2017 Guide: The Best Productivity Apps & Productivity Tools to Use in the Workplace

Productivity hinges on organization, and with an ever-changing influx of distractions, focus is often in short supply. Emails, memos, projects, and deadlines increase by the day, making it difficult to manage multiple responsibilities.

Although there are some who manage to stay productive by using notes, pencils, and sheets of paper, there are plenty of others who need something more advanced, like a personal productivity software. Apps for productivity are viable and effective solutions to a cluttered and overwhelming list of tasks.

Implementing productivity software and productivity tools can increase organizational skills, preparation, timeliness, and ultimately, productivity in the workplace.

Best Productivity Apps

Award Emblem: Top 6 Best Productivity Apps

Although there are many available choices, it can be difficult to pinpoint the best productivity apps. Many come with expensive subscription requirements, and even some of the free productivity apps may not be well-equipped to increase productivity.

Our review will focus on finding the top productivity apps—both subscription-based and free productivity apps—to highlight the best tools to increase success in the workplace.  

Each of these productivity apps have demonstrated success in helping users accomplish more, making them the best productivity apps to consider in 2017.

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AdvisoryHQ’s List of the Top 6 Best Productivity Apps

List is sorted alphabetically (click any of the app names below to go directly to the detailed review section for that app):

Top 6 Best Productivity Apps | Brief Comparison & Ranking

Top Productivity Apps


Free Trial?


Asana$8.33/month per personFree version availableOrganizing group projects & facilitating conversation
Google DriveAdditional space for $1.99–$99.99 per month15 GB of free storage spaceStorage & access from multiple devices for collaboration on documents
Harvest$12/month per person30-day free trialTracking time & analyzing data for payroll & productivity purposes
RescueTime $9 per monthFree version availableProviding daily productivity analyses based on personal habits
Slack$0–$12.50 per monthFree version availableWidespread communication through channels, phone calls, and file-sharing
Wunderlist$0 – $4.99 / month per personFree version availableCreate & share to-do lists
Table: Top 6 Best Productivity Tools | Above list is sorted alphabetically

A Cognitive Approach: Productivity Tools & Individual Styles

The top productivity apps come with a range of different functions and forms. As demand increases, productivity software is becoming even more varied.

Productivity Tools

Image Source: Pexels

This is because productivity is different for each person. Finding the best apps for productivity is hardly ever a “one-size-fits-all” approach. Just as each person focuses on completing tasks in different ways, so do the best productivity tools.

Thus, choosing the right productivity tools may need an individualized approach. Carson Tate, contributor to 99U, suggests that the best productivity apps should align with cognitive styles.

According to Tate, there are four cognitive styles to consider when choosing productivity software:


People who work best with prioritizing are focused on goals and execution. Enhanced efficiency comes with an innate understanding of how long each task will take and individual importance.

Productivity tools for this line of thinking should focus on tracking activities, ordering goals and projects, and deadline reminders.


Those who work best with planning have organized and sequential thought patterns. Increasing productivity needs to come with detailed, step-by-step organization and action plans.

The best productivity apps for planners should include lists, outlines, and ways to track goals throughout the week.


A focus on arranging comes with good teamwork, communication, and supportive skills. Team interaction is a key part of successfully using productivity software.

Thus, top productivity apps for arrangers are productivity tools that support and facilitate collaboration and interaction.


Those with visual styles of thinking tend to thrive under pressure and are often multitasking. Small details can be lost while working toward the bigger picture, making finding the best productivity software crucial.

For visualizers, productivity software should support focus and minute organization, ensuring that small details aren’t left out.

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Detailed Review—Top Ranking Best Productivity Apps

Below, please find a detailed review of each app on our list of top productivity apps. We have highlighted some of the factors that allowed these productivity tools to score so high in our selection ranking.

Asana Review

Brought to life by Dustin Moskowitz, co-founder of Facebook, and Justin Rosenstein, co-inventor of Google Drive, Asana is changing the way that work is coordinated through apps for productivity. 

Productivity Software by Asana

Image Source: Asana

The Basics

Asana combines tasks, conversations, projects, and dashboards into one simple location. Rather than getting lost in countless email threads, this productivity software combines messaging and email, making it one of the best productivity apps for organization.

Part of why Asana is one of the top productivity apps is because it allows for large groups of people to focus on all aspects of a project. Teamwork is encouraged and facilitated through a simple interface for communication and completion of projects.

