Staying productive is crucial when you’re trying to manage a growing business.
You’re constantly pulled in a thousand different directions as a business owner and leader. Between answering customer service emails, updating your store, and promoting your products, it’s hard to know where to focus to make sure you’re spending your time on tasks that move the needle.
Motivational quotes might be a nice top up to inspire action and get you through your day, but they’re not an efficient way to help you get things done in the long term.
On the other hand, the best productivity apps ensure you spend your time on the right tasks, get things you don’t need to be doing off your plate, and automate chores that aren’t worth anyone’s time.
To help you get started, we’ve put together this list of the 24 best free productivity apps.
- Best task manager: Asana
- Best calendar app: Google Calendar
- Best note-taking app: Evernote
- Best time management app: RescueTime
24 best free productivity apps
A great place to start when trying to boost productivity company wide is with your own time. After all, if you’re not managing your time wisely, you’re likely to be a blocker for other members of your team.
Use these 24 productivity-boosting apps for entrepreneurs to minimize distractions, manage your time wisely, and make sure you’re always working on your most important to-dos.
Best free productivity app for time management
RescueTime is a time-management app that will track and calculate how much time you’re spending on different types of tasks.
For example, maybe you feel like you only look at social media for a few minutes a day. RescueTime can show you exactly how much time you spend scrolling through your feeds. The results may surprise you and show you that you need to minimize that distraction.
Or maybe you feel that cutting and pasting data from one app to another doesn’t require as much effort as you’re giving it and that it’s worth automating. RescueTime can show you how much time you’d save with an automation tool like Zapier.
If you feel like you’re working long hours but not getting enough done, RescueTime can help you see and understand where you’re spending too much time on tasks that don’t have enough impact. This lets you find opportunities to delegate those tasks and automate them, or avoid certain distractions.
- Blocks unauthorized websites and records computer activity
- Monitors time spent and tracks trends
- Stopwatch tool
- Goals reporting
- Daily highlights
- Productivity scoring
Cost: Free plan available. Paid plans start at $6.50 per month.
Available for: Web browser, macOS, Windows, Android.
⭐️ G2 rating: 4.1/5
Best free productivity app for blocking distractions
If you find that you’re wasting too much time on social media, news websites, or other online distractions, you can use StayFocusd—a Chrome extension—to completely block your access to those sites.
StayFocusd works by letting you specify how much time you’re willing to spend on specific types of websites. So if you want to limit your Twitter scrolling to 10 minutes a day, you can set that up in StayFocusd. When your 10 minutes are up, StayFocusd will block your access to Twitter for however long you tell it to.
StayFocusd also has a nuclear option that lets you block access to all websites—or to all but the websites you need to use (e.g., Google Docs)—when you must stay focused on a specific task. It’s a great tool for when you need to minimize distractions but are struggling with the willpower you need to do so on your own.
Available for: Chrome
3. Boomerang for Gmail and Outlook
Best free productivity tool for eliminating email distractions
If you discover that email is one of your biggest sources of distraction, Boomerang for Gmail and Outlook can help. Use its Inbox Pause feature to prevent any new emails from arriving in your inbox during times when you need to focus. When you’re ready, unpause your inbox to let your email come in.
What’s great about Boomerang over just closing your inbox is that you can create delivery exceptions. Say you need to focus but are also waiting on an important email from your business partner or an investor. You can add those email addresses as exceptions so they’ll bypass your blocker and arrive in your account.
You can also send an auto response to anyone who emails you while your inbox is paused to let them know there will be a delay before you receive the message. This can be helpful for providing alternative contact information people can use if they need to get in touch with you urgently.
- Inbox Pause
- Meeting scheduling
- Auto responding
- Send later
- Response tracking
- Read receipts
Cost: Free. Paid plans start at $4.98 per month.
Available for: Web browser, iOS, Android, Windows phones.
