As a project manager, one of the major challenges faced is ensuring productivity across all levels of the project. From workflow coordination, task delegation, and time management, to efficient communication, you carry the weight of not just your productivity but the entire team's.
What's more, the complexity of your role can exponentially increase with larger projects, tighter deadlines, and as the team grows in size. These factors often result in productivity problems ranging from missed deadlines, poor decision-making, and miscommunication to low morale in the team, all of which are detrimental to the project's outcome. However, these issues can be significantly reduced or eliminated with the right productivity tools.
What Are Productivity Tools?
Productivity tools are applications or software that help individuals or businesses perform tasks more efficiently and effectively. These tools can automate processes, simplify communication, assist in project management, manage time and schedule, and even assist in content creation.
The next set of tools is meant to be just that. A way for you to find ways to work smarter and save time. This way, you'll have room to do more in your work hours.
Slack is a communication platform designed for businesses. It provides channels where team members can communicate, collaborate, share files, and more.
Why I picked Slack: This software's comprehensive features that streamline communication and collaboration made it an easy choice to include on my list. It serves as a central hub for team discussions, organized by various topics or departments, where information exchange takes place in real time, thus enabling quicker decision-making.
Slack Standout Features & Integrations
Features that stand out to me include channels and integrations. Channels allow you to organize your communication by department, project, or any way you like. I find that this makes it easy to find relevant discussions, decisions, files and it keeps conversations well-focused. Integrations let you connect to other apps and use them within Slack. Therefore, scheduling a meeting, planning a project, or even big tasks data analysis can all be done within Slack, saving you time and increasing productivity.
Integrations include Teamline, Workstreams, ClickUp, Asana, Sentry, SimplePoll, Trello, and dozens of development, management, communication, finance, media, marketing, design, wellness, and other apps.
- Files and conversations are searchable
- Integrations allow you to multi-task within the app
- Segregate chats by project
- Can quickly become expensive as your operation scales
- Too many notifications enabled by default
Todoist is a popular task management tool that helps individuals and teams stay organized and productive. It allows users to create and track tasks, set priorities, collaborate with others, and manage deadlines across multiple devices and platforms. I also find that its availability on multiple devices, including web, mobile, and desktop, make it a versatile and accessible productivity tool.
Why I picked Todoist: I chose this software for its simplicity and ease of use, which make it an excellent choice for individuals seeking a straightforward task management solution. This simplicity helps in eliminating distractions and allows users to focus on completing their tasks efficiently.
The software offers a range of powerful features that I think can enhance productivity and organization. The ability to create sub-tasks, set reminders, and establish recurring tasks ensures that no important task is overlooked.
Todoist Standout Features & Integrations
Features that stand out include collaboration and task delegation. The collaboration functionality allows for seamless teamwork, as users can share tasks, assign them to team members, and track progress collectively. I also appreciate that task delegation will let you share task execution with others while maintaining productivity levels.
Integrations include Day.io, HourStack, Google Calendar, MS Teams, Pipedream, Outlook, Slack, Time Doctor, Toggl Track, and Zendesk. You can also access thousands of additional apps using a paid subscription with Zapier.
- Simple interface makes it easy to navigate
- You can add tasks via email
- Productivity visualizations by week & month
- Lack of advanced reporting
- Can only help handle simple projects
Asana is a web and mobile application designed to help teams and individuals manage and organize their work and projects. It provides a platform for task management, project tracking, and collaboration. The software is widely used for various purposes, including project planning, task assignment, deadline management, and communication among team members.
Why I picked Asana: First and foremost, I chose this software because it excels at task and project management. I also find that its intuitive interface and robust features make it easy to create, assign, and track tasks, ensuring that everyone on a team knows what they need to do and when it needs to be completed. The ability to organize tasks into projects and set dependencies allows for efficient project planning and execution. Meanwhile, the calendar view and deadline reminders help individuals and teams stay on top of their work, reducing the risk of missed deadlines.
I also decided to include it because it promotes collaboration and communication within teams. It provides a centralized platform where team members can discuss tasks, share files, and provide updates. This real-time collaboration fosters transparency and ensures that everyone is aligned on project goals.
Overall, I find Asana's combination of effective task management and collaboration features makes it a powerful productivity tool.
Asana Standout Features & Integrations
Features include its collaboration and customization features. Team members can collaborate on tasks and projects by commenting on tasks, attaching files, and sharing updates. This fosters communication and keeps everyone on the same page. Additionally, users can customize their workflows by creating custom fields, templates, and automations to suit their specific needs.
