The Top 10 Business Productivity Tools For 2018

Being able to complete tasks and meet deadlines sounds easier than it is, but we professionals are not alone—increasing productivity at work is a struggle for many.

Most professionals find it challenging to take care of big projects, organize their work environment, or choose the best new technologies to implement. Providing resources is important for both companies and the self-employed, as workers with the right tools end up being less stressed and more productive. According to Gallup and Tower Watson, employees who are engaged are 27 percent more likely to report on having “excellent” performance. Additionally, the 57 percent who say they’re too stressed at work feel less productive and disengaged. Getting fewer things done and being less connected hurts the bottom line, so everyone should be concerned with how to improve business productivity.

There are endless tips out there that will tell workers to stop multitasking, take more breaks, and set small goals. While those are all true, it’s hard to know how to start implementing new changes and work rituals. Plus, it’s difficult to measure productivity altogether. That’s why the following tools have been so popular recently—they help professionals be more effective at work and develop better habits. The career-bound can learn how to manage their work day, collaborate with their team, and manage clients and partnerships with the top 10 business productivity tools of 2018.

Astro Mail
Astro Mail is a modern, free email and calendar app for devices like Mac, iOS, Android, Slack, and Amazon Alexa. It’s powered by artificial intelligence and is trusted by popular people and teams at companies like Microsoft, Salesforce, T-Mobile, and Nike. One of Astro’s best features is combining a user’s email and calendar together in one place. Plus, its AI-powered assistant helps users focus on the most important items. Astro’s apps can assist you in prioritizing emails, suggesting follow-ups, and getting users to inbox zero. Astro conveniently connects with Gmail and Office 365 email addresses with the goal to have everyone spending less time emailing and getting more work done.

Think of the Astro assistant like a chatbot. The Astrobot will welcome a user good morning and ask how it can help them for the day. Users can tell it something like, “Archive all my emails from John in the last 7 days.” There is also the ability to send the Astrobot text and voice commands or check out suggestions for managing the inbox. Instead of switching between email and calendar apps, Astro allows users to see everything that’s happening each day on the same platform. This includes reminders, scheduled emails, and snoozed emails all in one place. Like other email clients, users will get a priority inbox, a swipe option, and the choice to unsubscribe from emails. There’s also features like open tracking, sending emails later, and adding a custom signature.

As of the date of this posting, Astro Mail has been joined with Slack.

Basecamp
Basecamp is a popular project management system that gets thousands of business sign-ups every week. Most teams experience cluttered emails, scattered Word documents, and unorganized chat threads which leave their team frustrated and out of the loop. To solve these communication gaps and avoid extra work, Basecamp combined all the tools teams need to get things done.

With over 200,000 accounts signed up since 2018, it’s no question that teams are able to focus on tasks and deadlines, leading to greater efficiency in their everyday responsibilities. Communication around these tasks has been pivotal for teams to quickly share new ideas. For instance, Bruce Wang of MICROJIG said that Basecamp makes sharing “much easier, more transparent, and faster.”

Teams can expect to have a page dedicated to messages, files, and to-dos for all of their projects. There is also an option for teams to expand beyond internal marketing or businesses needs—Basecamp can be used to communicate with clients which can eradicate the need for email, meetings, and unnecessary tasks. Teams gunshy to signing up off the bat can start a free 30-day trial where they can use the app on the web, iOS, Android, Mac, or PC.

Freedom
Freedom has helped over 750,000 people with their productivity by helping them block certain apps and websites so they can focus on their projects. The Freedom app blocks distractions by prioritizing what matters and protecting a user’s time and attention.
Mac, Windows, and iOS users can install a free trial of Freedom on their devices so they can get their work done. Freedom users are always in control of blocking what they want and when they want. Regardless of the device used (Mac, Windows, iPhone, iPad, etc), Freedom can sync what users have blocked across all their devices.

Users can opt to start a Freedom session on the go or schedule a blocking time in advance. Sessions can be planned out so that they reoccur daily or weekly as well. Impressively, popular companies use Freedom to be more productive, like Google, Salesforce, and Microsoft. Universities like MIT, Harvard, and Stanford also use Freedom. It’s no surprise that Freedom has gained traction, considering users reported getting about 2.5 hours of productivity back in their day by using the app.

