19 Best Productivity Software

In the 1980s, office suites brought word processing and database programs to consumers’ desktops as some of the original productivity software. Since then, technology has taken off. Productivity software seems to be everywhere, and it can be integrated into your personal or professional life.

Although productivity software is technically anything that allows you to create and edit a document, other programs are emerging to make people even more efficient. Time management software and project management software are two prime examples of technology that enhances productivity.

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the best productivity software that exists today and explain how it can uplevel your life.

Document Creation Software

According to PC Mag, the definition of productivity software is “an application people use to ‘produce’ information.”  Whether you’re creating or modifying an image, document, video or audio segment on a computing device, you’re using productivity software.

It used to be that Microsoft Office was the go-to for creating documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. That world has opened up, though, and there are many other programs available now.

Microsoft Office

Even though this is not the only option, we feel the need to touch on it because it has been around for so long and is one of the primary productivity software suites for many applications.

Microsoft Office includes the following programs:

  • Word – Word processing software that allows you to create and edit documents.
  • Excel – Spreadsheet software that lets you store, organize, and calculate data. It features graphing tools, calculation options, and pivot tables.
  • PowerPoint – Create slideshows for presentations or personal reasons
  • Outlook
  • OneNote
  • OneDrive
  • Publisher – Available for PC only, this program allows you to create any document that needs to be laid out graphically, such as calendars, email templates, greeting cards, and brochures.
  • Access – Also available for PC only, this program lets you build and manage a database with a user-friendly interface instead of requiring you to pore through a spreadsheet.

Google Docs

Many people are switching to Google Docs for its ease of use, price tag (it’s free)and shareability. Google Docs serves as a document creation program. You can create documents from scratch or using templates, spreadsheets, slideshow presentations, and forms.

Google also serves as a file storage drive that saves your documents in the cloud so that you can access them from anywhere. You can share files with others and assign various levels of control. You might allow everyone on your team to edit the files to which they have access. They can leave comments so that you can streamline your workflow without having to arrange unnecessary meetings.

Some ways that you can use Google Docs to enhance your productivity include:

  • Color coding your folders for better organization
  • Use templates for recurring projects so that you don’t have to start anew every time
  • Use the voice-to-type feature
  • Work on files offline and automatically sync them when you have access to the internet
  • Use a Chrome extension to save images from websites directly to your Google drive
  • Use apps and add-ons, such as faxing or conference calls, to boost productivity


With social media so prevalent, consumers need to create image-heavy documents. But when you’re putting together a profile picture, cover photo, banner or Instagram post, you need to create your image at the appropriate size. Not only that, but you also may need to add text or create a sharp layout.

Canva is a free app that lets you quickly design anything. Its templates are developed so that you can drag and drop your text and images. You don’t have to know anything about image size.

You can work from templates or build your image from scratch. Because you can also use it on a computer or mobile device, Canva is one of the most efficient image creators out there.

Email Management Software

Email is designed to make you more productive because you don’t have to spend valuable time on the phone. You can send messages to more than one person at once and share files.

But email has become a productivity killer. So many people get unwanted emails from newsletters they’ve signed up for that their inboxes are disorganized.

People are spending half of their workday dealing with emails. The average person sends and receives about 125 emails daily. If you feel the need to check your email frequently, you also lose focus on the task at hand.

Email management software helps your inbox become more productive. It automatically organizes your emails and takes care of spam so that you don’t waste time sifting through your inbox. Email management software can also combine inboxes and track replies and follows so that your entire team can provide customer support.

But implementing software means learning new skills and dealing with support when it doesn’t work properly. Here are some email management software programs that won’t be a burden.


You might not want to use an entirely new email system. If you’re happy using Gmail, you can use Followup to make sure that messages don’t slip through the cracks. The software offers various tiers, with the more expensive ones offering extra perks.

