5 free productivity-boosting apps you should be using right now

Simon Pound
5 free productivity-boosting apps you should be using right now

There have never been so many apps to chose from, all adding notifications into your life – little dinging noises and red circles and flags all over your computer and phone.

With so many potential apps to choose from, it’s important you get the right tools and not just add to the distraction of modern work life. Here’s five we love and that help the boat go faster.



There’s a reason that this is the fastest growing app in the world of business, ever. Slack is famous as the email killer. It’s an instant messaging service, chat room, group collaboration tool and customisable productivity software all rolled into one.

Here’s how it works: you get everyone from your organsiation to join the app and then when you have a project to work on you create a special room, called a channel.

You invite the people in the team that need to be involved in a conversation to join either a private group or open channel. Then, instead of sending emails to a group and sharing documents and knowledge on a project to individuals, you share it to the channel.

People can get up to date by looking at past correspondence. You can alert people by tagging them, and people can respond to posts with emoji reactions – like a thumbs-up that can mean they’ve seen and noted a message.

That is it at the most basic, but it gets interesting when you start customising and adding bots and integrations to make it a productivity and information sharing super-tool. Maybe you want to connect other apps, like messaging service Intercom so you can know when you get an online chat to your website. Or you might want to trigger reminders and tasks to ensure a meeting actions are followed up. Go for it! It can do an enormous amount for you.

And users love Slack as much for the way it talks to them as how it makes it easier to talk to each other. From the charming messages that welcome you, to the emoji reactions that you will wonder how you lived without, through to the rooms for chit chat that stop reply all hell, it will be your favourite new toy/tool.



What it does: Trello is a project management tool that allows teams to share information, needs and progress on a job, through handy cards, checklists and calendar functionality.

How it works: When you want to start a task you create a card. This allows you to add all the details, stakeholders, due dates, requirements and specifics. You then carry out all communication through the card by commenting on it, tagging others, uploading work in progress, or reference material, and tracking approval.

You can organsise work by descending rows to get a clear visualisation of how much work is on and once a job is done you then get the very satisfying moment of moving it to the done list.

Why it’s cool: In some ways, with the vertical rows of cards, Trello can look like the whole office is playing Solataire. But unlike that hour wasting game, Trello is a great collabration tool that increases the amount you get done in a day.


G-suite (formerly Google Apps)

Although the new name makes it sound like an erogenous zone or rap group, G-suite is actually the collection of killer work apps from Google.

Unless you’ve been living under a Microsoft shaped rock, you should already be using some of the Google apps for work or life: Google Mail, Calendar, Docs, Sheets … the list goes on – basically everything in Office but better, easier to collaborate, in the cloud, and free/cheap.

If you have fewer than ten emails associated with a business it is all free up to the first generous data tier. And once you start adding on the users and the big files you need to keep, it is money well spent.

The beauty of Google is how it all works together. Make a table in sheets, pop it in your doc, update it in one place and it has changed in both. Get an email with a date, add it to calendar in a second, or create a task or reminder that lives across the platform – use it all in the Chrome browser – wow, the whole world can be Google.

And the cool thing is it just keeps getting better… except for the name that is.



Ok, so to do list software is pretty standard, and actually Google Tasks can accomplish a heck of a lot in your normal workflow, but here is a tip for a specialist app.

Add Todoist.com to your Chrome browser to get bings all up in your browser to keep you on track.


Pen & Paper

Go low tech! Really, there’s still something about being able to cross an action point off a list with an actual pen that is so satisfying and that keeps you honest.

In reality you probably want to be finding your own flow that brings all these tools together, and the little list on the back of an envelope can be the very best glue for your day.

Extra for experts, write the list before you go to bed so you are set to get the most out of your upcoming day, and you’ll be productive with the best of them.

We all know that the best way to procrastinate is to look at productivity tips, so we hope you’ve enjoyed a few of our favourites. Now, get back to work. 

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