However, Freedom isn’t limited to the best companies and universities of the world—Freedom is for everyone. Writers, researchers, producers, teachers, and all sorts of professionals use Freedom to do their best work. New users can sign up for a free trial to test out 7 blocking sessions. After that, they can upgrade for $6.99 a month.

Freshbooks
Freshbooks is trusted by over 24 million people and is super easy to use. The cloud accounting service allows users to easily create invoices, accept online payments, and get paid 2x faster! In just minutes, a professional invoice can be made. With invoicing, for example, users can send reminders at customizable intervals and charge late fees (such as a percentage or flat-rate fees). There is also the option to get paid upfront with deposits via quick request or to add time tracking and expenses to an invoice. Other features include adding invoice due dates, customizing the payment term, offering discounts, and calculating taxes.

Users can automate ongoing tasks like invoicing, organizing expenses, and tracking time. It’s easy to follow up with clients, get the app from any device (desktop, phone, tablet, and more), and securely access it with peace of mind. Customer support is included with FreshBooks, so anytime a user needs help, they’ll be talking to a real person.
FreshBooks saves the average small business owner 192 hours every year, based on a customer service over 2k respondents. Even small business owners like Pat Flynn have said that Freshbooks, “makes my life so much easier. I wish I had this when I first started my business!” Whether self-employed or managing an agency, firm, or consultancy, business owners can stop wasting time and focus their attention on what matters most. With a 30-day trial, professionals can see if they like Freshbooks, or they’ll get a money-back guarantee.

GoodHire
GoodHire is designed for employers who need employee background checks and screening services. Based on trust, safety, and fairness, GoodHire has worked with over 75,000 businesses. In fact, GoodHire was named as a Top HR product of 2016 for candidate experience and was honored the Customer Satisfaction Winner for employment screening. This BBB accredited business works with big and small companies like ZipRecruiter, GoFundMe, and Newton and helps HR leaders, compliance teams, and business owners to create awesome teams.

Employers can go beyond the background check and get credit checks, drug screenings, healthcare sanctions, and identity verifications. There are also products available for international checks, ongoing alerts, and the enterprise. Even a candidate themselves can run a personal background check if they’re curious.

GoodHire is the only provider in the field with built-in adverse action workflows for compliance—all in over 180 state, county, and local ban-the-box laws. It’s also FCRA and EEOC compliant, with data aggregated from top industry sources, courthouses, and advanced technology platforms. With GoodHire, employers can expect reliable speed and accuracy from hosted data.

Its lightweight mobile and web software is user-centric, allowing for an easy and powerful workflow. The candidate experience itself is transparent and mobile-optimized, allowing for a 95% customer satisfaction. To get customized pricing, users will go through two quick steps to describe how many background checks they’re going to run and basic information like the company name and size.

Pocket
Their slogan says it best, “When you find something you want to view later, put it in [your] Pocket.” Pocket is a way for productive people to place articles, videos, and other media types from their browser or apps into Pocket for later viewing.

Users can “Pocket” for free from the web, email, or over 1500+ Apps like Twitter or Flipboard. Everything syncs together on Pocket, from the phone to the tablet, to the computer, making it easily accessible. Once it’s synced, users won’t need to access the internet to view media from their iPhone/iPad, Android, Kobo, or web browser. Amazingly, over 30 million people use Pocket, and over 2 billion items have been saved. Saving videos, images, text, and other forms of content has now become easier than ever before. On the Pocket site, users can even see the best content that’s been saved by topic, whether in Art, Economics, Space, or Sports.

Computer users can save content to their Pocket with a quick bookmarklet (via a browser extension) or download the app from any device, from Windows to Mac. Email users can also save links by sending an email to add@getpocket.com. When users save an item (any piece of media, like an article or video), it’s saved to their main List. Once done with an item, it can then be sent to an Archive for later reference. Users don’t have to use this feature and can opt to permanently delete items. Outside of saving items, users can favorite, recommend, and send items to friends.

To sign up, new users can log-in with their Google account or sign up via email. Those enjoying the app can upgrade anytime to Pocket Premium for an uninterrupted, ad-free experience for less than $50 per year (which is less than the monthly subscription cost).

