You can do more with these free productivity tools

You can do more with these free productivity tools

Overworked but can't afford more employees? These free productivity tools will make your small business feel like a big agency.

"Do more with less"; no employee enjoys hearing that phrase, and, aside from a few comedically evil bosses out there, most employers hate having to say it as well. 

Luckily for you, we have compiled a list of free software designed for small businesses to automate and better organize some of their day-to-day activities. Now we aren't trying to encourage you to replace all of your employees with mindless bots. After all, that would make your next team building pot luck kind of awkward.

We do, however, think the software on this list can make your current workforce much more efficient and productive. The less time they have to spend on the repetitive and monotonous parts of their jobs, the more time they'll have to devote to the stuff that you actually hired them to do.

Your new project manager: Trello

We started using the free version of Trello in our office a few years ago when we found ourselves trying to find a way to organize several projects that incorporated multiple people in multiple departments. Since then it has become a mainstay of our company.

A good way of explaining how Trello works is to think of it as a virtual white board you can use for organizing projects. To be more accurate, Trello is like a room full of white boards where you get to decide which of your coworkers can see and write on which board.

If we wanted to be really, really, accurate we could say that Trello is like a cloud based virtual room full of white boards where you control individual access to private and public boards through an easy to use interface in which each board has cards that act like virtual magic sticky notes where you can attach files, assign tasks and due dates, and then move the cards between vertical columns that help organize the stages or your project.

That might sound a little complicated, but honestly, Trello is a very intuitive platform​​ ​​that makes tracking, planning, and collaboration of a project extremely simple.It only takes a few minutes to set up and can have a dramatic improvement on the ability for teams to stay organized.

Your new email marketer: MailChimp

As with most software on this list, MailChimp has a paid version with lots of extra bells and whistles, but offers a free version that has a surprising number of features.

With their "Forever Free" plan you can have up to 2,000 contacts in your account and send up to 12,000 emails a month. You don't need to know how to code in order to send stylish and professional looking emails since MailChimp gives you access to many free email templates.

​MailChimp's free version even allows you to do some advanced reporting and automation like A/B testing where the system sends out two different emails to two small groups and the email that performs best will be sent to the remaining distribution list.

Your new scheduling assistant: Setmore

There are several scheduling assistant software solutions that have popped up over the past several years, each with their own unique approach and set of features. Setmore is one of best sites to offer a free version for businesses who simply need a portal where their customers can go to schedule their appointments.

In the free version you have a lot of flexibility in setting up your staffs' calendars and the appointment types you offer to your customers. You can control the hours that each staff member is available for appointments, including programming in vacations and holidays. The appointment types can be customized so that each one has a unique set of requirements and time frames. Reminder emails and reporting is also part of the free package.

While setting up your Setmore is usually pretty easy and straightforward, things can get confusing if you have a complicated structure you would like set up. There is a built-in chat feature where Setmore's support staff members can assist you with the more complicated stuff.

Your new data quality specialist: Talend Data Preparation

Here is a scenario: Every month you receive a spreadsheet from a vendor and you have to spend a lot of time reformatting the data so that you can import it into your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. Talend Data Preparation is here to help. It is also here to help if you have a scenario that is different, but still involves editing spreadsheets repeatedly.

In 2018 Talend was named a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Data Integration Tools for the 3rd year in a row. We don't know what that means, but it sounds really prestigious.

While Talend Data Preparation isn't web-based, and the learning curve for this software is a little more steep than with the other tools listed on this page, for those who spend a lot of time in excel each week , the automation provided by Talend Data Preparation can shave hours of work off your plate.

Your new senior director of workplace environmental acoustic contentment: Noisli

​Most companies don't have an employee dedicated to ensuring their office has relaxing background noises to block out all the annoying clicks, beeps, rings, and co-workers who are a bit too loud, but that's exactly what Noisli will do for you.

"Mix different sounds and create your perfect environment". It's a simple concept, and Noisli executes it very well. You can select a combination of 16 different sound effects like a babbling brook, rustling leaves, or a crackling camp fire. You could even choose the sound of a train going over train tracks in a thunderstorm, if for some reason you find that improves your ability to focus.

You can control the volume of each effect like if you are the type of person who wants a little bit of indistinct coffee shop noises but a lot of seaside ocean noises.

​If you have any other examples of time-saving software, or have interesting stories from using any of these programs, please share your experiences in the comments section.

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Friday, 01 July 2022