The Professional tier, which is the most popular, includes:

  • Email open/click tracking
  • Follow-up reminders
  • Automatic follow-ups
  • Reminders for webpages, online conversations or social media profiles
  • Send scheduling
  • Attachment support
  • 5 email aliases


If you get too many emails from newsletter subscriptions, you can roll them all into one huge message that you can read at your convenience using Unroll.me. You won’t have to spend your precious time checking off boxes just to delete unwanted messages.

You can also view a list of all of your subscriptions so that you can quickly decide which to keep and which to unsubscribe from. All you have to do is click a box to unsubscribe.

This is one of the easiest email management programs to use. It’s also free.


If you don’t want to worry about learning to use a new piece of software, leave it to SaneBox. Robots learn your habits and filter out unimportant emails.

Some email services, like Gmail, do this already. So how is SaneBox different? Besides automatically decluttering your inbox, this software lets you schedule breaks using its Do Not Disturb function. You won’t be distracted by new emails coming in during this time. You can also unsubscribe from lists with one click.

Finally, the reminders help you stay on top of things. You can snooze emails, track replies and get notified when someone hasn’t responded to you.

Time Management Software

One of the biggest enemies of productivity is time. Actually, time can also work to your advantage. You just have to know how to manage it.

Many people are oblivious to how they spend their time. Sure, you may know that you go to work from 8 to 5. But do you know how much of your time is spent on emails, phone calls and at the water cooler? If you’re not tracking your time, you’re missing out on a crucial component of productivity.

When you want to become more productive, you need to know how much you’re doing in a particular amount of time. Then, you can tweak the formula to produce more in less time. But you can’t do that if you don’t know what you’re doing with your time in the first place.

Time management software gives you a window into your habits so that you can fine-tune your schedule. Some of the software that we describe is geared toward tracking how you spend your time when you’re online. Other programs and apps let you optimize your efficiency whether you’re using technology or doing something else.


If you struggle with work-life balance, RescueTime can help you understand your habits so that you can concentrate better. It works in the background of your mobile device or computer to track where you’re spending your time online.

You can also set timers to alert you when you’ve spent a specific amount of time in one place. If you don’t want to have access to distracting websites while you work, you can block them using this software.


StayFocusd is a free Chrome extension that lets you configure your website usage to help you stay productive. If you tend to click back and forth between the task at hand and your email inbox or social media, you can block those distracting sites or limit the time that you spend on them.

Once you use up your time, you won’t be able to access the time-wasting sites for the rest of the day. Of course, you set up the sites that you want to block. You have to be honest with yourself about where your productivity is suffering if you want this software to work for you.

One of the biggest benefits of this software is that it’s highly customizable. You can block entire websites or just certain pages. You can also block certain types of content that may appear on websites, like images or videos.


Toggl is a handy time tracker that lets you set timers for any application that you’re using on your computer or mobile device. One of the greatest advantages of using this software is that it integrates with hundreds of other apps. Therefore, you don’t have to navigate to Toggl separately when you’re working on a particular website or app.

You can also enter your time manually or integrate the software with your calendar to create a time entry for any activity that you do, whether it’s online or offline.

Toggl can track how much your time is costing you. It also lets you assign billable rates for your work.

You can sync it with any device. If you start the timer on your phone and turn it off on your computer, Toggl works seamlessly.

Pomodoro Apps

Take time management to the next level using Pomodoro apps. The Pomodoro Technique is a time-management method that helps you crack your procrastination patterns and create a habit of productivity.

Do you race against the clock only to burn out when you finally finish a project? Do you wonder where your time goes and feel like there’s never enough of it? Become more aware of your time and use this formula to limit distractions.

The Pomodoro Technique isn’t revolutionary.  The basic premise is that you work in 25-minute chunks of time, taking five-minute breaks in between. When you’ve completed four sets of work and break periods, you take a longer, 20-30 minute break.

The key to mastering this technique is to use a timer. Watching the clock isn’t enough. When you’re not on break, you work diligently, turning off your phone and limiting snack and bathroom breaks. When you’re on a break, you can take care of nature’s urges or do something relaxing that’s completely unassociated with the task at hand.

