A productivity tool is a piece of software that can help you increase work efficiency by streamlining your daily tasks. A variety of utility programs, project management software, employee monitoring software, to do lists, resource management software, and so on, can be considered productivity tools.
One very obvious factor that is directly affected by one’s productivity is time management. This is usually a challenge for many professionals, and it can be an important problem for freelancers, who may sometimes feel like they are not under any pressure to adhere to a strict schedule.
Productivity tools are very useful in this scenario, and can make time management a lot easier, especially when dealing with multiple projects and deadlines. They can help better prioritize tasks and reduce the time spent on non-priorities.
While traditionally used for work-related tasks, productivity tools are becoming increasingly popular in the management of personal time as well.
Below you can find a list of some of the most popular productivity tools, along with a brief explanation on how they can help you:
1. Auto Hotkey
This is a free and open source automation program that can dramatically simplify repetitive tasks in almost any computing environment. It works by allowing you to create time saving macros, and can be used to launch programs, open documents, manipulate files and folders and perform mouse clicks.
The most common applications for Auto Hotkey include remapping keyboard keys, creating keyboard shortcuts, adding automated phrases (such as signatures) to emails or forums, automatically filling out forms, and setting up reminders, scans or backups.
The main drawback of Auto Hotkey is that it may be rather difficult to use, especially for less tech-savvy individuals. It requires some knowledge of scripting, as it uses a custom scripting language. It also does not have any sort of UI or menus, so it may be a little frustrating to use, at least until you get the hang of it. It can, however, offer a good range of benefits to people who want to save a considerable amount of time on their computer work.
2. Light Image Resizer
Light Image Resizer is a great tool if you have to manage a large number of images that take up a lot of space.
The main benefit of this tool is that it allows you to process images in batches, and it directly integrates into your system as a Windows shell extension. This means you can save the time that would otherwise go into processing each image.
You’ll have the option to modify a suite of things about your photos, like compression level, name, size, and destination folder. The program’s simple UI allows you to put watermarks on photos, and quickly convert them to email-friendly images.
A nice little perk is that Light Image Resizer also tells you how much disk space you have saved by converting your images.
3. Lastpass Password Manager
Available as a browser plug-in, Lastpass is a freemium password management and form filling service. It makes it very easy to keep track of your passwords and log in securely, especially if you are like me and have a multitude of online accounts. It is also advertised as safe, offering protection against phishing scams, malware and online fraud.
Lastpass functions by relying on a cloud solution to centralize user passwords. When you want to log into an online account, Lastpass fills in the password for you. Thanks to the cloud, you can access your passwords using any device, including any type of smartphone or even someone else’s computer.
It has received a lot of positive attention from several renowned tech sites, including LifeHacker and Pcmag. There’s also a premium version that offers extra functionality for $12 per year.
4. IFTTT (If This Then That)
An intriguing piece of software, IFTTT allows users to create connections between different types of online services.
It works on the premise of “if this, then that,” meaning that if a “trigger” occurs on, say, a social media website like Facebook, then a “reaction” will follow elsewhere (for example, on an image hosting website like Flickr).
This formula is called a “recipe” and it can have a wide variety of applications. For example, you can use it to send automatic emails if you are tagged in a photo on Facebook, or to autosave all of your Instagram photos to Dropbox. IFTTT will check for triggers every 15 minutes.
This social media management tool promises significant enhancements to your social media experience. Excellent if you’re an online entrepreneur who needs to quickly manage multiple social networks, Hootsuite boasts over 7 million satisfied users.
The basic version is free of charge, while the Pro version offers additional functionality at the cost of $8.99 per month.
You get unlimited access to apps, and can use Hootsuite to schedule tweets and messages, but also to track social media campaigns and easily measure results with Hootsuite’s Enhanced Analytic service.
6. Google Drive (formerly Docs)
A freeware office-suite from Google, this is a great tool for sharing documents, spreadsheets and presentations with other people.
The main perk of Google Drive is that it enables users to collaborate on content creation and editing. Files of up to 10 GB are stored in the cloud, where users can access them at any time, through a computer or mobile device.
Since documents can be accessed by multiple users simultaneously, this is a great way to save time and increase productivity compared to more traditional document sharing methods.
However, while Google Drive does encourage collaborative editing, there’s no way to really keep track of which accounts made what changes.
A Research tool, introduced to Google Drive last year, allows users to benefit from Google’s search abilities to add information from the Internet to their documents.
7. Facebook Power Editor
This Chrome-only (for the most part) utility allows you to better manage Facebook ads to target an ideal audience.
You can use it to bulk edit ads and save a lot of time this way, but you can also gain access to the newest Facebook advertising opportunities, tightly control ad placement, create ad campaigns and optimize ad bidding.
With the ability to swiftly duplicate audiences, entire campaigns or even individual ads by hitting a single button, Facebook Power Editor can be a massive time saver for online entrepreneurs.
You can gain access to custom target groups for your ads, but you can also optimize ads for very specific needs: want an ad optimized for Page likes? You can do it. How about optimizing ads for getting more engagement or link clicks? You can do that too!
Quick and easy to use, Droplr is a great web app for sharing documents. It works as a nice replacement for clunky email attachments, it is much faster than a syncing tool, and it comes with a very functional interface to boot.
You can upload a file to the cloud server and share it with someone within seconds, but the downside is that you’ll have to do it again and again, each time you modify the file.
Droplr’s “For Business” version, which is currently still in beta tests, is designed to encourage quick collaboration between team members. When launched, it will be offering a suite of team management functions, like the ability to add new team members, deploy apps, and manage a shared storage limits for your team.
This service is similar in functionality to Droplr, but differs in that it is linked to a location on your hard drive, and syncs all the files there with the ones you’ve uploaded to the Dropbox servers. So if you are making any changes to that specific folder on your hard drive, the changes will be reflected in the Dropbox folder as well. One of the main advantages of Dropbox is that you can access your documents from any other device, and it will work as if you’re accessing your computer.
Dropbox guarantees the security of all the files uploaded into the Dropbox cloud at all times, so you don’t have to worry about compromising your data. Users can gain access to a storage space of 2 GB for free, but can also pay $99 per year for access to the Pro version of Dropbox, which offers a whopping 100 GB of storage space.
Like Droplr, Dropbox also has a “For Business” version, which is a bit costly (at $795 per year for 5 users), but also provides an unlimited amount of storage space.
The massively popular VoIP (voice-over-IP service) is a must for almost any modern business, as it allows users around the world to communicate in real time via instant messaging, microphone and webcam.
With a function that enables you to place calls on traditional telephone networks, but also the ability to transfer files and set up video-conferences, Skype can become a powerful productivity tool.
Since remote jobs are becoming increasingly more popular in our day and age, a team whose members are spread worldwide can derive massive benefits by keeping in touch via Skype. On a personal level, Skype is also very useful for keeping in touch with relatives and friends.
Also make sure to check out our list of over 30 project management tools