As we discussed in our recent post looking at 10 common remote work challenges, maximising productivity is one of the biggest challenges people face – both inside and outside of the office. Workplace productivity is obviously important to any business but it’s also something that directly impacts the work-life balance of individuals. Achieving productivity can be particularly difficult for remote workers or people working from home. We’ve previously looked at the best apps for working from home and remote teams working from multiple locations. And, in this article, we’re taking a slightly different angle by looking at the best productivity apps for macOS specifically. Whether you’re working in the office, as part of a distributed team or a solo freelancer, these apps will help you maximise productivity and get more done during the working day.
Best productivity apps for macOSBefore we start looking at individual apps, here’s a quick summary of what we’ll be covering in this article. To avoid repetition, I’ve chosen ten apps that all serve a different purpose, rather than ten project management apps, for example, that all basically do the same thing. The idea is that you can use all ten of these apps and they’ll all help you boost productivity by solving different problems. So here’s a quick look at the tool I’ll be talking about in this article:
- Serene: Cut out distractions, stay focused on the task at hand and get things done faster.
- Calendar: Manage all of your calendars and events in one place, arrange meetings without dozens of emails.
- Trello: A simple task management tool that makes projects easier for remote teams to complete.
- Taskade: A project management tool that helps collaborative teams work together on tasks.
- Teamweek: Free project planning for small teams with an affordable option for multiple teams.
- Toggl: Time tasks, get things done faster, track team productivity and make sure you’re charging enough for the time it takes to complete projects.
- Dameware Remote Everywhere: Advanced remote access that allows technicians to access any registered device from any location.
- Slack: Team communication, the way it should be for remote workers.
- Notion: Keep all your docs databases, tasks, and project resources in one place.
- Spark: A distraction-free, collaborative email experience to keep teams focused and help them complete tasks quicker.
#1: SereneFreeSerene is a free app for macOS designed for remote workers and teams. You define a single goal for each day, which can be broken down into multiple tasks, and block out distractions. Numerous studies show that multitasking kills productivity and Serene gives you all the tools you need to stay on track with the task at hand. As the team behind Serene says, “Multi-tasking is a myth. Single-tasking is a superpower.”
- Website blocker: Block websites that distract you, such as social media and news websites.
- App blocker: You can also block apps that take your attention away from work – social apps, your email app and anything else getting in the way.
- Distraction-free sessions: Work in 20-60 minute sessions with regular breaks to maximise productivity.
- Session timer: Shows you how much time you have left to complete tasks, giving you a motivation boost towards the end of each session.
- To-do lists: Manage tasks and make sure everything gets done by the right team member.
- Day planner: Define your goal for the day, set your tasks and get stuff done.
- Focus music: Play background music to help you keep your focus.
- Phone silencer: Automatically put your phone on silent mobile while working to avoid unnecessary distractions.
Free version available, paid versions from $10/moWhile Google Calendar is a great free digital calendar, it doesn’t provide some of the advanced features remote workers typically need. A more feature-rich alternative is the aptly named Calendar, which connects all of your calendars into a single interface.
- One calendar: Calendar integrates with all of your calendars (Google Calendar, Outlook, etc.) to keep everything in one place.
- Synced events: Create events in Calendar or create them in your other calendar apps – they’ll always be synced.
- Easy scheduling: Schedule team meetings without the usual email back and forths.
- Analytics: Calendar provides analytics reports to help you boost productivity.
- Meeting transcriptions: Automatic transcripts of your meetings.
#3: Trello (Windows, Mac, iOS, Android & web)
Free version, Business Class version $9.99/monthper userTrello is a simple, easy-to-use project management app for collaborative teams. The platform is based on the Kanban board philosophy, a visual layout that originates from Japan, which you can see below. Essentially, tasks are added and organised on “to-do,” “going” and “done” satuses, which helps teams keep track of progress. Tasks can be grouped into boards (the entire view above) and cards, which can contain multiple tasks in themselves. Individual tasks can be assigned to groups or team members with deadlines and checklists.
- Project management: Trello is a simple, easy-to-use project management app for collaborative teams.
- To-do lists: Create to-do lists, add due dates, assign them to people and manage tasks as they’re completed.
- Trello boards: Dashboards where you can create and manage lists of cards containing tasks and to-do lists.
- Work with anyone: Invite anyone from around the world to help you make things happen.
- Instant messaging: Talk to team members in real-time to discuss tasks.
