Revised May 18, 2020
Revised December 18, 2017
Revised October 12, 2017
Despite the proliferation of “labor saving” devices and process automation software, marketers (along with their colleagues in pretty much every other business function) are busier than ever.
Of course, there’s always been pressure to do more with less—the definition of productivity improvement—but the mantra seems to have taken on almost religious status as the anemic, drawn-out recovery from the 2008 financial crisis drags on.
Combined with the widespread adoption of mobile technologies, enabling corporate professionals to work from pretty much anywhere, at any time (which they are therefore expected to do), the demands on our time feel unprecedented.
So how can you get at least some of that time back? How can you get more done without simply working even longer and harder?
The personal productivity apps here can help. These tools, divided into four categories—time-tracking, online timers, personal organization and scheduling, and task automation tools—may help you get a bit more done with a bit less time and effort.
Online Time-Tracking Apps
Google Review Count: 355
RescueTime helps you understand how you spend time online so you can focus and be more productive. It runs securely in the background on your computer and mobile devices; tracks time spent on applications and websites, giving you an accurate picture of your day; and provides detailed reports based on your activity.
Sample review: “These top productivity tools will help you grow…(use) RescueTime for tracking your time, eliminating distractions, and optimizing your daily productivity.” — Marketing Insider Group (Startup)
Pricing: free, $9 per month, or $72 per year
Showcase reviews: Marketing Insider Group (Startup)
2) Time Doctor
Google Review Count: 183
Get insights into exactly what is going on with your business, or use Time Doctor for your own personal productivity. Features include online time monitoring, ability to track time spent in meetings, client/project time tracking, desktop/mobile time tracking, and an integrated payroll module. Integrates with a wide range of applications including Basecamp, Salesforce.com, and Teamwork.
Sample review: “Time Doctor allows content marketers to track the productivity of a team, including tracking time spent working and managing hours.” — Express Writers
Pricing: free, $5 per month, or $10 per month per user
Showcase reviews: Express Writers
Google Review Count: 170
Online time-tracking tool for individuals or teams, on desktop or mobile devices.
Sample review: “As a B2B business owner, you’ve probably noticed that a lot of your time is unaccounted for. You’ve been busy all day, but how much of that is actually billable time? With Toggle, you can track your time by client and project both on your desktop and on your mobile device. ” — B2B PR Sense Blog
Pricing: free or three levels from $10 to $59 per user per month
Showcase reviews: B2B PR Sense Blog, Blogging Wizard, BuzzBlogger, Marketing Insider Group (Startup)
Google Review Count: 363
A simple countdown timer to help with tasks and workflow. Includes special timers for Pomodoro, brushing teeth, and common intervals.
Showcase reviews: Siasat
Google Review Count: 297
Qlock is a stylish, simple desktop world clock for Windows–plus much more. Create unlimited clock windows for every major city in the world, then simply drag them around the screen until you`re happy with the layout. Each window can have its color, size and display changed, they even clamp themselves to each other and to the sides of the desktop. Qlock will even display RSS or Atom feeds and update them automatically throughout the day to help you keep on top of news and events around the globe, without even having to open a browser, and you can attach notes to any city to keep track of phone numbers and reminders.
Pricing: $15 (single user) or $90 (multi-user) one-time fee
Showcase reviews: Siasat
Personal Organization and Scheduling Apps
Google Review Count: 295
A combination to-do list for tasks and lists; calendar for planning; and assistant for automated tasks. Available for iPhone, Android or desktop.
Sample review: “These top productivity tools will help you grow…(use) AnyDo for building personal and professional task lists.” — Marketing Insider Group (Startup)
Pricing: free, $3 per month, or $27 per year
Showcase reviews: Marketing Insider Group (Startup)
Google Review Count: 272
Create to-do lists, rearrange tasks, and mark when completed. Unfinished tasks automatically roll over to the next day. You can also create recurring tasks and other types of lists.
Sample review: “TeuxDeux (is) a beautiful to-do app that looks like your paper dairy.” — Siasat
Pricing: $3 per month or $24 per year
Showcase reviews: Siasat
3) Google Keep
Google Review Count: 203
Create online “sticky notes” for notes, lists, and photos, set to-do reminders, collaborate on task lists, and search your notes. Versions for Android, iOS and desktop.
Sample review: “Do we really need to get complicated apps for to-do lists? I don’t think so, and if you are with me, then Google Keep is your best bet for staying on top of daily/weekly/etc to-do lists.” — StoreYa Blog
Showcase reviews: StoreYa Blog
4) Cold Turkey
Google Review Count: 122
Cold Turkey lets you temporarily block distractions (like Facebook) so you can focus on finishing your work sooner. It’s customizable—you can set it to block anything from a specific webpage to the entire Internet—and difficult to circumvent, to help keep you on track (though you can set up exceptions).
Sample review: “If you intend to spend just a few minutes on Pinterest, only to end up spending half a day looking at recipes, you need Cold Turkey. Use Cold Turkey to group distracting sites, such as social and news sites, and then block them off for certain time periods.” — Social Media Examiner (Productivity)
Pricing: free or $25 one-time
Showcase reviews: Social Media Examiner (Productivity)
Google Review Count: 120
The easiest way to schedule SMS reminders for yourself, your family, friends or customers. Just send a message now or schedule it for a later date, to one person or many at once. You can have it repeat every week, month or year – or at any interval you choose.
Sample review: “Send yourself text message reminders for important or time-sensitive tasks.” — Wrike
Pricing: one to three cents per message, based on volume purchased
Showcase reviews: Wrike
6) World Clock for Mac
Google Review Count: 17
Check the time anywhere on earth. Add cities and timezones with a keystroke, convert time with a flick, create calendar events with a click.
