Believe us when we say that work can be “enjoyable”. However, the more appropriate adjectives one can apply to it might be “productive” or “fulfilling”. And yes, “easier” also applies well, too.
So, as our little contribution to the numerous corners of the local internet who are constantly griping about their work—also, little piece of advice, you might do well to hold back from pouring the drama on your social media accounts lest it bites you back two years from now—here are some of the free applications we have been using in the Maven office. For entrepreneurs, these could be helpful in keeping track of everyone’s activities or for keeping track of your meetings; and for employees, this might also be helpful in doing your work more—ahem—productively. And easier. Yes, we just need to emphasize that part again.
Before reading further, please note that all of the apps we have listed here are divided into categories based on the purposes they would serve to you when you’re working on something. In addition, these apps can be downloaded in either their desktop or smartphone versions. And, if you must ask, we also made sure to list apps that can be used on either iOS or Android-powered devices. Yay for inclusivity!
Now, let’s get this thing started:
Your friend for the rest of your professional and entrepreneurial life.
1. Workplace Basics: Google Apps
If you have been following our activities ever since the “Mavericks” days, you might be already familiar with how we occasionally hold workshops (and usually in partnership with Google Business Group – Iloilo) that teach participants how to use Google apps: because, other than the fact that having a single Google account exposes you to a wide range of applications for every purpose you need, it’s also designed well for users whose exposure to computer applications were from Microsoft tools. And unlike using Microsoft apps, you don’t need to pay for a software or license to use Google apps!
So, as long as you’re using a computer or a smartphone connected to the internet, you can have access to any of the following Google applications: there’s Google Docs for writing; Google Sheets for encoding data on a spreadsheet format; and Google Slides for creating presentations. All of them are integrated with Google Drive, a cloud-based storage service for storing not just your Google-created files, but also for any files you’ll be uploading from your device. The neat thing about it is that you can choose to share your files with anyone you want, and even have them collaborate on it.
You get all of that above by simply creating a Gmail account. Convenient, isn’t it? We haven’t even touched on the other useful apps you can use like Calendars (which notifies you when you have an upcoming event through your phone), but we’re sure you get the idea already: if you want to start work on anything, then it’s just as easy as opening up a Gmail account.
Looks sexy but, unfortunately, you need more than that to be organized.
2. Organizing Stuff, Keeping Dates: Google Calendar, Google Keep, and Evernote
While we might have included Google Calendar on the above category, we think it works better if it’s thought of in this way: if you can’t be bothered to grab a pen to block out dates on your fancy organizer, then you can designate your calendar to do all of the reminding for you. Simply create an event, and it will remind you with a notification on when said event’s due on your phone. As people rushing from one appointment to another, we can’t stress how handy this app has been for us.
Of course, meetings also include taking down notes. And since we’re assuming no one under 30 is probably keeping a small notebook with them at all hours of the day, then this is where note-taking apps like Evernote and Google Keep come in. Both applications can attach files and media with every note, transcribe voice recordings via text, and sync with your devices (or, in Keep’s case, with your personal Google account).
Keep and Evernote are both cool tools with cool features, so boiling them down to which one you would want to use might likely fall down on how extensively you take notes. If you just want something that you can add quick lists and to-dos, then Keep keeps (pun very much intended) everything simple. However, if you consider yourself a note-taking freak—and by that, we mean you might be the type of person who’s looking forward to fill pages on the minutes of your meetings—then Evernote might be the one for you.
Considering that the beta version of Evernote was released in 2008—four years before Keep, and now ten years as of this writing—then that would explain why it has more sophisticated features than its closest competitor. But of course, using one or the other is all dependent on your preferences.
Not pictured: workmates arguing
3. Knowing Who to Follow-up: MeisterTask
If you ever want to deliberately mess up the peace in a workplace, the easiest way to do so is to assign a task to an employee or a teammate, never follow-up, and blame him or her when you miss an important deadline.
“Accountability” seems to have taken on a weightier connotation these days, particularly in workplaces where responsibilities shift according to need, and it’s no less challenging to following up on each one’s task in a small organization as compared to a big corporation. Thankfully, we’ve found help in the form of MeisterTask, a work management application that makes tracking each task easier.
MeisterTask works well, in part because of its streamlined interface for both desktop and mobile versions. Mostly though, it’s how it made designating and following-up on tasks easier; anyone can “assign” a team member to a project or task, while other members can be added to “watch” the development of said work. If your organization has a middle-management section, we can attest to the app being a life-saver.
While we’ve dabbled in Trello, a similar task management app, before switching to MeisterTask, we just find that the latter is designed better for collaboration and feedback. The drag-and-drop functions between tasks makes it even easier to monitor the work’s actual progress than having it stay dormant because the app is just too un-wieldy to use.
If you don’t want to get sick of using Messenger for chats, install Slack. Like what this lady above presumably did.
4. Because Communicating on Messenger can be Messy: Slack
Messenger is cool, right? So is WeChat, Twitter, Instagram, and every other social-messaging app we’re using today.
Noticed the operative word on the last paragraph? Well It’s “social”.
In other words, while we can designate specific chat groups on, say, Messenger, they’re tailor-made for casual and breezy interactions. While it’s not a bad thing to use Messenger for work, it can definitely be a waste of time to backread through loads of text in a single chat thread if you ever had the bad luck of missing out on it because you went out for lunch.
Enter Slack. Clever naming aside, this is a messaging service app that really is tailored for teams. And as any good messaging app does, it allows anyone within the team to send and receive both user-to-user and user-to- group thread messages. And speaking of “threads”, you can divide them into channels where you can designate one according to project. As admin, you can also add and remove members.
Yep, it all sounds like it functions like a straightforward messaging app. But, of course, that’s the beauty of it; it forces encourages team members to only chat about the things that matter during work hours. How’s that for eliminating distractions?
Do we even need to explain why this is an essential app? For all the productivity-related apps we have listed here, we’d argue this one might be the most underrated of all because… well, who ever thought that music can help with productivity?
Well, science says it does! Several studies have already said that it’s not just the presence of music that drives us to finish tasks, but it’s the type of music that helps us stay productive. For people who feel like they’re stuck in a rut, it might be because they’re listening to the same type of music all the time at work; a quick run-through of Spotify’s numerous playlists for work and/or productivity (seriously, Spotify has playlists for everything) should give you that much-needed kick in the shin to get work done!
Here’s one fun Maven fact that’s also based on how we use this app: while we’re admittedly introverts who just want to finish stuff up during working hours, we also happen to know a few things about each one’s personality based on whose music was playing on the Bluetooth speaker. To sum, these are just some of the genres the whole office has been exposed to on this year alone: K-pop, #hugot rock, metalcore, 2000s emo, ‘90s ballad, EDM, vaporware, trap, Ex-Battallion, and Jose Mari Chan (Yes, these last two artists are their own genres).
And also, there are a lot of informative podcasts about history, culture, and entrepreneurship that are on Spotify’s library. See, we told you Spotify is a useful app for entrepreneurs!