Key Features

The best productivity tools should have a wide range of features, and Asana does just that. This includes:

  • Tasks: Can be created for yourself or assigned to a teammate
  • Projects: Organized into shared lists or boards for greater visibility
  • Sections & Columns: Allow for customization of workflow and better structure
  • Templates: Projects can be created by using premade templates, saving time
  • Subtasks: Work can be divided and assigned to multiple people
  • Due Dates & Times: Clearly seen due dates keep everyone on track
  • Attachments: Can be added to a conversation or a task

Additional Considerations

For teams that often have multiple projects or need fluid communication and quick updates, Asana is a valuable piece of productivity software. The design is clean, colorful, and puts organization and communication as integral values.

If you need free productivity apps, Asana does offer a basic, free version.

For larger teams that are consistently managing tasks, at $8.33 a month per member, Asana is a best productivity app in terms of affordability too.

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Google Drive Review

If accessing files from any device is important to productivity, Google Drive is one of the best productivity apps to use. With accessibility and affordability in mind, this productivity software can accomplish a range of file-sharing and collaborative editing tasks for the modern workplace.

Google Drive Top Productivity App

Image Source: Google

The Basics

An easy way to look at this personal productivity software is to call it a syncing and cloud-based storage service.

Google Drive is much more than simple storage, however. What makes it into one of the best productivity apps is that it allows for collaboration, editing, storage, and creation of documents across a wide range of platforms.

Key Features

This productivity software comes with a unique range of features, including:

  • Free storage: Google Drive comes with 15MB of free storage for photos, documents, PDFs, spreadsheets, and more
  • Accessible from any device: Files stored in Google Drive can be opened and edited by desktop, mobile, or tablet
  • Easy sharing: Files & folders can be shared with team members and collaborators by inputting their email address
  • Easy collaboration: Individualized settings can allow users to directly edit, comment, or suggest changes
  • Quick scanning: Mobile photos of receipts, letters, and statements can be stored as PDFs
  • App customization: More than 100 productivity apps allow for Google Drive to be customized and enhanced
  • Gmail compatibility: Emails and images shared over Gmail can easily be saved to Google Drive with the click of a button

Additional Considerations

For collaborative document-editing projects, Google Drive is one of the top productivity apps available. Files and folders can easily be accessed by multiple people across multiple devices, making it an attractive piece of productivity software for those who are constantly on the go.

One frustration that users may experience with Google Drive is its inherent push toward compatibility with other Google productivity apps, like Gmail, Google Docs, and Google Sheets.

Being familiar with these productivity tools—and combining their use—can allow users to get maximum benefits from Google Drive.

Harvest Review

For those who need apps for productivity that will keep them focused and motivated to use their time wisely, Harvest is a valuable personal productivity software

Whether you’re tracking time to keep each day as productive as possible or looking to create timesheets and paychecks, Harvest is the best productivity app to use.

apps for productivity from Harvest

Image Source: Harvest

The Basics

This productivity software aims to make time tracking both simple and interactive. Users can keep track of time spent on each project, and Harvest creates real-time reporting to create budget and time estimations for completion.

Key Features

Using Harvest’s productivity tools encompasses much more than time tracking. This productivity software also includes:

  • Invoicing & payments: Invoices can be created online, and payments can be accepted through PayPal
  • Additional apps: More than 70 business apps can help personalize and customize Harvest functions
  • Expense tracking: Free photo storage of business receipts, compatible with Android and iPhone
  • Built-in reporting: Data can quickly be analyzed and put into charts, eliminating the need for spreadsheet recording
  • Timesheet approval: Send alerts and reminders to keep team members up-to-date on timesheet documentation and submission

Additional Considerations

While many apps for productivity and time-tracking focus purely on recording time, Harvest is a much more comprehensive personal productivity software.

With the ability to create timesheets, generate productivity reports, and create invoices, Harvest is one of the best productivity software tools for small businesses to consider. Not only does it record time spent, but it offers valuable payroll functions.

Because Harvest offers a free 30-day trial, it’s also one of the best productivity software tools for newcomers who aren’t yet sure what productivity tools will work best.

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RescueTime Review

Distraction and clutter can severely hinder productivity, and RescueTime actively keeps users as focused as possible. For those interested in viewing a detailed analysis of how each day is spent, RescueTime is one of the best apps for productivity on the market.

Best Productivity App from RescueTime

Image Source: RescueTime

The Basics

The aim of this productivity software is to help users better understand how their time is being spent by highlighting areas that create significant distractions.