Best free task management app
If you need an app to keep track of all of your to-dos, Todoist is a great option. You can use its free plan to create up to 80 projects, making it easy to segregate your outstanding tasks into as many different lists as you need.
For example, you could create separate lists for work to dos and home to dos and manage both lists from the same application. Or you can get even more granular, creating lists for work, home, errands, email, specific projects, long-term goals, and anything else you need to categorize into a distinct group.
The benefit of Todoist is its simplicity. Add a quick line describing what you need to do, then check it off when it’s complete. It’s basically a replica of a handwritten to-do list—but one that works wherever you are and on any device you happen to be using at the moment a to-do pops into your head.
- Productivity visualization
- Project templates
- Real-time data synchronization
- Centralized team billing
- Notifications and reminders
Cost: Free. Paid plans start at $4 per month, billed annually.
Available for: Web browser, macOS app, Windows app, Android, iOS, Apple Watch.
Best free productivity app for the Pomodoro Technique
KanbanFlow gives you all of the benefits of a Kanban board with the tools you need to complete your tasks using the Pomodoro Technique.
Start by setting up your lanes and adding your tasks. When you’re ready to get going on one of them, you can click a couple of buttons to start a 25-minute Pomodoro. KanbanFlow notifies you when it’s time to take a break and even lets you log that Pomodoro to a timesheet if needed.
Another unique feature of KanbanFlow is that when you pause a timer before it’s complete, it asks you why you paused it. This can be helpful for finding out what is distracting you most often when you’re trying to focus, so you can brainstorm ways to minimize your most distracting distractions.
- Add tasks from email
- Mobile support
- Real-time collaboration
- Revision history
- Time tracking with Pomodoro
- Work and progress visualization
Cost: Free. Paid plan is $5 per user, per month
Available for: Web browser, Android, Windows Phone, iPhone.
Best free productivity app for note taking
Every piece of software you use has its own method of saving information. Files on your computer are saved to your hard drive. Google Docs are saved to Google Drive. You bookmark webpages you want to save in your browser and file away emails you might need to reference again in your email app’s folders.
The problem with this approach? It’s hard to know where to look when you need to find something you remember saving. Evernote solves this problem by giving you a central source for all of the notes and documents you need to save.
Evernote lets you take notes via text or voice on any device and save them to your account. But you can also integrate it with Google Drive, Gmail, and Outlook to save documents and emails you might need to reference later, or use its web clipper to save full copies of webpages to your Evernote account.
Then, when you need to look for something you know you have, you don’t have to guess where you saved it. You can just search your Evernote account.
- Idea sharing
- Annotation and markup
- Notes synch
- Document storage
- Share and store notes
- Webpage grab
Cost: Free. Paid plans start at $7.99 per user, per month
Available for: Web browser, Android, iPhone.
Best free password management app
Using the same password across every site you visit is a bad idea for anyone, but it’s particularly problematic for business owners who need to make sure hackers can’t get into their business documents, websites, banks, and accounting programs.
But coming up with and remembering unique passwords is a task in and of itself. That’s where LastPass comes in. With LastPass, you can generate long, strong, unique passwords for every site you need to log in to. It saves those passwords in your LastPass account so you never need to remember a login or reset your password.
LastPass’ free version lets you save login details for up to 20 accounts, so you can use it to secure your logins for your most important tools. Or you can upgrade for only $3 per month to create and save secure logins for everything.
- Two-factor authentication
- Fingerprint login
- Secure notes
- Save and fill passwords
- Encrypted file sharing
- Family manager dashboard
Cost: Free. Paid plan is $3 per user, per month, billed annually.
Available for: Web browser, Android, iPhone, iPad.
Best free productivity app for automating your tasks
Zapier is an app connector that makes it easy to move data from one app to another with no coding expertise. It connects with more than 5,000 apps to help you automate your workflows.
For example, Zapier’s Shopify Zaps will automatically add new orders to a spreadsheet, add new customers to your email marketing tool, create tasks in your project management tool for new orders, and post new products on social media. This ensures these tasks are completed but requires no work on your part.