#4: TaskadeFree version, paid versions from $7/moTaskade is a project management and collaboration tool for small teams. It takes the to-do list concept turns it into a visual platform for tracking the progress of tasks and projects. While Trello is limited to Kanban board view, Taskade allows you to toggle multiple views in one click so you can see exactly how things are coming along.
- Project management: Project and task management features with multiple views for team members to keep track of progress.
- Live collaboration: Edit projects in real-time and communicate via live chat.
- Team calendar: Keep track of tasks across multiple teams and workspaces.
- Team roadmap: Plan and manage projects by visually assigning tasks and setting deadlines.
#5: TeamweekFree version, Premium version $8/monthper userTeamweek is a relatively simple project management tool that provides a global view of the tasks team members are working on. Essentially, it’s very similar to the team calendar feature in Taskade but it provides more visual information and the drag-and-drop editor makes it easy to rearrange tasks.
- Task management: Break tasks down into smaller sub-tasks, then check each item off the list after it’s complete.
- Projects view: Keep track of projects with an overview of progress.
- Teams view: Keep track of how team members are getting on by viewing individual workflows.
- Timeline sharing: Keep your clients informed by sharing the project roadmap with them.
Premium version $18/monthper userToggl is a time tracking app that runs in the background to track how long you’re spending on tasks. The tool was originally designed to help freelancers keep track of how much time they were really spending on projects to make sure they invoice correctly and hit their profit targets. However, the app has expanded into a tool for collaborative teams over the years. Its data visualisations help you compare profits against time spent on tasks and labour costs so you can see which projects and clients are most profitable.
- Time tracking: See how much time you (or others) are taking to get things done.
- Boost profits: Check you’re charging enough for the time it takes to complete projects.
- Reports: See how productive you’re being and how profitable your time with Toggl reports.
- Cross-platform: Toggl’s wonderfully designed apps work across just about every operating system and online so you can access it wherever you need, whenever you need it.
- Secure remote control: Give technicians access to team members’ devices from anywhere.
- Remote IT support: Provide support to remote workers anywhere and allow remote technicians to do their job from anywhere.
- Mobile remote support: Technicians can provide support using their iOS and Android devices.
- Access sleeping and ‘off’ devices: Gain access to devices remotely, even when they’re sleeping or turned off.
Free version, paid options from £5.25/monthper userSlack is a massaging platform designed for teams and it’s the ideal communication tools for remote workers. Instant messaging is organised into channels, which team members can join and leave, as needed, so nobody receives messages or notifications irrelevant to them. Team members can also chat outside of main topics in separate threads which prevents these messages from interfering with the most project-centric conversations.
- Instant messaging: Live communication between every team member for seamless collaboration.
- Statuses: Users can set availability statuses to focus on individual tasks as needed.
- File sharing: Drag-and-drop file sharing for PDFs, images, videos and other common files types.
- Voice & video calls: Voice and video calls directly from within Slack.
- Screen sharing: Allows team members to show their work to others in real-time for stronger collaboration.
#9: NotionFree version, paid versions from $4/moNotion calls itself your team’s long-term memory and it acts as a kind of collaborative alternative to Evernote. Notion also calls itself “the missing half of Slack” which it integrates with perfectly to create a single location for all the resources important to your team – for example, important documentation, guidelines, etc. Multitude’s aim is to replace a multitude of separate productivity apps with a single platform.
- Notes & Docs: Create and share documents, notes and media files.
- Team Wiki: Create a central knowledge base of essential info and guidelines for all team members.
- Project management: Highly customizable Kanban boards and calendars that adapt to your work.
- Files sharing: Designed for focused writing, easy editing, and rich media
- Live collaboration: Work on tasks together in real-time.
#10: Spark (Mac, iOS, Android)
Free version, $6.39/mo (per user) for PremiumSpark is an intelligent email client that prevents your inbox from being a productivity killer and turns it into an asset. Its Smart Inbox automatically categorises your emails from every account assigned to it, allowing you to filter out the emails that don’t matter and prioritise the ones that do. You can also snooze specific emails for later, assign emails to team members, chat with team members, share drafts, set reminders for follow-ups and schedule emails to send them later.
- Smart inbox: Clean up your inbox, find any email with “Smart Search” and snooze emails that don’t need your attention right now.
- Smart notifications: Only receive notifications for the emails that really matter.
- Assign emails: Assign emails to team members so the right person is always managing tasks.
- Team email: Private team comments, shared drafts, template replies and instant chat for collaborative teams.
- Send emails later: Schedule emails to send them when people are most likely to read them.
- Reminders: Get reminders to follow up on important emails at the right time.