RescueTime keeps track of how much time is spent on websites and applications, and uses that data to generate daily reports, demonstrating how efficiently time has been spent.

Key Features

As one of the top productivity apps, RescueTime provides a few key tools to help users learn how to be more productive. These include:

  • Customized alerts: Set alarms to let you know when you’ve spent too much time on a certain task
  • Blocking: Distracting websites can be blocked during the workday
  • Secure running: RescueTime runs securely and quietly in the background
  • Detailed reports & data: End-of-day reports display how much time has been spent on emails, entertainment, news, business, etc.
  • Productivity log: Keeps track of what has been accomplished throughout the day

Additional Considerations

This type of productivity software works best for individuals who struggle with staying focused and on task throughout the day. For freelancers who are constantly on their home devices, RescueTime offers valuable productivity tools at an affordable price.

With detailed reports and data collection, RescueTime is one of the best apps for productivity for honest and efficient evaluations of how time is spent.

Slack Review

When it comes to team messaging, Slack is one of the top-rated productivity tools on the market today. In fact, even nationally recognized companies consider Slack as one of the top productivity apps.

This productivity software seeks to organize, manage, and facilitate conversations between team members in a simple, accessible, and comprehensive format.

Best Apps For Productivity from Slack

Image Source: Slack

The Basics

Slack works by combining email, messaging, and file-sharing services into one piece of productivity software. Rather than constantly switching between multiple productivity tools, Slack makes it possible to use one app for an array of services.

Key Features

Part of what has made Slack into one of the top productivity apps is a keen focus on making team communication simple, quick, and valuable. Some of the best features include:

  • Channels: Individual channels can be made for teams, projects, topics, or anything else that may require communication or instruction
  • Private conversations: While communications on Slack are facilitated with transparency in mind, sensitive conversations can easily be made private
  • Direct messaging: Along with group channels, this productivity software also allows for direct one-on-one messaging
  • Calls: Instead of opening a separate app or sending call invitations, phone calls can be made directly through Slack
  • File-sharing: Files can be shared and searched for within channels
  • Integration: Slack can be integrated with other top productivity apps, so all notifications come through one source

Additional Considerations

For all-inclusive, powerhouse productivity software, it’s hard to compete with Slack. By making separate apps for email, video conferencing, and file-sharing obsolete, Slack has become one of the top productivity apps.

It also comes with one of the most flexible pricing plans, with monthly fees ranging from $0 to $12.50 per user.

For organized, transparent communication across an endless array of projects and topics, Slack is one of the best productivity apps to consider.

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Wunderlist Review

For some, increasing productivity—whether within the workplace or outside of it—is best accomplished through making a to-do list.

Lists can be created and shared through Wunderlist, making it one of the top productivity apps for step-by-step goal accomplishment.

Top Apps For Productivity from Wunderlist

Image Source: Wunderlist

The Basics

Wunderlist allows for comprehensive planning on a variety of different platforms, including mobile, desktop, tablet, and more. Lists can be created, shared, and prioritized through the productivity tools available in Wunderlist.

Key Features

To increase productivity through list-making, Wunderlist offers a few additional features to help users become as productive as possible, including:

  • Organization: Related lists can be grouped into folders for easy access
  • Sharing: Lists can be shared with coworkers, employees, or family members
  • Reminders & due dates: Visible due dates and customized reminders ensure that no piece of the to-do is forgotten
  • Notifications: Alerts can be sent through push messaging, email, or text
  • Easy printing: To-do lists can be printed right from the Wunderlist app
  • Integration: Send emails and online content directly to Wunderlist to enhance your to-do list

Additional Considerations

Wunderlist is one of the best productivity apps for simple and clear organization. Those who perform better with bullet points and to-do lists will benefit greatly from the categories and notifications that Wunderlist provides.

For team collaboration, Wunderlist for Business provides valuable business tools. For individuals who simply want to increase their productivity and organization, a basic account or Wunderlist Pro account can provide more than enough resources to create dynamic, useful lists.

Conclusion—Top 6 Best Productivity Apps

Employers and employees alike are exploring ways to be more productive, and more personal productivity software options are emerging by the day.

When choosing between the best productivity apps, keep in mind that productivity tools differ from one piece of productivity software to the next. Considering personal—or group—habits can provide valuable insight into finding the best productivity app.

Using the top productivity apps can guide users into being more productive, increasing output, and maximizing efficiency when it counts the most.

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