Any rote tasks on your plate that consist of copying and pasting data from one system to another can likely be automated with Zapier. Setting up these automations takes only a few minutes and will give you back some of your time to focus on more important to-dos.
- Import/export with Google Sheets
- Create tasks and see task history
- Create Zaps
- Connect multiple accounts
- Integrate with 5,000+ apps
- Automate customized processes
Cost: Free. Paid plans start at $19.99 per user, per month, billed annually.
Available for: Web browser.
Best free productivity tool for minimizing apps
Need to quickly convert currencies, find out what time it is in a country that’s an ocean away, or perform complex math calculations? You don’t need separate apps for any of these tasks, you just need Google.
Google has tons of features that appear above its organic search results and help you quickly perform tasks you’d otherwise need a separate app for:
- Type a calculation into the search bar to get the answer as a result.
- Find out what time it is in Australia or see the time difference between Australia and New York.
- Convert US dollars to euros or yen.
- Find the cheapest hotel in a city you’re traveling to.
- Set a timer for Pomodoro or a stopwatch for tracking time spent on a task.
These search tools limit the number of apps you need to have open on your screen and the number of times you log in to and out of different programs throughout the day.
- Use voice typing to speed up searches
- Make conversions directly in the search bar
- Search topics or specific websites
- Use the calculator for quick math
- Shop products from multiple stores at once
- Search for specific file types
Available for: Web browser, Android, iPhone.
10. Hemingway Editor
Best free productivity app for clear, error-free writing
Writing is time consuming enough without worrying about whether or not you have spelling and grammar errors—or if what you’re writing will be simple enough for others to understand.
Hemingway Editor relieves you of those worries by pointing out spelling and grammar mistakes, showing you which of your sentences are too hard to read, and pointing out words and phrases with simpler alternatives.
You can either write directly in Hemingway Editor or, if you don’t want to be bothered with its recommendations while you write, paste your text into the tool to clean things up when you’re finished writing. It’s a good way to capture your thoughts without the distraction of trying to get things perfect simultaneously.
- Color-coded writing problems
- No internet connection required
- See your readability grade
- Directly publish to WordPress and Medium
- Import from and export to Microsoft Word
- Easily see difficult phrases and common grammar mistakes
Cost: Free. Paid plan is a one-time fee of $20.
Available for: Web browser, desktop app for Windows or MacOS.
Best free productivity app for assembly-line workflows
If you’re managing projects that need to move from one person or team to another before they’re complete, Trello is the ideal project management productivity app.
With a Trello board, you can create different lanes for each step in your process, move tasks from lane to lane as each one is completed, assign tasks to the people who need to complete them, and see the progress of each outstanding task at a glance.
Trello is ideal for workflows like content marketing, where you have writers, editors, and graphic designers involved, or like hiring and recruiting, where HR and hiring managers both need to complete specific tasks during different parts of the process.
- Assign tasks
- View activity history
- Drag-and-drop interface
- Organize tasks with labels, tags, and categories
- Upload attachments and files to tasks
- Access boards via mobile
Cost: Free. Paid plans start at $5 per user, per month, billed annually.
Available for: Web browser, Android, iPhone, Windows, MacOS.
Best free productivity app for small teams
While Trello is great for assembly-line workflows, Asana’s free plan gives you a little more flexibility in how your team chooses to work.
Asana’s board view works exactly like Trello’s, letting your team manage tasks and projects on a Kanban board. But if that view isn’t right for your team, you can also view tasks on a more traditional to-do list or even on a calendar.
Another advantage of Asana is that you can manage multiple projects from a central view. In Trello, you need individual boards for each of your workflows, but Asana lets you assign tasks from any project to anyone in your organization from a central dashboard.
The downside of Asana is that its free plan only accommodates 15 team members, so if you have a larger team of people who need to collaborate, you’ll need to upgrade. With Trello’s free plan, there is no limit to the number of people you can add to your boards.
