so versatile and does so much. The free version is pretty awesome. I have the paid version because it gives access to images as well as some really great features (for example, the ability to download a png with a transparent background. If you haven’t played around with it, then I definitely encourage you to do so.
Free Productivity App Honorable Mention: WordSwag
WordSwag is awesome too! Right now it’s exclusive to smart phones, but it does some really cool things with your text. There are roughly a million and one options for your text. Plus, you can always go back and “re-swag” or add additional text to an existing design.
The Best Free(ish) Word Processing Apps
I hate to call this word processing, but that’s really where Microsoft Office and G-Suite (formerly Google Docs) fall into the scheme of productivity apps. And, even though Microsoft Office isn’t free, it still reigns king. However, Google is catching up, and fast.
First Place Tie: Microsoft Office
The thing with Microsoft Office is that it isn’t free, necessarily, but it does come on most computers, and at around $100/year for multiple users and devices in a household, it’s really reasonably priced. It does things that Google Docs doesn’t do as well yet, from track changes, to mail merges. That’s really why it’s a clear winner here.
First Place Tie: G-Suite
Google Docs and G-Suite, in general, are perfect for communications. Multiple people can work within the same documents simultaneously, and it’s super easy to integrate and send documents via Gmail/Gsuite-based emails. You can easily download Google docs and open in the Microsoft Suite, and similarly, you can upload Microsoft Suite files into Google and convert them to Google. Google docs truly is free, which gives it an edge over Microsoft Office if you truly have to choose between them, especially for major programs like Word and Excel.
The Best Free Communications Apps (not email)
In the age of VoIP and video calls, nothing is so last century as a traditional phone call, even on a smartphone. There are so many options available to us all here!
First Place: Zoom
Zoom is awesome. You can do video conferencing, webinars, audio conferencing, group phone calls, and everything in between all from within the app. And for most of us, all we need is the free version. It’s totally worth your time to learn about and dig into.
Free Productivity App Honorable Mention: Skype
I’m not a big Skype fan. I have had more problems with it than not. However, it’s pretty powerful in what it can do when it’s working well, so it belongs on this list.
Free Productivity App Honorable Mention: Google Voice
Want to have a call but don’t want to give out your personal number? Google Voice is here to help you!
Free Productivity App Honorable Mention: Loom
Loom is a great free video software that lets you record videos and then share instantly via links. What’s more, you can also get notifications when someone watches your videos!
The Best Free Presentation Apps
First Place: Google Slides
Step down PowerPoint, Google Slides is here. It’s powerful, and it’s super easy to use. The same things we love about Google Docs make us love Google Slides, too. There’s just so much more you can do with it.
Free Productivity App Honorable Mention: Canva
Canva has super rich graphics. It’s why we love it for creating presentations too. You can develop some gorgeous slides and then convert to a shareable link.
Bonus: Another Great Free Communications App
Free Productivity App Bonus: Boomerang
I absolutely love Boomerang. It’s fantastic if you have set business hours, but are working outside of them. So what happens if it’s 8 pm and you need to send updates to your clients, but don’t want the emails to hit the inbox until business hours again? You write the updates and schedule them. That’s where Boomerang comes in. It’s an incredibly handy extension for Gmail on Chrome browsers. And the free version is perfect for occasional use — your credits will replenish each month. If you’re going to be using this heavily, there is a paid version that’s super affordable.
There are hundreds more great apps and Chrome extensions out there that can really streamline your productivity and get you on the road to success. These are some of my favorites! Do you have any favorites that you truly love?