Procurement · 16 May 2017

Best business productivity apps for owners at small companies

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Which are the best business productivity apps for small firms?

For the next in our quarterly series highlighting the latest and greatest apps, Business Advice uncovers the best business productivity apps, to help both staff and owners at small firms make more of their time.

Being productive in business today depends on the software you use. Some business productivity apps can make you and your organisation more efficient, but some can become a waste of time, and be more trouble than they’re worth.

To help entrepreneurs and small business owners pin down the best business productivity apps for their venture, we’ve assembled a shortlist of five.

From innovative new kids on the block, to established tools from household names in tech, theses best business productivity apps will save you valuable time.

Todoist

TodoistList-style productivity apps exist in abundance, but this is considered one of the best. Todoist was launched in 2007 by US startup Doist, and has amassed millions of users.

What is it?

Todoist is a project management app designed to increase productivity, both amongst individuals and within small teams. It is cloud-based, letting users manage tasks on multiple devices and platforms.

Why should I use it?

Unlike some business productivity apps, Todoist is compatible with a wide array of platforms, including Andorid, Chrome, Windows, iOS and Mac, meaning that whatever device you’re using, it’s likely the app will work well.

The app can also integrate with the main email platforms, like Gmail, Outlook and Postbox, meaning you can use Todoist to manage tasks while simultaneously checking email and clearing your inbox.

The fact that it’s cloud-based means that if you have a lightbulb moment in the middle of the night, you can note it on your mobile and find a reminder for the task waiting on your computer when you arrive at work the next day.

How much does it cost?

The basic version of the app is free, but additional features, which help with collaboration amongst small teams, cost extra. For $29 a year, Todoist Premium offers tools like productivity tracking, project templates, file attaching and a labelling system for your projects.

RescueTime

Rescuetime 2Set up in 2008, the RescueTime app gives users a more accurate picture of how they spend their time every day, helping workers become more productive.

What is it?

The RescueTime app contains detailed reporting and goal-setting tools which show you those websites and apps you spend most time on throughout your working day.

It is designed to help you spot those little inefficiencies that can make a huge difference to your daily productivity.

Why should I use it?

It lets you block the sites you find most distracting, and allows you to set an alarm to tell you when you have spent too long on one website, meaning you no longer have an excuse for Facebook procrastination! It sends you a weekly email report so you can see the progress you’ve made over time.

In addition, RescueTime is available on PC, Mac and Android, so it can help boost productivity on whatever device your working on, including your mobile.

How much does it cost?

RescueTime Lite is the basic version of the app. It contains most of its key features and is free. RescueTime Premium costs $9 per month, or $72 per year, and with that users get further features like tracking on multiple devices, website blocking, alerts when daily goals are reached, and unlimited report history.

Inbox by Gmail

InboX GmailGoogle’s inbox app, launched in 2015, is an evolved version of Gmail. At its launch, Google’s mission statement was to offer a “completely different type of inbox, designed to focus on what really matters”.

What is it?

It’s an online app, available on desktop and on mobile through iOS and Android, that improves email productivity and organisation for individuals.

Inbox by Gmail scans the information in users’ incoming Gmail messages and gathers messages together in bundles that relate to the same overall topic.

Why should I use it?

It helps you manage your email more effectively to get you closer to achieving “inbox zero”. Features include the ability to “snooze” emails that aren’t urgent, to revisit later that day or week, and tools to remind you to leave enough time in the day for your most important tasks, or for you to do your expenses, for example.

Recently, Gmail added a “save to Inbox” feature, for sending yourself links. When you spot an article or website you want to delve into later, you can hit a share button and save it to your inbox automatically.

How much does it cost?

The basic version is free for those already using a Gmail account for their personal email. Those looking to use Inbox by Gmail as part of Google’s G Suite Business plan (with additional features and unlimited storage) will pay $10 per month.

Fantastical 2

Fantastical 2As calender apps go, this has consistently been voted one of the best. Originally launched in 2015 by US tech startup Felxibits, a major new update to Fantastical 2 came out in March last year.

What is it?

The Fantastical 2 calendar app includes features such as a full calendar window (with day, week, month, and year views), iCloud reminder support, light and colour themes, time zone support, birthday reminders and more, for Mac, iOS and Android.

Why should I use it?

It’s quick and easy to view your upcoming appointments. The app provides different calendar views that you can easily switch between so you can visualize events in the most helpful way to you.

Fantastical 2’s natural language parsing means you can type in phrases like “Meet Tom for lunch tomorrow at 12:30” and it will automatically create an event from your instruction.

In addition, the app can pick up existing accounts and calendars on other platforms, like iCloud, Google and Yahoo. Fantastical system preferences either automatically syncs with calendars on other platforms, or users can manually add in other accounts themselves.

How much does it cost?

Fantastical 2 costs $4.99.

Letterspace

LetterspaceNotebook app Letterspace, launched in 2015, uses hashtags to help users organize their thoughts while note-taking.

What is it?

It’s a note-taking app with a “swipe-to-move” cursor built in that behaves similarly to a Macbook track pad. Letterspace comes with several themes, a combination of background and link colours and options to set font sizes.

Why should I use it?

Most note-taking apps for phones and desktops can be cumbersome and disorganised. By using hashtags, Letterspace makes it far quicker and easier to organize your notes.

Unlike apps like Fetchnotes or Hashnote, which both also use a hashtag system for organizing users’ notes, Letterspace has a more intuitive design, with an inbuilt swipe bar making scrolling through notes simple. The app works across iPhone, iPad, and Mac.

How much does it cost?

For iPhone and iPad, Letterspace is free to download. For Mac users, the app costs $9.99.

Enjoyed our best business productivity apps feature?  Catch up with more of our favourite business apps from this series:  

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London. He previously worked as a reporter at Global Trade Review magazine.

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