I work at a huge co-working space with about 75 young-growth companies. Once a month, a few of us sit down and cover a different business topic with the intention to collaborate and help each other out. “Tool Time,” in which we chat about our top productivity tools, is always a favorite topic. We share our best tips on the tools that are making our lives and businesses easier and more productive.
We’re fresh off our latest annual review of all the interesting tools that we find helpful in increasing our productivity, team communications or the client/customer funnel. I’ve had a chance to try most of the tools now — some of which have been game-changers.
Here’s my personal roundup of the top productivity tools that have proven useful in business and in life. If you’re a web designer or developer, I highly suggest checking them out for yourself.
Who’s not on Slack? Seems like almost everyone is using Slack these days. This was the top choice of our Tool Time two years ago, and the app just keeps getting better. Make sure you’re also using the available extensions, as Slack recently kicked off an $80 million fund to invest in companies that complement its platform.
UXPin is my personal favourite wireframing tool. It is powerful enough to create really high fidelity wireframes. At the same time, it also offers solid low fidelity wireframes (not quite comic book style, but close). I was using Balsamiq Mockups for years, but have switched to UXPin exclusively.
If you’re a UI or graphic designer and you’re not using Sketch (available for Mac only), go buy it now. Sketch is simply an amazing alternative to using Photoshop for mockups. Its features include precise pixel fine-tuning, easy-to-use layers for every object you create, and the Inspector — where you can control every detail of the design. If you’re a CS/Photoshop diehard, give it a try for a month and I believe you will see the light.
At my company, we have used Proposify for about a year to manage our client proposals. We think it is the best tool for getting proposals out to clients quickly.
My favourite part of Proposify is the customizable templates (which you can save and re-jig for each client) and how the platform handles signatures.
Spoiler alert: it’s super easy and no logins are required for the client.
x.ai is the personal assistant you didn’t know you needed. You might be hearing a lot of hype about it, not to mention its growing wait list for beta access — and might just be worth it. With x.ai, an email-based artificial assistant schedules meetings on your behalf. Just CC firstname.lastname@example.org to any email where you’re discussing finding a meeting time, and x.ai takes over. Next thing you know, a meeting appears on your calendar. Boom!
In my opinion, Crystal is kind of creepy and awesome at the same time. The app finds out everything it can about people on the internet, based on public data analysis, and then classifies them into distinct personalities. Think Myers-Briggs on steroids. What’s interesting about Crystal is that it helps you manage people in your business and in life — from how they like to communicate to what to avoid when speaking with them. To test it out, first try inputting your name into the system to see how accurate it is.
Have you ever needed to set up a Delaware-based C-Corp? Next time, use Clerky. I recently set up a company through Clerky and the process was amazingly simple. All the paperwork was handled for me and it was fast and intuitive. Clerky also allows you to invite others to moderate your work — your lawyer, for example. In addition, it can handle stock option plans and other legal goodies.
Roadmunk is a roadmapping software, created especially for product managers. As a web designer or developer, Roadmunk is helpful if you’re working on a big project or with a client for an extended period of time. Use Roadmunk to make sexy, shareable roadmaps that keep everyone on track.
Full disclosure: the co-founder of this company is a good friend of mine — and that just makes me like Roadmunk even more.
I liken Mautic to being an open-source Hubspot. I’ve never used it personally, but a few friends have said positive things. Something to check out if you’re shopping around for a marketing automation tool. It’s free. What could go wrong?
A Y Combinator graduate, LogDNA is an exceptionally handy log tool. With it, you can see how users are using your app, you can debug faster, and you can log everything in one place. It’s got a free tier in its pricing for new users, and setup is simple. What else is there to say? I like this product.
More productivity tools to try
There are innumerable productivity tools out there, many of which have been recommended to me but I haven’t tried yet. Other such tools that came up in our latest Tool Time include:
- Groove — for your support ticket handling and knowledge base.
- tawk.to — if you’re looking for a free version of Intercom, you’ll like this tool.
- Charlie — this app provides you with a one-pager on anyone you have a meeting with.
What are some of your favorite productivity tools? Please share them in the comments.