- Customizable dashboard
- Tags and comments
- Custom calendar
- Assign subtasks
- Email integration
- Notifications and reminders
Cost: Free. Paid plans start at $10 per user, per month, billed annually.
Available for: Web browser, iPhone, Android.
Best free productivity app for real-time communication
Slack is a chat app that lets teams communicate with each other in real time. Individual team members can send instant messages to each other to chat when the asynchronicity of email just isn’t fast enough, and entire teams can create their own discussion channels for full-team collaboration.
But where Slack really shines when it comes to productivity is with its massive library of apps. You can connect Slack to just about any other app you use, to do things like create support tickets from Slack discussions, save attachments directly to Dropbox or Google Drive, or add to-dos received in Slack to your to-do list.
There are also Slack apps that help you automate the process of getting information from your coworkers. You can add an app that automatically collects updates for a daily standup, takes food orders for a catered lunch, or sends weekly employee engagement polls.
Some of these apps are free and some are paid, but the large library of Slack apps gives you plenty of options to choose from.
- Conversation channels
- File sharing
- Private messaging groups
- Two-factor authentication
Cost: Free. Paid plans start at $7.25 per user, per month, billed annually.
Available for: Web browser, iPhone, Android.
14. Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides
Best free productivity apps for real-time collaboration
Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides make it easy to collaborate with others to build text documents, spreadsheets, and slideshows. Contributors can work together on these assets in real time, seeing where others are currently making changes so no one overrides what someone else is doing.
You can also control what others can do to the assets you create, giving them permission to view, comment on, or make edits to your assets. Use suggest mode to offer changes for the document’s owner to accept or decline, or leave comments when there are questions or further explanation is needed.
The best thing about this suite of tools is that all historical versions of the assets you create are saved and accessible. So if someone makes changes you don’t like or you need to return to a previous version, you can not only see all of the previous versions, but you can also revert back to them in just a few clicks.
- Collaborate on data from anywhere
- Seamlessly connect to other Google apps
- Collaborate on presentations
- Assign action items
- Edit and comment on web-based documents
- Compatible with a variety of file formats
Cost: Free. Users can buy additional storage once they reach the 15 gigabyte limit.
Available for: Web browser, iPhone, Android, Google.
15. Google Drive
Best free productivity app for sharing files and folders
While a lot of businesses use Dropbox, Google Drive is a better deal if you’re looking for a free file-sharing and storage tool. Dropbox Basic’s free plan gives you only 2 gigabytes of storage, but you get 15 gigabytes with Google Drive (though that space is shared with your Gmail account, if you have one).
Google Drive works more naturally if you also use Google tools like Docs, Sheets, and Slides. The files you create with these tools are automatically saved to Google Drive. You can create shared folders in Google Drive and automatically give anyone with access to the folder the same access to files within that folder.
Google Drive’s Backup and Sync tool also makes it easy to automatically back up any files you save on your computer to your Google Drive and to access those files without having to open your Google Drive web app. It’s another way to get everything you need in a central location so you don’t have to guess where files are saved.
- 15 GB free storage
- G Suite integration
- SSL encryption
- Intuitive Google search
- AI-equipped automation and insights
- Access files offline
Cost: Free for personal use. Paid plans start at $6 per user, per month.
Available for: Web browser, iPhone, Android, Google.
Best free productivity app for team knowledge management
One of the best ways to keep your team productive is to make sure everyone has easy access to the information they need to do their work. That’s a difficult feat when every team uses a different system to document and store their knowledge.
Notion fixes that by making it easy for teams to build internal knowledge bases that anyone in the business can search and access. Create different workspaces for different groups, like HR, marketing, sales, and customer service, then search them all at once to quickly find knowledge documented by any team.
With Notion’s free plan, you can add unlimited team members and create up to 1,000 blocks of storage, which is perfect for growing companies that want to collect company knowledge early on but don’t have big budgets.
