A No BS List of Apps That Will Transform Your Workflow

Everyone has their lists of great productivity apps that they like. In fact, it’s not hard to find lists that will throw upwards of 50 or even 100 tools to increase your productivity.

Seriously? Who has time to try out 100 tools? Suggesting that somebody check out 100 tools in the same sentence as the word “productivity” feels like both an oxymoron and an insult. Plus, most of these lists don’t even really offer 100 unique tools. They offer about 10 tools and then 90 alternatives which do the same things. What kind of a recommendation list is that? I’m indecisive enough on my own, thanks.

And don’t get me started on the misuse of the word “free.” There’s no frustration quite like reading a compelling description of a fantastic “free” app only to find out that the free version only gives you some useless, watered-down version of the feature-set you got all excited about. And you know what? That’s fine. Not every app or service needs to be free. If these companies work hard to make a great piece of software they deserve to get paid. Just don’t TELL me something is free if it isn’t really free.

So instead of giving you a list of 100 ultimately useless links to tools which you will never check out or be able to decide between, here is a simple, straight-forward, no BS list of apps and tools that, if you use them, they will improve your workflow and efficiency. This isn’t a directory of apps you could use, this is a curated collection of apps you should use. In other words, we actually use them ourselves, and we recommend them.

You’re welcome.

(Full Disclosure: I have ZERO affiliation with any of these products other than the fact that I use them on a daily, hourly, or non-stop basis and think they are great.)

Dashlane

You might think it’s weird that the number one productivity app I’m listing here is a password aggregator. But think about how much time you spend entering in passwords. And coming up with new passwords. Then forgetting those passwords and having to reset them, and start all over again. Plus when it come to cybersecurity, you don’t even have to get hacked directly these days. Instead, hackers just go ahead and break into companies/organizations like Yahoo!, Dropbox, Verizon, LinkedIn and the IRS to steal our information by the millions – and those are just the ones we found out about in 2016. When that happens we have to start all over in a furious password-changing scavenger hunt.

The whole thing is maddening, but passwords (and the people trying to steal them) aren't going away anytime soon.

Dashlane takes the headache out of password management. You create a single, strong password – the only password you have to remember. From there, Dashlane can generate strong, random passwords for you that meet any requirement under the sun. It will remember those passwords for you and automatically fill them into your login screens. 

You can also securely store credit card and address information that Dashlane can autofill, and create custom, secure notes.

It gives you the option to lock everything up even tighter with two-factor authentication options. It gives you the ability to share login info with others or a permanent or temporary basis without ever having to reveal what any password actually is.

Perhaps one of the best features is their “security challenge.” Where they will perform an audit of all of your saved passwords and tell you what passwords are weak, repeated, old, or potentially compromised by recent data breaches.

All of this functionality is doled out through a browser extension on desktop, and an app on smartphones, where fingerprint support makes entering passwords even quicker. 

Yes, the system takes a bit of time to set up fully and properly, but once you do it is well worth it.

Grammarly

Whether you realize it or not, you do a lot of writing on the internet. Writing blog posts, commenting on Facebook, composing emails, even filling out forms. This all creates a lot of text that you are generating in your web browser, and unfortunately for the people who are reading all those mangled sentences you are cramming together, your ninth grade English teacher isn’t looking over your shoulder.

Lucky for you, Grammarly can fill in as your own, personal grammar police.

Via a browser extension, Grammarly scans every word you type in your browser in real-time and will tell you when you've spelled a word wrong, thrown in an unnecessary comma, or even used a word incorrectly – then gives you suggestions on how to fix it.

Logging onto grammarly.com (or using the free mac desktop app) gives you all of the Grammarly goodness in a simple word processor, or lets you upload your own documents for scanning.

The website, the extension and the desktop app are all free, though they offer a premium upgrade ($15-$38/month depending on how much you pay upfront) which gives you additional grammar rules, customized checks for specific document types, and integration with Microsoft Word.

Hootsuite

Just because you need or want to send out social media posts at certain times, doesn’t mean you need to be a slave to your calendar at set a bunch of crazy alarms and reminders that say, “Time to Tweet!”

Conversely, just because you think of a dozen clever social media posts while you're eating your breakfast cereal, doesn't mean you need to broadcast a tweet-storm at 6 am.

Hootsuite solves these problems by allowing you to come up with social media posts at your own pace, when and where they come most naturally to you and then schedule them for later. You can post to all your social networks at once, or customize the same content to tailor it for your various channels. 

Breather

Sometimes you need a place to work or a meeting place while you are traveling, in a different part of town, or because your “office” is a pile of strategically placed cardboard boxes in a 5’x5’ mini u-storage.

Breather is a service that gives you many of the benefits of a co-working space without any long-term commitments, crazy time restrictions, or out-of-control pricing. They set up otherwise unused spaces in commercial buildings as well-designed office and meeting rooms for rent on an hourly basis, at very reasonable rates. Every space includes WiFi, phone chargers and writing utensils, and many include things like whiteboards, lounge areas, and flatscreen TVs.

Breather is currently available in select cities (New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Palo Alto, Boston, Chicago, DC, Toronto, Montreal, and London), but they are expanding rapidly. When you need a little space, Breather can be a total lifesaver.

Flycut

Flycut is the simplest little utility. Its icon is a little red storage locker. It sits in the menu bar of your computer, and quietly makes your life a bajillion times easier.

Copy, cut, and paste are some of the most basic, oldest functions on any computer. They have been around for what seems like as long as the personal computer itself. And yet, for a long time, nobody figured out a good way to keep a running log of all the things you copy into your clipboard. And that's all Flycut does.

But if you’ve ever been in a situation where you go to paste something and find that you copied the wrong thing, or accidentally copied something else more recently, you know that this simple function is enough.

Flycut keeps a running list of the most recent bits of text that you have copied and allows you to bring them back from the dead.

Sure, there are plenty of other clipboard management apps, but Flycut is one of the simplest, most reliable, and most free, and it has saved my skin more times than I can count.

Want to learn about a few more of our favorite tools? We have narrowed the list down considerably after years of trial and error. Contact us to discuss this and other business strategy tips that will help your business.