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20 Online and App Resources to Help You Boost and Improve Productivity

20 Online and App Resources to Help You Boost and Improve Productivity

You probably have a smartphone in your hand, or really close by, and somewhere near, your email client is open. You are constantly on the lookout for the newest email, tweet, like, invite or any other kind of notification that can give you the latest info on your current project. Being this busy comes with its own drawbacks, as it can be pretty tiresome which all can lead to a big decrease in productivity.

Because of this, true professionals are constantly trying to find the newest, most effective shortcut that will make their day a bit easier. There are so many different productivity apps that are already available on the market, both for Android, iOS and the still developing Windows Phone. It is important to know how to choose the app that is perfect for you and your needs, and that will suit your style the most. We’ve come up with 20 of the best apps that will definitely help you increase your workplace productivity and facilitate faster workflow.

1. 1Password (Android, iOS, Windows PC, Chrome Extension, Website)

1password

    First and foremost, it is your duty to protect your accounts with a strong password, and use different ones for each account. But this quickly becomes difficult, especially if you are using the internet on a daily basis, simply because there are so many websites, so many account names, and you can easily be fooled into using a single password, and once it is discovered, all your accounts are in danger. 1password is developed with this in mind, and it puts all your passwords into a single place and keeps them secure, furthermore, it offers the possibility of generating extremely difficult random passwords that you will not have to remember. It is available on every platform, making sure that you do not have to think about your passwords ever again. It will automatically sync with your smartphone, and your PC or Mac, so that you have access to your accounts everywhere you go.

    2. Pocket (Android, iOS)

    Pocket

      If you work with social networks, you are constantly intrigued with interesting headlines and funny videos, but it is simply impossible to dedicate your time to reading everything you come in contact with and get your work done at the same time. Because of this, it is best to simply bookmark everything you want to read to watch for later, and this is where Pocket comes into play. It is actually Read It Later which went under a complete service overhaul, which enables you even to save all the interesting stuff for a later viewing, even in offline mode.

      3. Buffer (Android, iOS, Website)

      Buffer

        If your job involves dealing with social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn, then you should really try taking advantage of apps like Buffer which will give you total control over when and what you post. You can schedule your future tweets, posts and any other content at a predetermined time, and this app will do the rest. Furthermore, this application will also provide you with detailed metrics on how a particular post is performing, how many clicks, likes, retweets or shares it is getting.  This app is quite simple to use, and you only need to setup your account by connecting it with your other social network profiles. If you want the Business plan, it will cost you $50 and up.

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        4. Google Keep (Android, Chrome Extension, Website)

        Google keep

          With so many note applications it is hard to choose the right one, but when in doubt – trust Google. While this app appeared without any hype, it is characterized by a simple user interface that, like every other Google app, has a deep integration with other services. You can easily create a whole note board and stick anything and everything you want, however you want it, from snippets, checklists but also photos and reminders. It will back everything up on Google Drive, so you don’t ever have to worry about using it.

          5. Mailbox (Android, iOS)

          mailbox

            Mailbox is a simple and minimalistic email client that will help you organize your overcrowded inbox with simple gestures. It currently supports Gmail and iCloud accounts and you can easily swipe messages to archive them or send them to trash, or simply snooze them until later when they will reappear at the top of the list – enabling you to focus on what is important right now. This application also learns about your frequent actions, learning to snooze unimportant conversations, or even automatically muting others.

            6. Quip (Android, iOS)

            Quip

              If you work in a big team that relies a lot on collaborative tools, then you must have heard about Quip. This app creates an interesting mix of integrated messaging and instant group editing of files. With this app you will be able to create, import and share different document types, notes, to-do lists and quickly edit them with everyone on your time. It works well with Dropbox, Google Drive and Evernote, and when you are done you can save your files as universal PDF and other Office formats.

              7. Basecamp (Android, iOS, Website)

              Basecamp

                While a basecamp could be used as a good solution for a whole company, it also offers a possibility for individual use where you can keep track of your current projects or to-do lists, with the possibility of adding documents directly from Google Drive. If you do not want to use Google Drive, it offers its own storage space where you can upload your own files, but for additional space you will need to buy a storage plan. Basecamp is free for individuals and small businesses, but it has a limit on how many active projects you can have at one time, but it offers many different plans that will suit everyone’s pocket.