- Build workflows
- See notes history
- Create templates
- Connect teams
- Access documents
- Drag-and-drop dashboard
Cost: Free. Paid plans start at $4 per user, per month, billed annually.
Available for: Web browser, Mac, Windows, iOS, Android.
17. Wave Accounting
Best free productivity app for simple business accounting
Wave is a free, feature-rich business accounting tool that lets business owners and their finance teams work together to keep track of sales, invoices, expenses, and profits.
With Wave’s free plan, you get unlimited bank account transactions, invoicing, and receipt scanning, making it easy to collect and consolidate all of your business expenses and revenue. Add your employees’ business credit cards to capture their expenses, and have them submit pictures of receipts using Wave’s mobile app.
You can also accept payments through Wave (though transaction fees apply) and automatically convert payments in foreign currencies. Finally, add your accountants and bookkeepers to your system so you’re all working with the same data, and set permissions to make sure everyone sees only what you want them to see.
- Direct deposit
- Tax calculations and deductions
- Yearly record keeping
Cost: Free. Paid plans start at $20.
Available for: Web browser, iPhone, Android.
Best free productivity app for sharing screenshots
Screenshots are helpful for communicating clearly both internally and externally, but sharing screenshots can be burdensome. CloudApp makes it easy to capture and share screenshots and short videos and share them with anyone you need to via a web link. It helps business owners provide clear, visual instructions to their employees—and for employees to provide the same to customers.
To use CloudApp for free in your business, each employee who needs it will have to create their own free account. While this won’t keep all of your business’s screenshots in the same place, you can easily share them amongst each other via links that can be password protected if they display secure information.
- Team management
- Enterprise security
- Secure sharing
- Video workflows
Cost: Free. Individual plans start at $9.95.
Available for: Desktop app or Chrome browser extension; Mac, Windows, Chrome, iOS.
Best for tracking time on specific tasks
Toggl helps you work more efficiently by tracking how much time you spend on tasks. It has a simple, clean interface that makes it easy to use, and it’s packed with features that make it a powerful productivity tool.
- One-click start and stop of timers
- Pomodoro timer to keep you focused
- Reports that show how much time you've spent on tasks
- Tags allow you to track tasks more easily
- Calendar view that shows upcoming deadlines
- Syncs with popular business tools like Asana, Trello, and Google Calendar
Cost: Free. Paid plans start at $9 per user, per month.
Available for: Web app, browser plug-in (Chrome, Firefox), Desktop app (Windows, Mac), Mobile apps (Android, iOS).
Best app for putting your phone away
Forest is a fun app that helps you stay focused and be more productive by planting trees. The goal is to help you stay phone-free and avoid distractions. That way, you can focus on work, study, rest, friends, entertainment, or whatever else life throws at you.
When you start a timer, the app plants a virtual tree, and if you stay focused for the timer’s duration, the tree grows. The tree dies if you stop the timer or switch to another task before the timer expires. You earn rewards when you reach four hours of focus time, and can turn your coins into real life trees.
Forest team partners with tree planting organization, Trees for the Future, to plant real trees. When you spend virtual tokens in Forest on planting real trees, the Forest team donates and creates planting orders. At time of writing, Forest has planted 1,468,511 trees around the world.
- “Forest” feature helps visualize progress and see the trees you’ve planted
- Tags help you see which activities you spend the most time doing without your phone
- Reminders remind you to unplug and focus
- A desktop version and a mobile version for use anywhere
- Integration with other productivity apps like Clockify
- Contribute to growing trees in real life
Cost: $3.99 (one-time fee).
Available for: iOS, Android.
Best free time tracking software
Clockify is a free time-tracking app you can start using in just a few clicks. There are no complicated timers or software. It also comes with a mobile app, so you can track time wherever you are.
Clockify’s most renowned feature is its reporting tools. You can access detailed reports showing how much time you spend on a project or task. Export these reports in seconds and share them with your team or with clients.