Integrations include Microsoft Teams, Adobe Creative Cloud, JIRA Cloud, Salesforce, Tableau, Slack, Clockwise, MS Office 365, Google Calendar, Gmail, Power BI, Outlook, ServiceNow, JotForm, Google Drive, Looker, Vimeo, DropBox, Trello, GitLab, and a growing list of other apps. Plus, a plan with Zapier or Tray.io can let you access other apps to connect with Asana.
- Highly customizable
- Enhanced transparency across teams
- Effective task management
- Can be overwhelming for simple to-do lists
- Steep learning curve for beginners
Hubstaff is a time tracking and productivity management software that helps businesses and remote teams monitor the time spent on tasks and projects. It enables organizations to track employee work hours, measure productivity, and streamline remote work management.
Why I picked Hubstaff: I added Hubstaff to my list because it offers comprehensive time tracking features that enable businesses to monitor how employees allocate their time to different tasks and projects. I find this data useful to identify bottlenecks, improve resource allocation, and optimize workflows.
Secondly, the software provides remote workforce management capabilities, which I find are increasingly essential in today's distributed work environments. It offers features like activity monitoring, screenshot capture, and GPS tracking for remote teams, ensuring that employees remain accountable and productive while working from different locations.
Hubstaff Standout Features & Integrations
Features include its payroll management and task management features for agile teams. Hubstaff assists in payroll management by accurately recording hours worked, making it easier to calculate employee salaries and streamline the payroll process. The task management module allows you to set daily or weekly standups with reminders. These will help your team stay aligned and engaged in each sprint.
Integrations include Active Collab, Asana, Breeze, ClickUp, GitHub, GitLab, Insightly, JIRA, LiquidPlanner, Mavenlink, Paymo, PivotalTracker, Podio, Redbooth, Redmine, Teamwork Projects, Trello, Unfuddle, Wrike, Zoho Projects, Slack, Zendesk, Salesforce, QuickBooks, and other apps. You can boost your integration options with a paid plan through Zapier, unlocking hundreds of other possible connections.
- Makes it easier to manage employee compensation
- Reports on employee productivity
- Provides precise time tracking features
- Limited offline use
- GPS tracking features can face employee resistance
nTask is a project management software that is built to help small and medium businesses track their projects, tasks, issues, risks, and time.
Why I picked nTask: This tool made it onto my list because it's packed with features which gives you lots of value for the price you pay. I love that it offers a centralized platform for tasks, projects, and team collaboration. I find it makes it easier for you to plan, execute, and monitor your projects efficiently.
Features like task assignment, time tracking, Gantt charts, and customizable project templates are also appreciated. In my opinion, nTask equips you with the tools you need to streamline workflows and stay organized.
nTask Standout Features & Integrations
Features include billing methods and financial alerts. nTask lets you choose between an hourly rate per resource or task and fixed rates. This way, you can have better control over your project financials. And speaking of financials, the platform lets you send a reminder when your project actuals go over the percentage you specify for them.
Integrations include pre-built options with Google, Outlook and Apple calendars, Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Zoom. Additionally, you can connect to thousands of other tools via Zapier which requires a paid subscription.
- In-app chat for project-focused team conversations
- Comprehensive project management features
- Available via web and mobile app
- Limited pre-built integrations
- Gantt charts and Kanban boards not available in Basic plan
Visor is a project management platform that integrates with Jira, Salesforce, and Hubspot to streamline and enhance project planning and tracking.
Why I picked Visor: I selected this software because it offers several advantages for project teams that heavily rely on Jira for their work. Firstly, it provides a more user-friendly and intuitive interface compared to Jira's complex and sometimes overwhelming dashboard. I find that this simplification can help team members save time and reduce the learning curve, making it easier to collaborate and stay organized.
Additionally, the software enhances visibility and reporting capabilities by providing a consolidated view of Jira data. In my opinion, this can be particularly valuable for project managers and stakeholders.
Visor Standout Features & Integrations
Features include Visor's workbook and dashboards. Workbooks will let you combine information from multiple sources in a single view, allowing you to build multi-app workflows. Additionally, its dashboards and reporting tools allow users to track key performance indicators, identify bottlenecks, and make data-driven decisions. This level of insight can lead to improved project planning and resource allocation, ultimately boosting productivity by helping teams stay on track and meet their goals more effectively.
Integrations include native 2-way sync with Hubspot, Salesforce and Jira.
- 2-way sync that sends back info to source
- Colorful and friendly UI
- Makes multi-app workflows possible
- It’s only a viewer - needs another tool
- Sync credits are limited
Trello is a web-based project management tool that allows individuals and teams to organize and collaborate on tasks and projects using customizable boards and cards. It provides an easy-to-use interface and various features to streamline workflows and track progress.
