7 Free Tools to Increase Productivity

April 14, 2016

8:00 pm

In the world of startups, time off can be quite elusive. Working all the time has become the norm and maximizing each minute has become a necessity. And if you are tired of struggling through a never-ending list of tasks, the use productivity tools could be your saving grace.

Whether you’re developing the next big thing, running a hybrid branding agency, or thriving as an entrepreneur within a large organization, you can surely relate to the value of getting the most out of every day by streamlining schedules in order to keep teams in sync. To do so, here’s a shortlist of top tools that will make the struggle a little easier.

Scheduling Tools

Assistant.to

This Chrome plug-in allows you to schedule one-on-one meetings by inserting your available calendar times directly into a particular email. When the recipient chooses a preferred slot, you both get calendar reminders instantly. Assistant.to happily eliminates the hassle of back and forth email threads in an effort to find a time that suits both parties.

 Calendly

Calendly is for scheduling outside of email. You get a user profile page on the Calendly site, or you can directly embedded it into your website (they provide ready-to-paste code for this). It syncs directly with your calendar and you can set buffer times, turn days on or off and add questions for schedulers. The paid version is even more practical, particularly if you have a growing team that needs to manage individual calendars. Check out a live example here. See the blue scheduling button in the bottom right? That’s it!

Doodle

This program helps with group scheduling needs. This tool displays a matrix of time slots that allow participants to coordinate scheduling times throughout the day. When picking from multiple time slots, users are able to see the groups answers in order to coordinate toward the most popular timeframe. Thanks to Doodle, you’ll never have to  hit the ‘reply-all’ button ever again. Hallelujah.

Calls and Video Chat

Hangouts

This service, brought to you by Google, is the ultimate tool for working remotely and staying connected. It has screen-sharing capabilities along with video and group chat services. You can also record the session and doodle on participants’ faces if you get bored. In order to work remotely and stay connected without breaking the bank, this is your solution.

Speek

Use Speek to avoid the nuisance of entering a random sequence of numbers to join a conference call — this app calls you!  You can use Speek  with a phone or computer mic . It’ll even record the conversation and send notes if you are particularly anal about your record keeping. This feature is great for filling in clients or team members who couldn’t make the call, without driving your intern insane by forcing them to take notes.

Cloud Storage and Project Management

Google Drive

Google Drive is the one-stop shop for all of your document creation, sharing and storage needs. Similar to Microsoft Office (only much less expensive, at the price point of zero dollars), you can create spreadsheets, forms, and presentations. The only downfall to Slides is that presentations will often be incompatible if downloaded to Powerpoint or Keynote. All Google Drive apps allow for private sharing to specific individuals. Emails do not have to be Google-based in order to view, comment or edit files. Sharing also boosts group productivity as many people can work on the same file simultaneously. It even includes a live chat feature to discuss questions as they arise. Best of all, Drive syncs to desktop and auto-saves everything.

Asana

The perfect platform to keep track of tasks and measure productivity, Asana organizes tasks, assigns projects, receives progress alerts, communicates timelines and sets due dates. There are even virtual unicorns to cheer you on throughout the day! The web app is quite robust, and the mobile app is fantastic and runs smoothly on all devices.

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Mariya Bouraima, avid world traveler and proud mompreneur, launched Aveya Creative in 2012 — the first branding and marketing agency in the nation’s capital dedicated to entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs. The grand mission? To transform innovative ideas into extraordinary brands. Core services at Aveya Creative are brand strategy, logos and taglines, pitch coaching and design; optimized copywriting, ad creative, press releases and social media management are also part of the mix. Mariya has led the growing team with endless enthusiasm to develop branding and marketing for entrepreneurs in diverse industries across the United States, including prominent tech startups at incubators such as 1776 in Washington DC and Y Combinator in San Francisco. Mariya loves to get involved in the startup community through writing for Tech.Co, Medium, LinkedIn Pulse and WeWork Creator magazine. She speaks annually at Modev UX conferences, teaches at General Assembly and Startup Institute and moderates panels at Next Tech and Ladies America events. She is a mentor at Lean Startup Machine, Conscious Venture Lab, Bethesda Green incubator and KickDC accelerator. She also hosts BrandNew roundtable discussions and serves as judge at the GW New Venture Competition at her alma mater, The George Washington University. Before Aveya, Mariya worked in account management at Ogilvy while completing her Masters in Brand Management in Paris, France; managed social media at the State Department; ran the Institute for Sustainability at GWU in DC from day one including branding, events and communications; was in sales and marketing for The Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis hotels. She's always loved freelancing on the side: French translation of marketing campaigns for companies like Airbnb, P&G, Danone and several government clients including DOS and DOJ. Her 10+ years of experience are diverse as they are full of energy for branding and marketing -- always on the pulse of innovation and positive impact.

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