Sample review: “World Clock is a Mac app that is much more than just a clock. Select your favorite cities and change the time by clicking and dragging on the screen. The rest of the time zones change in sync, so you can see what time it is at any point on the map. World Clock is useful for scheduling meetings and social updates, and you can use it across the board to get in front of different audiences as they come online.” — Social Media Examiner (Tools)
Pricing: $5 one time
Showcase reviews: Social Media Examiner (Tools)
Task Automation Tools
Google Review Count: 336
Create applets to connect online services to automate a wide variety of tasks: automatically tweet out your new blog posts. Get an email when you favorite blogger pubishes a new post. Get notifications, weather alerts at specific times, create playlists, and more.
Sample review: “If you’re not using this, you’re doing too much work. ..Try it. Spend an hour looking at what it can do with your different channels and you’ll be glad you did. I especially like dumping things into Evernote with it. Great way to put all of your life and day in to one place.” — Katie Lance
Showcase reviews: Express Writers, Katie Lance, Marketing Insider Group (Arsenal), Siasat, SmallBusinessNewz, Social Media Examiner (Productivity), StoreYa Blog, TNW News
Google Review Count: 210
Connect apps and automate task workflows, without coding. Pick a Trigger that sets your Zap into motion and complete th action. Point, click, automate. Go from idea to workflow in minutes.
Sample review: “Automate social sharing, get on top of to-do lists, make sure your team doesn’t forget deadlines, and so much more. All of it is done via automation so all you have to do is complete the one-time setup, and then let it work for you.” — StoreYa Blog
Pricing: free, $20 or $125 per month
Showcase reviews: Siasat, StoreYa Blog
Google Review Count: 137
An integration platform to help connect on-premises and cloud applications, automate workflow processes, and create microservices.
Sample review: “A mix of sales, marketing, and customer service is provided by Azuqua, a start-up based in Seattle that connects and automates business processes in the cloud. Its “workflow scenarios” offer personalisation, and integration with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems and some social media.” — 201 Digital
Pricing: $250 or $1,000 per month; conntact vendor for enterprise pricing
Showcase reviews: 201 Digital
Google Review Count: 310
An automatic time tracker that captures your time as you work on your PC, Mac, Android, or iPhone. No need to stop and start timers. Integrates with popular billing apps (like QuickBooks and FreshBooks) and email systems.
Pricing: $12/$19/$29 per month
Google Review Count: 117
The goal of this daily planner / habit tracker / gratitude journal is to help you identify the one area of life that’s most holding you back and transform it, permanently. It provides daily planning and task prioritization; time tracking; weekly goal setting; and daily habit, value and metrics to track your progress. If you’re not sure where to start, or how to get the most of your planner, there’s an online quick-start center that provides video coaching, pre-worked examples, step-by-step guides, and cheat sheets.
Google Review Count: 43
Shift is an email client that makes it easy to manage multiple accounts across Mail, Calendar, Drive + web apps and extensions. Rather than opening up multiple tabs, or browsers, to toggle between your accounts, Shift brings a variety of tools like Google Services, Slack, Asana, Trello, Evernote, Facebook, Jira, Invision, Grammarly, Boomerang, and others into a single interface.
Pricing: free or $30/$100 per year
Google Review Count: 38
The creators of this tool have a valid point: on most social media networks, only people you’ve approved can reach you. On email, in theory, anyone can (and interrupt your day). MailOverload gives you that same type of control over your inbox, allowing only senders you’ve pre-approved to reach you. You can read your “unapproved” messages in a separate folder any time, but they won’t interrupt your day and reduce your productivity.
Pricing: $10 per month
B2B PR Sense Blog
Marketing Insider Group (Arsenal)
Marketing Insider Group (Startup)
Social Media Examiner (Productivity)
Social Media Examiner (Tools)
This was the 30th post in the Best Online Business Tools series.
#1: Best Online Business Tools Series Kicks Off Today
#2: The 12 Best Competitive Intelligence and Benchmarking Tools
#3: The Nine Best Facebook Marketing Tools
#4: The 14 Best Content Planning and Research Tools
#5: The 23 Best Content Ideation Tools
#6: The 24 Best Online Writing Tools and Apps
#7: The Six Best Google+ Marketing Tools
#8: The Four Best Online Education Tools For Business Pros
#9: The 14 Best Marketing Automation Tools
#10: The 17 Best Keyword Research Tools for SEO and SEM
#11: The Seven Best File Sharing Tools
#12: The Five Best Infographic Creation Tools and Services
#13: The 28 Best Influencer Marketing Tools
#14: The Five Best Pinterest and Instagram Marketing Tools
#15: The 24 Best Visual Content Creation Tools
#16: The Six Best Online HR, Payroll, and Employee Scheduling Tools
#17: The 20 Best SEO Rank Tracker Tools
#18: The Six Best Screen Capture Tools
#19: The 15 Best Special-Purpose SEO Tools
#20: The Four Best Online Survey Tools
#21: The 26 Best All-in-One SEO Tool Suites
#22: The 32 Best Twitter Marketing Tools
#23: The 29 Best Web Analytics Tools
#24: The 24 Best Email Marketing Tools
#25: The 28 Best Web Design Tools
#26: The 29 Best Social Media Monitoring Tools
#27: The 17 Best Project Management Tools
#28: The 21 Best Content Curation Tools
#29: The 26 Best WordPress Plugins
#30: The 14 Best Personal Productivity Tools