Proven
Proven is a solution for businesses and startups needing to hire new employees. Small business owners like Urban Roots Farm (produce) and Goodwood NOLA (furniture) use Proven to grow their business and hire quickly. Employers start by creating a job post for the position available, and then Proven’s artificial intelligence distributes the job to over 100 job boards (in just one click) to places like Glassdoor, CareerBuilder, and Monster. To post on premium and specialty job boards, employers can opt to use an extra feature that’s pay-as-you-go. Resumes can be stored to access candidate information at any time, which meets HR compliance guidelines. Job posts can also be shared on social media accounts, be automatically re-posted, and even posted anonymously.

Employers will get applications via email (from hundreds of job sites) when a candidate applies for a position. Popular companies like Hilton and Domino’s use Proven to hire the best candidates through web and mobile tools, which allow them to not only stay organized but also reach out to potential employees and schedule interviews. Employers interested can try Proven’s free trial, which lasts 10 days and can be canceled at any time. Job seekers themselves are able to use Proven to search for jobs on the site or on the mobile app as well.

RescueTime
According to Cornerstone, work overload decreases productivity by about 68 percent for employees who believe they don’t have enough time in the day to get all their tasks done. To solve this problem, employers and employees can use an app like RescueTime to get an accurate idea of how and where they spend their time. To be more productive, users can access RescueTime on Mac, Pac, Android, or Linux, where they can gain set goals, gain perspective, and take action. Professionals will be able to see right in the app where they’re being inefficient in their day and how to better manage their time. For example, users can create simple goals like spending less time in email and set alarms when they’ve spent too much time on a distracting app of their choice (like Facebook).

RescueTime Lite is free and allows users to track time, set goals, and get a weekly and quarterly report. Detailed reports will also show users which apps and sites they spent the most time on with specific time logs, and the weekly summary shows their progress, activity level, and productivity score. Those interested in Premium features will enjoy being able to block distracting sites and track offline tasks (like meetings and commute time). Users with RescueTime Premium can also create customized alerts and log daily highlights to create context around their time-tracking.

Slack
According to the McKinsey Global Institute, productivity improves by 20-25% in organizations with employees who feel connected. That’s why Slack, a productivity hub for work teams, is so important. It’s a place to collaborate, share important information, and implement the right tools. Teams communicate through the Slack web or mobile app on chat-like channels that are organized as needed, by things like project, topic, or team. Everyone can easily search for conversations in Slack to easily reference previous discussions, like a document previously uploaded or a password shared. Slack integrates with hundreds of integrations like Google Drive, Dropbox, and InVision. Company data is protected in Slack through security measures like 2FA and SSO, to keep information secure and compliant. The app works well with teams of all sizes and industry, like Sales, Engineering, Marketing, and IT teams. For example, Ticketmaster, AirBnB, and Target are a few of the companies that leverage Slack as their main communication tool.

Team members can also choose to chat beyond their internal team and collaborate with their clients, companies, and businesses that they regularly work with (such as clients, vendors, and partners). Separate channels can be created for these exact conversations. With face-to-face voice and video calls and integrated file sharing, Slack is a great solution for teams needing to streamline their work.

Slack is free for teams to use with search up to 10k messages and a maximum of 10 apps and integrations. There’s also 1-1 video calls available in the free version. After that, it’s about $7 per active user per month, with unlimited search, apps, group calls, and guest accounts.

Sprout Social
Sprout Social is a social media management software for social media managers and business owners looking to publish content, engage with customers, listen for brand mentions, and analyze efforts. The full-service social media platform wants to provide an option for consumers to have transparent and authentic experiences through the brands they love. Creating this type of connection can happen with Sprout’s philosophy: be open, be real, and be empathetic.

Sprout social’s social media tools involve content development, campaign management, and distribution optimization. Customer care options are also available for customer service responses, conflict resolution, and more on the easy-to-navigate platform.

Finding qualitative insights is also easy with Sprout, as it provides simple measurement and reporting right within the platform. Managers can work with influencers for awareness campaigns to help with their brand perception and content curation, for instance. Sprout has over 24,000 satisfied customers, including CVS Health, Edelman, and Zendesk. All of their plans include a free 30-day trial for premium, corporate, and the enterprise.

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