The beauty of this method is that it’s simple and doesn’t require anything other than a timer. You can benefit from it immediately.

Once you start to use the Pomodoro Technique, you have a record of how you use your time if you’re writing it down. This can help you estimate the time that a particular project will take you down the road. You can make the technique more effective by reviewing what you’ve done in the past and adjusting the time frames to work for you.

That’s where Pomodoro Apps come in. They help you define your objectives and keep track of your data so that you can analyze it and learn from it.


If you use any of the project management software that we include in the next section of this article, you can integrate it with Pomodone to spend distraction-free chunks of time on each task. This allows you to boost the workflows that you’ve already created using the Pomodoro Technique.

You don’t have to import the tasks into the app because it’s already integrated. Even if you don’t use other productivity software, you can add tasks to the app manually. It’s robust and customizable. You can customize your work and break times.

You can also enhance your concentration by using the app to block websites while you’re working. Chrome also has a Pomodone integration, which lets you track how much time you spend on a website.

Focus Booster

Focus Booster is simple to use. It basically combines a timer and notebook into one. Whereas you would typically keep track of what you accomplish during each time segment in a notebook, Focus Booster records it for you.

The main advantage, beyond using the timer, is that the app provides detailed reports of how you used your time. You can even segment it out by client and download the data into a CSV file. This makes invoicing and billing a cinch.

Focus To-Do

Do you love your to-do lists but find yourself having trouble getting everything done? Focus To-Do combines task lists with the Pomodoro Technique.

You can use it for anything, including making shopping lists and event plans or scheduling your daily routine.

When you’re creating your tasks, you can categorize them into projects and set priorities. Break larger goals up into smaller action steps to make your life easier. You can also set reminders for those tasks that you can’t forget.

This app also keeps track of your time and habits. The reports show you how you spent your time, how many items you completed and how much time you spent on focused activities. As you complete your projects, you contribute to the growth of a virtual plant. The plant dies if you procrastinate or ignore your to-dos.

Project Management and Comprehensive Productivity Software

We’ve saved the best for last. If you want to boost your productivity at work and at home, you need to get and stay organized. Creating systems is one of the best ways to do this.

Unfortunately, most people neglect to build a structure around their productivity. If you’re always flying by the seat of your pants, you likely have to spend extra time determining the next step and making decisions.

Project management software simplifies every aspect of planning. It lets you gather information from multiple sources and keep track of it. It allows you to set goals and divide them into action steps. It even gives you a chance to communicate with the other people involved in the project without opening your email.

Plus, all of the software that we list below integrates with Pomodone and other time-tracking software so that you can be extra efficient by gaining awareness of the time that you spend working or slacking off.

You might want to use the different productivity software options before deciding which is ideal for you. You and your teammates are probably not going to stick with it if you don’t enjoy using it. Plus, if it’s too difficult for you to use, it won’t do anything to improve your productivity.


You can use Trello to streamline every project, including vacation planning, organizing your day, making meal plans and even planning the blog posts you want to read. This software is also ideal for collaborating with others. You can assign tasks and leave comments for team members who are working on the same project. Plus, it syncs with all of your devices.

The software organizes all of the content into lists and cards. You can move the cards from list to list the way you might move sticky notes around. Add attachments, due dates or checklists to each card to make them even more usable. Place the lists and cards on different boards, depending on the project.

Users like the visual appeal of Trello. If you are the kind of person who has always used index cards and file folders to organize your life, you’ll probably feel comfortable with the Trello format. It takes those concepts and translates them into a virtual format.


Asana is another popular project management software option that helps you accomplish complex undertakings. It has fuller features than Trello, which means that it’s not as streamlined. However, it can help you achieve more if you want to spend the time learning how to use it.

View your tasks in the form of lists, timelines, calendars, and conversations. Categorize the tasks by project. Assign tasks and subtasks, invite users to your team and keep everyone updated in real time as the project progresses.