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                8. Microsoft Office 365 (Android, iOS, Website)

                MS office 365

                  There are those among us that rely on the Microsoft ecosystem, especially you use Windows’ cloud capabilities. With these apps you will be able to access all your Office files on Android and iOS operating systems. While the baseline options are free, if you would like to use cloud capabilities you will need to pay a subscription fee, and even though it might not be the best file editing tool, it is good for heavy Microsoft users.

                  9. Asana (Android, iOS, Website)

                  Asana

                    If you need something to keep you organize, but you find Basecamp lacking, then Asana might just be the thing for you. Not only does it offer a better overview of all your current projects, but it also allow you much greater freedom when creating, editing and assigning tasks, diving them into projects and granulating to-do lists as much as you need. It can totally replace using emails inside your office, and because it is available on your smartphone you will stay in touch with everything you need to know, without missing out on a single update.

                    10. Expensify (Android, iOS, Website)

                    Expensify

                      Working in an environment where you constantly need to track expenses can sometimes be quite tiresome, and there is almost no room for errors. Apps like Expensify can track everything you need, and the best thing – it is completely free. It offers different features, so you can save receipts simply by taking picture of them and the software will automatically analyze them. It can even track mileage with your phone’s GPS so that you can later claim refunds at your office if it was a business trip. All of these things will also be accessible across all platforms and on their website, for your convenience.

                      11. Refresh (iOS, Website)

                      Refresh

                        This app currently available only for iOS, can help you remember who you are meeting, and give you a few insightful facts about them. It has the option of syncing with your Gmail, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and it even promises to incorporate new social networks in near future, so that whenever you have an upcoming meeting, it automatically searches for the people you are about to see, and prepares a detailed report about them. You will be able to see when their birthday is, when you first met, but it can also Google them, and display any latest news articles that they either published or were mentioned in.

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                        12. Google Hangouts (Android, iOS, Website)

                        Google Hangouts

                          With a plethora of different instant messaging services, it is hard to select a single one. You have WhatsApp, Viber and even Facebook’s Messenger app, but Google Hangouts combines all of this, with Google’s other services, video conference calls and other Skype-like capabilities. You are free to use the app free if you need it for simple messaging, and simple video calls but for other voice services you will need to pay per minute, which but at least you will not have to worry about different carriers and you will only need to have a decent internet access.

                          13. Sunrise (Android, iOS)

                          Sunrise

                            It is sometimes easy to forget how important calendar apps really are. Sunrise is one of those simple, yet elegant solutions to an everyday problem, and it was doing its job so efficiently that it was acquired by Microsoft for just $100 million. This app can seamlessly connect to all other major calendar services, making sure to combine all sources adequately so that you do not miss a meeting ever again. It also has social networks integration, meaning that it can look up a person on LinkedIn so that you see the picture and profile page of the people you are having a meeting with. It is simple, beautiful, and it does exactly what it says – and not to mention, it is totally free.

                            14. IFTTT (Android, iOS)

                            IFTTT

                              Repetitive tasks can be easily automatized by this app, which offers almost an endless amount of possibilities that can be done for you. You can create your own custom order, so that every time you open an email app, your Wi-Fi and data packets are turned on. The name might sound strange but it is actually a short for IF This Then That, so the next time you take a picture, it can automatically be uploaded to any cloud service you want, or to your Instagram account, and the amount of triggers and possible options grows every second, ranging from different devices, applications, and services.

                              15. Timeful (iOS, Website)

                              Timeful

                                If you ever wondered what you must do in order to make your schedule more efficient – look no further. Like most apps nowadays, Timeful is designed in such a way as to learn your behavior and offer better solutions that will not only improve your efficiency, but give you more room to relax. It is actually a mix of a calendar app and a to-do list, and based on your habits it suggest new routines that can help you do things faster.

