We use apps for a wide variety of purposes in our personal lives, but what about apps for work productivity? It turns out there is an entire segment of technology dedicated to helping each and every one of us get better, smarter and faster at the work we do.
While there is an absolute physical limit to how much we can get done in any specific period of time, the best productivity apps can help us to stretch our capabilities and fit more work into less time.
5 Types of Apps for Work Productivity
There are a wide variety of applications out there, and more of them are being developed every day, but the top five categories of tools include the following.
- To-Do List: All of us have more things to do than we can keep up with mentally. That's because our brains are wired to focus on priorities and dump any other "data" that isn't immediately relevant. Having a good application for note taking and to-do's can help to reduce the pressure on your brain to remember everything so it can focus on solving problems. To-do list apps include Things (iOS), Todoist and Wunderlist, to name a few.
- E-sign: This might not win any awards for excitement, but anyone who's had to print, sign, scan and email documents back to someone else knows just how much of a hassle and time suck that can be. Signing electronically is legal in all 50 U.S. states and has been since the year 2000, according to the ESIGN law. There are plenty of electronic signature tools, including Docusign, Eversign and more.
- ile Sharing and Storage: In a virtual work environment, so much of the work we do is reliant on sending and sharing files with others. Having a dependable app for sharing those files, managing permissions and tracking revisions is a must. Additionally, having those documents stored in the cloud prevents natural disaster or computer failure from destroying information. Box, Dropbox and similar tools fit in this category.
- Communications/Video Chat: Again, with the workplace becoming ever more virtual, we work with fewer people face-to-face on a daily basis. This is one of the challenges that is highlighted by companies that try to limit working remotely. However, making additional effort to use approved chat, video collaboration and other communications tools can help to create stronger bonds among workers. Productivity relies not just on you, but on those around you as well, so it's important to remember collaboration when looking for the best productivity apps. Microsoft Teams, Skype and Slack are the most commonly used options in this group.
- Connectors: Applications don't always connect to each other. Connectors like Zapier, IFTTT and other similar tools can allow you to set up rules so that automation picks up the slack for you. For instance, you can create a rule that adds a photo to your Dropbox account and shares it with your team every time you email it to yourself. This might work if you're taking pictures of customer business cards for a marketing or sales team, for example.
The industry you're in and the job you do may shift the types of uses that you have, but in general the same types of work (collaborative, virtual, complex) are done in almost every office job to some degree.
Offline Lessons and Long-Term Habits
The interesting part of this discussion is that the tools above can help us to reexamine our offline habits as well. For instance, how can you avoid keeping your list of things to do at home exclusively in your head? Or how can you stay connected with those you love with the right communications or chat tools, even when you're traveling? And perhaps most importantly, are there any of the connector tools that can help you manage your personal life just as well as they help you manage your professional one?
While we're still a ways out from our apps doing the work for us, the apps for work productivity outlined above can help to give you peace of mind, knowing that you're accomplishing the maximum amount of things you can in any given period of time.