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I can’t be the only one who thinks that with better productivity tools for teams, we’d be more… productive. I want to spend more time doing what matters, and that means less time worrying about tools to do the work.
Today I present to you 7 productivity tools for teams that you’ve never heard of (maybe – there are two on the list that you might have come across, but I couldn’t leave them out).
These are all suitable for professional teams and will help you get more organized, stay focused and do more of the tasks that make a difference.
These days I’m doing a lot less technical project management and a lot more business-led project management and
I used to think mindmapping was just for creating my study notes for exams, but in the workplace I’ve discovered it’s far more feature-rich than that.
As well as the ‘classic’ brain dump, you can plot out flow diagrams, create work breakdown structures, process maps and more.
MindManager 2018 has recently been released and it’s easy to use. It even does lists, so brains like mine that don’t work very well with pictures can take advantage of it too. It’s a fast way to collaborate in workshops as it acts like a whiteboard for note capture, plus you can save time writing up the meeting afterwards! The Enterprise version integrates with Microsoft Project and lets your team work together for better productivity.
OK, you’ve heard of Evernote. But I couldn’t leave it out!
I personally don’t use Evernote because I can’t get away from my notebook and pen – I’m a writer at heart and I love actually writing, not typing. However, I know Evernote is the top alternative-to-real-notebooks recommended by my friends and colleagues.
So if you are keen to ditch the sticky notes and get an app that is proven to work, try it out.
It’s not just a personal tool. There is a Business option which allows teams to work together on files and always have the latest info to hand.
Voxer is like a grown up version of WhatsApp voice messaging. It’s so much faster to send my family a quick voice “text” instead of trying to type a message, especially when I’ve got a 4-year old hanging off my leg going, “Can I see mummy?” When you’re trying to reduce time in front of the screen to set a good example to little ones, voice is definitely the way to go.
It works the same for teams too, it’s faster and safer often, especially if you are travelling. And it’s just nicer to hear a voice than read. It’s less likely that your message will be interpreted incorrectly or taken the wrong way.
Voxer is a mobile messaging solution for collaborative teams: you can message individuals or everyone in one go. It sounds pretty cool!
If your team tracks time for clients, it’s worth checking out MinuteDock. It uses natural language input so you don’t have to search for a particular task. I particularly like that it doesn’t force you to assign work to a client or project. It has always frustrated me that when I do things like help out a colleague in the PMO, attend a project managers’ meeting or prepare for my end of year review, timesheet packages try to get me to book that time to a project. Or I have to create a project called ‘Admin’ which is silly.
The less time you spend on time tracking, the more productive you are. Plus, if you bill clients for your project work, it can integrate with your invoicing system.
I met with a mentoring client recently and one of her main issues was spending so much time in meetings that she didn’t have enough time to do her actual work.
I know what that is like, and my solution, when it was really bad for me, was to block time in my diary to do work.
Focuster does that for you, based on what’s on your To Do list. It automatically blocks time in your diary to do your tasks. This would be great for teams where you know that as a group you struggle to focus on your priorities because of ALL THE THINGS. Get everyone using this and I can see that you’d up your productivity.
What I really love about it is the prompt you get when you’ve overloaded your schedule, so that you can reorganise your day. Not that I ever do that, of course J
Yanado is a Chrome extension. It’s a gmail add-on that lets you turn emails into tasks and manage your To Do list from your gmail inbox. I know not every business user has a gmail account, but with small businesses it seems to be getting more common that the backend email system is gmail through G Suite – so your email address is firstname.lastname@example.org but it’s powered by gmail.
If that sounds like you, this could work well for decreasing the amount of tools you need. The reviews are good and if you can overlook the imperfect English on the website (the team is Bulgarian) this seems like a solid solution for managing straightforward tasks and projects.
You need the Startup plan for team collaboration, but you can get a feel for what it is like with a free account.
Have you heard of using Dropbox for business? You’ve probably have heard of this one, but maybe in the context of personal use. I use it for photo backups for my personal folders and also for work, sharing files with my team.
I don’t know where I would be without Dropbox.
Actually, I do know – having a nightmare time trying to use Google Docs, which I am having to use for a client at the moment and let’s just say it’s not my idea of fun.
If your team need secure storage, easy access to shared files and something that is natively easy to use, then Dropbox is perfect. I also love that it lets me work offline so even when the internet is flaky I can still access my files.
How Do I Choose A Productivity Tool for Teams?
So many tools! How do you choose? Here are a few questions to ask yourself to get the right tool for your team.
Where is it hosted?
Cloud tools are good if your team is virtual or travels a lot, but you might want to consider the information security requirements, especially if you plan to share confidential information. No one expects their data to be hacked, but if that would present a serious business risk to you, on-premise solutions like MindManager may be more suited to your environment.
What features will I use?
It doesn’t make sense to pay for features that you aren’t going to use – although if the tool is stellar and you can definitely see the benefit, that could be a trade-off you are prepared to make.
What does it integrate with?
MindManager integrates with Dropbox, SharePoint and more. MinuteDock integrates with Xero, Freshbooks and others. If you have lots of other tools in your business, make sure that you are choosing something that will work with the rest of your tech stack.
This article previously appeared in 2019.