Why I picked Trello: I believe this software is great for teams using agile methodologies and has a relatively flat learning curve. Part of why I chose it is due its friendly user interface, that allows you to drag and drop cards to organize your work.
Additionally, I appreciate the versatility and customization options that make it adaptable to a wide range of projects and workflows. Having customizable boards, lists, and cards allows teams to create a structure that works best for them. This ultimately enhances productivity and collaboration.
Trello Standout Features & Integrations
Features that stand out include its powerful integration capabilities and its flexible automation options. Trello can seamlessly connect with other popular tools and platforms allowing users to bring in relevant data and updates from various sources directly into their Trello boards, saving time and effort by centralizing information.
Trello's automation options, known as 'Butler,' empower users to automate routine and repetitive tasks, reducing manual work and improving productivity.
Integrations include 200+ apps and tools your team depends on, like Slack, Google Drive, Salesforce, Dropbox directly into your Trello boards. (Note: Some connections require an additional subscription fee.)
- Unlimited cards in free plan
- Easy to learn and use
- Lots of visual information on cards
- Limited functionality for large-scale projects
- Lack of advanced reporting
Monday.com is a cloud-based project management platform that allows businesses to manage tasks, projects, and team work.
Why I picked monday.com: This software is excellent for building custom workflows and task lists. I say this because it offers a highly flexible and customizable platform. The platform provides the versatility to create task lists, track progress, set deadlines and collaborate in real time, enabling seamless communication and transparency.
I appreciate the visual and intuitive interface, which ensures that all team members are on the same page, enhancing productivity. I also find that it helps reduce time wasted in meetings and follow-ups, making multi-step processes organized and manageable. This level of organization and efficiency can have a significant, positive impact on team productivity and throughput.
monday.com Standout Features & Integrations
Features that stand out to me include the automations builder and custom fields. The automations builder is a drag and drop interface that you can use to quickly whip up automatic actions that the system can take, like notifying a specific user, based on certain triggers. This will help get rid of repetitive tasks. The custom fields on the other hand will allow you add more visual information to your task tables, allowing you to see more information about a task at a glance.
Integrations include pre-built connections to apps like Slack, Google Drive, DocuSign, Gmail, Google Calendar, Jira, GitHub, Trello, Dropbox, Typeform and many more. Additionally, you can connect to thousands of additional apps via Zapier.
- Helpful visual/color coding customization
- Long list of supported integrations
- Huge focus on collaboration
- Gantt charts locked to mid-level plan
- Complex pricing rubric
Kintone is a cloud-based platform that allows businesses to create custom applications for data management. It provides features for database applications, collaboration, workflow automation, and reporting.
Why I picked Kintone: The platform was an easy choice for me because it enables non-technical users to build and manage their own applications with a drag-and-drop interface, without the need for coding skills. Although it’s not a plug-and-play type of solution, I find the customization options available when building your project-related apps can improve your team’s productivity by displaying only what is needed.
With this software, you can automate workflows, generate detailed reports, and effectively track project progress. It ensures transparency and efficient handling of tasks, which I think positions it as an ideal tool for comprehensive project management.
Features that stand out include the ones that filter and prioritize tasks by data field or team member to generate custom reports or dashboard views. I also appreciate the ability to automate reminders and handoffs between team members for multi-step workflows.
Integrations include Slack, Gmail, Google Calendar, Outlook, Tableau, Dropbox, Salesforce, HubSpot, Eventbrite, WordPress, QuickBooks, MailChimp, and many more through a paid plan with Zapier or via API integrations.
- Data is easy to pull and manipulate into good looking reports
- Admin accounts have access to tons of customization tools
- Flexible pricing that includes special deals for schools and NPOs
- Limited to 5GB/user storage on every pricing tier
- No single-user plan available (minimum 5 users)
Wrike is a cloud-based project management software that allows teams to collaborate and manage projects online.
Why I picked Wrike: I picked Wrike because of its proofing module. It offers a centralized platform for reviewing, editing, and approving digital content such as images, documents, videos, etc., which I think is really handy. It allows team members to easily submit their work for review, while managers and other team members can provide feedback directly on the document, reducing the need for lengthy email chains or separate feedback documents.
This feature not only saves me time but also reduces miscommunication and ensures everyone is on the same page, leading to faster decision-making and improving overall productivity.
Wrike Standout Features and Integrations
Features that stand out include time tracking and its interactive Gantt charts. I like the built-in time tracking features because they allow you to monitor how much time is spent on a particular task or project. It provides detailed insights into productivity and can help in managing workload, prioritizing tasks, and ensuring deadlines are met. The Gantt charts allow you to easily adjust schedules by dragging and dropping tasks, set dependencies between tasks, and see how changes in one area affect the overall project.
