What do you spend the most time on in the office?
Do meetings or collaborative projects take up most of your day, or do you find yourself spending a disproportionate amount of time on minutia—the mundane but necessary tasks that can become massive time eaters?
If the latter applies to you, it might be time to pare things down. We’ve compiled the 17 most useful apps that will save you time and automate tasks so you can focus on what’s really important—and maybe even impress your boss as a result.
If you frequently work remotely, say from home or during your commute, chances are your files are scattered across multiple devices, like your laptop and iPad. Do you waste time emailing them to yourself or moving them on and off a thumb drive?
Using Google Drive, you can access all your files and documents from anywhere, for free. Your computer is synched to the online drive, and any changes you make to one are automatically made to the other. Get started by downloading the program for PC or Mac and following the instructions here.
In and out of meetings but need to send a file fast? Don’t make a special trip back to your office just to scan a document. Turbo Scan creates high-quality PDFs from pictures you take on your phone.
For example, if you’re signing a contract, you can instantly send yourself or your client a copy. If you’re traveling for business, scan and save receipts instantly so you don’t have to carry them around all week. Turbo Scan costs $2.99 and is available for download via the App Store (iPhone) or Play Store(Android).
Have you ever had the daunting task of setting up a video conference? If you don’t work in an office with a dedicated IT team, this task probably falls to various staff members at random. Take the hassle out of video conferencing with Join.me.
Using the site, anyone with a smartphone or webcam can lead a video conference, invite participants to join and share screens among users. There are no electronics to hook up, no software to download. Get up and running in a few quick clicks.
If you work on billable hours, it can be a pain. When invoicing time rolls around, it’s often a scramble to calculate hours and gather timesheets. Freckle takes the hassle out of time management, but its unique interface is what sets it apart from other time tracking programs.
Freckle tracks your time in a visual manner, rather than in rows and columns on a spreadsheet. It’s ideal for creatives, like writers and designers, who may find traditional time management software restricting. A solo account starts at $19/month, while accounts for teams vary based on size. View pricing options and learn more here.
We can’t say enough good things about Framebench; it’s one of those programs you don’t realize you need until you have it, then you shudder about all the time you wasted before.
In a nutshell, it’s built for managing approval processes where feedback is required from multiple parties. Instead of sending a document around via email and having to merge five different responses, Framebench lets all users add their suggestions and make annotated changes collaboratively.
You can use it for documents, but it’s also great for visuals, like design work, presentations and videos. Once you sign up, you can select a plan on a weekly, monthly or per-project basis.
Stop spending hours scanning paper tax forms and inputting the data into Excel manually. With PDF2XL by Cogniview, you can scan a paper document directly into a workable Excel spreadsheet in a matter of seconds.
You can also use PDF2XL on native PDF files (the kind created digitally), as well as other documents like invoices, inventory lists and more.
You know the old song and dance when trying to email someone a large file–did it go through? Was it too large? Did it bounce back? Waste. Of. Time.
After discovering Dropbox, we’ll never send files by email again. Dropbox is like a digital shared folder where you can drop your stuff. When you’re ready to share it, simply copy a link and send it to your colleague. They can click on the link to see exactly what you see and download the files for themselves.
Dropbox is free when you create of an account for up to 16 GB of storage. If you need more than that, you’ll have to upgrade (or simply create another free account with a different email address).
If ‘mark unread’ is your tool of choice for reminding yourself to follow up on an email, you’re doing it wrong (and probably still forgetting to follow up). Right Inbox alerts you when someone hasn’t responded to an email you’ve sent after a certain period of time. This is particularly useful for those in sales or other fields with a lot of cold calling.
You can also use Right Inbox to schedule future emails and to send recurring emails, like a weekly timesheet reminder you consistently send to your staff. It’s free for up to 10 emails a month, but we’re guessing you’re going to need more than that. Paid plans start at $5.95. Boomerang is a similar service specifically for Gmail.
Obsessive note-takers rejoice. If your desk is covered in sticky notes or some other form of haphazard reminders, Evernote is a place to put all those thoughts, digitally (as they say, a clear desk leads to a clear mind).
Keep lists, add notes from any device, clip relevant web articles and even add photos. Use Evernote as an alternative to having someone type up notes from your staff meeting, or as a workspace for an in-depth research project with lots of moving parts. It’s free when you sign up for an account, or you can enroll in a monthly plan for fancy add-ons.
Nothing is more frustrating than being locked out of one of your own accounts because you can’t remember the password. Talk about a stupid way to spend half an hour. LastPass is the solution.
LastPass gives you highly secure passwords for each of your online accounts—combinations like K0i=56z$22r that we all should be using but never actually do. The great thing is, you only ever have to remember a single, simple LastPass password. The securely encrypted browser extension does the rest. Download Lass Pass for free and use one account across all of your devices.
This app is a godsend for those of us who are easily distracted, trying to get work done while simultaneously browsing the web. Those Buzzfeed articles are so darn tempting! Now, when you see something you want to read, put it in Pocket and it’s waiting there for you later. Make a commitment to use it and it’s like instantly getting minutes of your life back every hour.
A massive time saver for anyone who works with international customers or clients, Google Translate converts spoken word, printed text and even handwriting between 90 different languages.
The translations aren’t always perfect, but in most cases they work well enough to understand what the other party is saying and form a coherent response. Should you use it to translate an important contract? Probably not. But for everyday back-and-forth communication with colleagues or clients abroad, Google Translate breaks down the language barrier. It’s a free download for iPhone and Android.
Doodle is a priceless—and free—app for scheduling meetings with large groups of people. No more exchanging 26 emails to confirm whether each person can make it. Each invited user simply logs on and marks up a calendar with the times they’re available. Doodle tells you where the schedules overlap, and voila: meeting set.
How do you really spend your time throughout the day? The answer, via RescueTime, might be a little frightening. RescueTime tracks how you spend your time on your computer and mobile devices all day long. It highlights spots where you had a burst of productivity and points out slumps where you’re pretty much wasting time, helping you identify patterns and weaknesses with how you work.
Rescue Time can block distracting websites or alert you when you’re spending an alarming amount of time on Facebook. Get the program for $9/month or $72/year.
This shared list-making platform was originally conceived for families, but it also works wonders for co-workers who collaborate closely on projects and tasks. Essentially, Any.do is a to-do list that’s shared among a group of people. When one person adds to or crosses something off the list, it’s updated on everyone’s device. Simple.
Use it to ensure all the boxes are checked before a big event, make sure you’re fully prepared for a client presentation or most importantly, avoid duplicating efforts with other team members. It’s free to sign up for the basic version. Upgrade to add premium features.
Those few minutes you spend here and there checking your phone throughout the day can really add up. This simple little program lets you send text messages from your computer, so you don’t have to break away from what you’re working on every time your phone dings.
It’s free, but currently only available for Android phones.
Built for team members that travel or make company purchases on the regular, Expensify makes expense reporting a breeze for both employees and bosses. Traveling employees can track their expenses in real time rather than filling out a cumbersome expense report when they return (and perhaps have lost half of their documentation).
Small companies can sign up for $5 per user per month. Prices increase for companies with more sophisticated reporting requirements.
Want clean, professional looking graphs and diagrams to use in your next deck? Create them with Draw.io. The free service is built specifically for drawing flowcharts, process diagrams and wireframes with ease–again, with no design skill required. It’s free and incredibly easy to use from the simple web interface.
What are your go-to time-saving apps?
This post was contributed by Cogniview, LLC. For more great tips on productivity and time-saving tools, visit PDF2XL.com.