- Simple stopwatch time tracker
- Ability to enter and edit hours manually.
- A timesheet that logs your weekly activities
- Mark billable hours
- Calendar view lets you visualize your time and block out activities
- Integrates with Trello, Asana, JIRA, and QuickBooks
Cost: Free. Paid plans start at $3.99 per user, per month, billed annually.
Available for: Desktop and mobile app; Chrome, Firefox, Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android.
Best music app for focusing on any task
Brain.fm allows you to reach flow state more quickly and with one tap. The app can improve your focus, relax, sleep, or meditate with functional music. Its science-backed music steers you to whatever mental state you desire.
To get into a deep work mindset, you can play music designed to meet demanding tasks requiring sustained periods of intense concentration. With Brain.fm, you can customize your activity levels, the type of music you want to hear, and your level of sensitivity.
- Science-backed music for productivity
- Human-composed music
- Patented neuromodulation
- Supports focus on any task
- Science testing before and after
- Supported by the National Science Foundation
Cost: Free trial. Paid plans start at $6.99 per month.
Available for: Web browser, iPhone, Android
Best team chat app
Vowel is a video-conferencing tool that turns your meetings into searchable, shareable knowledge. Think of Vowel as a Zoom alternative that helps your team stay productive and works right in your browser.
Vowel reinforces good meeting habits, with agendas and meeting notes all in one place, so you can have more productive audio and video calls with teammates, vendors, or work friends.
- One-click live transcription and recording (even on a free plan)
- Interactive video meetings
- Collaborative agendas that turn into your shared meeting notes
- Talk-time tracking to encourage more inclusive meetings
- Meeting recaps with shared links and action items to get everyone on the same page for next steps
- Clips that let you share key pieces of meeting knowledge (customer feedback, bug reports)
Cost: Free. Paid plans start at $8.49 per user, per month, billed annually.
Available for: Web browser.
Best app for group brainstorming
Mural is an easy to use and intuitive collaborative platform for brainstorming and mind-mapping. You create virtual whiteboards and canvasses where teams can draw, add notes, attach files, and interact in real time.
Mural offers over 200 templates across categories like Brainstorm and Agile to plan projects. Templates are designed for teams to engage with each other for brainstorming, idea generation, and problem-solving.
- Infinite and resizable canvas options to meet your collaboration goals
- Quick and easy visualizations of flow, maps, journeys, and processes
- Save time across your organization by publishing easy-to-use templates for everyone
- Ability to connect team members through comments, text chat, or quick talk
- Create colorful sticky notes and organize them to see patterns and solutions
- Integrates with other productivity tools like Airtable, Asana, OneDrive, and Google Drive
Cost: Free. Paid plans start at $9.99 per user, per month, billed annually.
Available for: iOS, Android, MacOS, Windows 10.
Choosing the right productivity apps for yourself and your business
While having the right productivity apps can help you stay focused on tasks that move the needle, having too many apps can become its own drain on productivity.
So before you start downloading apps and sending them to your teams, take some time to determine your biggest hurdles to becoming more productive.
- Are distractions your biggest barrier to productivity? If so, tools like RescueTime, StayFocusd, Boomerang, and KanbanFlow could help.
- Is your business’s overall productivity suffering because people aren’t sure what their priorities are or because they can’t find what they need to move forward? If so, get your teams set up with apps like Trello, Asana, Google Drive, or Notion.
- Are you struggling to collaborate efficiently? Tools like Slack, Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, Google Drive, and Wave Accounting may provide the perfect solution.
- Are you struggling to communicate clearly? Try Hemingway Editor and CloudApp. Or if you’re struggling to remember too much information, rely on tools like Evernote, Todoist, or LastPass.
Determine the root cause of your imperfect productivity and you’ll have taken the first step toward increased productivity in 2023.
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Productivity apps FAQ
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- Time management apps
- Note taking apps
- Task manager apps
- To-do list apps