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                                16. Any.DO (Android, iOS)

                                any.do

                                  Lists are all around us and it is only a matter of finding the right one. Any.DO is a solid, minimalistic solutions that is ready for all Android and iOS users to experience, offering everything from the simplest to-dos to lists that you can share with your co-workers and calendar alerts that can be synced with your Google services. It can even automatically turn all your missed calls into a to-do item that you will never forget about.

                                  17. Evernote (Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Website)

                                  Evernote

                                    This app is your next best friend, and your online notepad. It is used to collect everything you visit online, from photos, web pages, different files including PDF and audio clips. It offers quick indexing service, meaning that no matter how much stuff you keep adding to it, you can easily find on every device. With Evernote, you will never again have to make endless list of bookmarks in your browser and you will be able to quickly revisit all the important information. Use a Chrome extension in order to quickly save everything you need, and revisit it later on your smartphone.

                                    18. TripIt (Android, iOS, Website)

                                    Tripit

                                      This app is a must have for anyone who travels a lot. While the initial service is completely free, it also comes with a pro-version that costs $49 a year. You only need to send all travel related emails, such as your confirmations, reservations, and receipts to a special email address where all of this is automatically organized for you into a calendar-like schedule. With a pro version, you can track your plane to see whether it is late, what the weather is like, and it even offers a possibility of finding alternative routes if your primary one becomes cancelled.

                                      19. NotesPlus (iOS, Website)

                                      Notes Plus

                                        For those artistically inclined, having to write down memos on virtual keyboard must be quite a bore. If you prefer an old-fashioned pen and paper approach, this app is as close as it gets to having a real notebook in your hands. It comes with different functionality to automatically turn your writing into text. All actions can be done with a stylus, circling around notes, drawings and text can select it, the only downfall being that there is no free version, and it is currently not available on Android.

                                        20. Google Docs (Android, iOS, Website)

                                        Google Docs

                                          While it is usually not necessary to mention anything made by Google, such as its next-to-perfect email client, or its file-storage service, Google Docs are a whole other story. While Google Docs app was mostly developed as an extension for Google Drive, it is actually a robust platform that not only allows you to seamlessly share files, edit them on different platforms and computers, it is also an excellent collaboration tool. If you find yourself frequently using Microsoft Office, you might want to try and switch to Google’s solution. Not only that it is completely free, but it offers standard integration with all other Google services, such as Google+ and Gmail. Furthermore, it offers the possibility of multiple users editing a single document at the same time, which can be an extremely efficient way of either brainstorming, or finishing up a project at the last minute.

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                                          Ivan Dimitrijevic

                                          Ivan is the CEO and founder of a digital marketing company. He has years of experiences in team management, entrepreneurship and productivity.

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                                          Last Updated on January 6, 2021

                                          14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

                                          14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

                                          Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

                                          In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

                                          For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

                                          For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

                                          Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

                                          Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

                                          Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

                                          How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

                                          Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

                                          1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

                                          Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

                                          For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

                                          2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

                                          Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

                                          Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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                                          Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

                                          3. Create a System

                                          Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

                                          This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

                                          You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

                                          Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

                                          Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

                                          4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

                                          We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

                                          If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

                                          Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

                                          Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

                                          5. Use a Ratings Scale

                                          Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

                                          Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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                                          It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

                                          6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

                                          This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

                                          You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

                                          You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

                                          7. Offer Feedback Forms

                                          Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

                                          First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

                                          Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

                                          You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

                                          8. Track Cost Effectiveness

                                          This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

                                          Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

                                          Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

                                          9. Use Self-Evaluations

                                          Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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                                          Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

                                          10. Monitor Time Management

                                          This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

                                          Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

                                            The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

                                            While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

                                            11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

                                            We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

                                            Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

                                            For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

                                            Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

                                            Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

                                            From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

                                            12. Utilize Peer Feedback

                                            This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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                                            Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

                                            Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

                                            It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

                                            13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

                                            When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

                                            Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

                                            Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

                                            14. Use an External Evaluator

                                            Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

                                            They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

                                            While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

                                            Final Thoughts

                                            These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

                                            The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

                                            The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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                                            Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

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