Integrations include 400+ pre-built native integrations, including integrations with the most popular file management software from Microsoft, Google, and Dropbox, along with sales and marketing software from Salesforce and Marketo.
- Many options and opportunities to customize
- Holistic, comprehensive task modeling
- Different ways to view the same data
- No offline access
- No subtasks in the freemium plan
Best productivity tool for instant messaging between teams
90-day free trial + free plan available
Best for building task lists with prioritization
Free trial available
Best for a clean, simple, & easy-to-use interface
30-day free trial + free plan available
Best for managing remote and field teams
14-day free trial
Best productivity tool for SMBs
Free trial available
Best for its user-friendly interface
Free plan available
|From $9 /user/month||Website|
Best for card-based task lists and Kanban boards
Free trial + free plan available
Best for custom workflows and task boards
14-day free trial + free plan available
|From $8/user/month (billed annually, min 3 seats)||Website|
Best for building custom productivity apps
30-day free trial
Best productivity tool for proofing files using real-time collaboration
Free plan available
Best for flexible project views according to team needs
Best for small to medium-sized teams looking for a simple platform
Best for teams requiring a balance of project management and data organization
Best for note taking
Best for automating workflows through integrations
Best productivity tool for free time tracking
Best for software development and agile project management
Best for knowledge management and project documentation
Best for teams looking to get an all-in-one platform that is versatile
Best productivity tool for time tracking with invoicing
How I Selected The Best Productivity Tools
To build this list, I evaluated and compared a wide range of productivity tools with positive user ratings. After determining my long list of top choices, I further honed my list by using the selection criteria below to see how each platform stacked up against the next one. I also drew on my years of project management experience to pinpoint the features that add a lot of value.
Here’s a short summary of the main selection and evaluation criteria I used to develop my list of the best productivity tools for this article:
- Task and Project Management: These tools provide a platform for creating and managing tasks, projects, and workflows. You can define checklists, assign tasks to team members, set due dates, and track progress. Project management tools often include features like Gantt charts to visualize project timelines and dependencies.
- Collaboration and Communication: Effective communication and collaboration are essential for project success. Productivity tools often offer features like messaging, comments, file sharing, and integration with email or chat applications. This keeps team members connected and informed about project updates.
- Time and Resource Tracking: These tools commonly provide a time tracker that allows you to monitor the time spent on tasks and projects, helping you manage resources efficiently. Time tracking can also aid in tracking billable hours to evaluate project costs and estimate future projects accurately. Resource allocation and workload management are also common features in these tools.
- Reporting and Analytics: To assess project progress and performance, productivity tools provide reporting and analytics features. They offer various metrics, charts, and reports to help you measure KPIs, identify bottlenecks, and make data-driven decisions. This data can be used to improve project efficiency and make adjustments as necessary.
Usability directly impacts the software's effectiveness and the productivity of your project teams. A user-friendly interface and intuitive features ensure that team members can quickly adapt to the software, reducing the learning curve and minimizing errors. This not only accelerates the onboarding process but also fosters greater user engagement, collaboration, and overall satisfaction. A user-centric design encourages regular and accurate usage of the software, ultimately leading to improved project management efficiency, better decision-making, and successful project outcomes.
Integrations enable the software to connect with other essential tools and platforms, such as calendars, note-taking apps like Evernote, document sharing, time tracking software, and reporting tools, fostering a seamless flow of information and data. This interconnected ecosystem empowers teams to work more cohesively and efficiently, with real-time data synchronization and reduced manual data entry. Consequently, integrations not only save time but also ensure that project managers have access to the most up-to-date information, allowing for informed decision-making, improved collaboration, and a more effective project management process.
Pricing directly affects the affordability and sustainability of your project management solution. Careful consideration of pricing ensures that you stay within your budget constraints while still obtaining the necessary features and capabilities for your project needs. Therefore, I look at the cost of each tool per month, when available. I also search for discounts, trial information, and free versions of the software that can help you judge its value.
How do you explain productivity at work?
What is the key to productivity in projects?
What’s one way in which I can increase my productivity?
A project manager's productivity is pivotal to the success of any project, and having the right tools at their disposal can make a world of difference. By choosing the tools that best align with your project's unique needs, you can streamline your workflows, foster effective communication, and make data-driven decisions.
Ultimately, the combination of these productivity-enhancing tools empowers project managers to not only meet project goals more efficiently but also adapt and excel in an ever-evolving professional landscape. Learn more productivity tips that will help you excel in your field!
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