One of the best aspects of Asana is that you can pinpoint which tasks need to be accomplished before you can start others. View these items on a timeline to see whether they’re logical and work together well.

Even though Asana is so robust, it’s easy to use. It has a sleek design and features clear labels and controls that let you get started quickly.

Asana supports many third-party applications. It offers support for Google Drive and Dropbox. A Chrome extension lets you create tasks from URLs.


Basecamp is marketed as project management and team communication software. It lets you quickly add checklists and sub-tasks to larger projects, create deadlines and assign them to team members.

It’s fine to use for personal projects, but it’s even better when your tasks involve multiple people. With Basecamp, you keep everything together, including messages, files, and tasks.

You can even have group chats in real time in a chat room devoted to a particular project. Another standout feature is the ability to forward emails directly to Basecamp so that you can discuss them with your team.

If you work with clients, turn the client-facing features on to keep them in the loop. They don’t have to know how to use the intricacies of the platform to benefit from it.


If you’re looking for something a little simpler that’s ideal for personal use or managing a household, consider using Todoist. This app is ideal for creating to-do lists and checking them off. It’s similar to Focus To-Do but doesn’t have an integrated Pomodoro timer.

Because the user interface is so straightforward and Todoist integrates with your favorite apps, it’s a powerful platform. You can even coordinate it with Amazon Echo so that you can ask Alexa to read out your tasks for the day or use your voice to add items to your list.

You can also collaborate with others using Todoist, making it useful for home or work.

Other Productivity Software

We can’t finish this article without discussing some of the miscellaneous productivity software that’s out there. Some tools are so open-ended that you can tailor the way that you use them.


Evernote is a note-taking app that syncs across all of your devices. You can record any idea, whether it’s the lyrics to a new song or the media that you want to consume.

Users can tweak it to create to-do lists and manage projects. You can drag web pages into the app or capture inspiration using text or voice.

The paid plans feature collaboration options so that you can add team members to your lists and project. They also let you set reminders.

Some of the popular Evernote features include:

  • Web clipper – Quickly clip a webpage for access later
  • Multi-device sync – Retrieve your information from any device
  • Search handwriting – Find words in handwritten notes
  • Notebooks and tags – Organize your notes however you want and make them easily searchable
  • Document scanning – Scan important documents and attach them to your notes
  • PDF and document search – Use the robust search feature to find any information that you’ve uploaded to Evernote


You might not consider this meditation app to be productivity software. After all, if you take time away from your busy schedule to do absolutely nothing, how much are you accomplishing?

Research shows that you get more done when you take more breaks. Using those breaks wisely can further improve your efficiency.

If you’re too busy to meditate, you should probably meditate. Meditation allows you to cope better with stress to avoid the burnout that’s inevitable when you force yourself to do more in a shorter time frame.

Moreover, it improves your ability to focus. When you meditate, you learn how to resist distractions. You become more intentional and defy urges that tell you that you really should watch TV for a little longer, check your email or scroll through social media before you get your work done.

Calm is an app that can help you get into a meditation habit. It contains guided meditations that help you get into the right headspace without relying on your own brainpower. Calm also has sleep stories, which lull you to sleep, and guided lessons on stretching and moving your body mindfully. Finally, it includes music to help you relax and focus.


You can be on top of everything in your life, but if you’re not aware of your budget and spending, things may always feel somewhat chaotic. Mint is a budgeting software that allows you to be more productive when tracking and organizing your finances.

Stay on top of your bills without having to dig through paperwork or log into multiple websites. Create budgets, and follow Mint’s suggestions that are based on your spending. Mint even lets you monitor your credit from one place.

When you become more efficient in life, you can breathe more easily. Organizing your tasks reduces stress because you don’t let anything slip through the cracks, and you don’t dredge up the guilt that comes from procrastination. See what happens to your productivity when you use some of this software.

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