Twenty-four hours per day, seven days per week, 52 weeks per year… no matter how you slice it, most product managers simply don’t have enough time to attend to everything on their to-do list while maintaining a healthy work-life basis.
But, relying on the right set of productivity tools can help ease the pain and maximize workday efficiency, which might just lead to some work-free evenings and weekends. From time management to automation, there are many helpful solutions out there that can help product managers make the most of their time and enjoy life to its fullest.
25 Productivity Tools for Product Managers
We’ve compiled a list of our favorite productivity tools to help you get your job done quicker and better than before. Check out your options and load a few new items into your toolbox before the rat race.
Staying in touch with colleagues has always been important. With so many people working remotely or in different locations, the need for viable digital communication solutions has never been greater. Luckily there are plenty of options to stay in communication that doesn’t require getting up from your desk or making a phone call.
Chat and instant messaging have been around for decades, but Slack has seized the crown as the king of asynchronous communication. With desktop and mobile apps, typing out a quick message, or sharing a file with colleagues has never been easier. Best of all, regardless of whether they’re staring at their screen or walking the dog, you know they’ll get your message eventually. Group Slack sessions are a breeze, and channels can be created to keep everyone up to date on anything from server reboots to office gossip.
Chanty is another team chat option with desktop and mobile apps. It places a greater emphasis on ongoing conversations on particular topics, although one-to-one chats are also available. There’s also the option to switch to audio or video chats. What distinguishes Chanty from other asynchronous group chat solutions is support for task assignments from the chat UI.
There’s no escaping the litany of jobs to be done. Increasing the degree of difficulty for product managers is that the high volume of tasks and projects is also wide and varied as we doff one hat only to don another. These productivity tools try and keep things organized to make sure the most urgent things are addressed first, and nothing falls through the cracks.
The Kanban board king makes it a snap to keep tasks organized based on their category or status. It’s also a breeze to pass the baton to others on the same Trello board when the project is ready for the next phase.
ProofHub: ProofHub is a one-stop-shop for project planning and collaboration. Keep projects organized on Kanban boards and Gantt charts, assign tasks, manage resources, track timesheets, and document it all on this platform.
We all gotta do what we gotta do. With Todoist, our gotta do items stay organized and sorted according to their due dates, as not all to-do list items are created equal. Track your progress, hand off tasks to others, and manage recurring items from the palm of your hand (or on your desktop.
The Power of Consolidation
How many browser tabs can you have open at one time? How diligently are you checking in on each app, site, tool, and the solution you rely on? Save time and don’t miss out on anything with one of these helpful desktop aggregators of all things digital.
Streamline your workflow and aggregate all your email and social accounts in one spot with Shift. Never miss a message, an appointment, or a task while staying focused on the stuff you care about.
We all rely on an array of web-based productivity solutions to get things done. Station keeps them organized and grouped on its smart dock to eliminate all the searching, log-ins, and time-wasting. From GitHub to Zoom to Dropbox, there are 670+ apps to choose from.
Since it’s not a good idea to use the same password for every web site and app login, keeping track of all your credentials might seem like it’s its part-time job. Thankfully there are some handy solutions to keeping all those credentials organized securely.
Stumped trying to remember the random set of characters you used the last time you signed into Twitter? If you use the LastPass desktop or mobile apps, you can quickly look up those login details. And if you’re fresh out of dreaming up a new password, Lastpass’s algorithms will automatically dream one up for you and store it for the next time you forget it.
Dashlane not only remembers your passwords for you if you’re using a device that has the app installed, but it will also automatically autocomplete them for you. It will also store your payment information, so no more reaching for your wallet when you want to make that impulse online shopping purchase.
Product managers have a lot to remember. All those meetings and their action items, customer interviews, competitive research, and anecdotes for dinner parties all need to be stored somewhere. We can’t rely on our mental filing system to provide perfect instant recall, so we’re still jotting these things down and saving them for later. But Moleskine notebooks and lab journals can’t hold a candle to some of the great digital solutions available.
Evernote made its bones letting folks highlight and annotate web content and save it for later. Think bookmarks on steroids. But over its long run of success, it’s added plenty of other useful features. Notes sync across devices, so you’re never without them. Plus, it will even search through handwritten notes if you do spend some time jotting things down in the analog world. Upgrade, and you can create team spaces for collaboration.
Microsoft’s OneNote comes with many versions of Microsoft Office, so if that’s where you’re spending the bulk of your “productivity” time, you might as well store your notes there. Tag and sort your jottings, scribble with a stylus, share with your fellow Office365ers, and drop in some audio or video notes while you’re at it.
Taming your inbox is an unrelenting challenge, but keeping things neat and organized can be a major win for your mental health while boosting your productivity. Here’s a couple of productivity tools for whipping your email nightmare into shape.
We offer up our email address all the time. Whether it’s getting access to a coupon or free trial, making a random e-commerce purchase, or signing up for a newsletter we never actually read, each time we hit the submit button, it seems harmless, but all that time spent swiping left and mashing the delete button adds up. Before you know it, you’re spending an hour a day eliminating unnecessary emails. With UnrollMe, one click on the desktop or mobile app can free you of an unwanted email subscription. See which lists your on and manage your inbox for maximum efficiency.
There’s nothing as distracting as the “ding” or pop-up announcing the arrival of yet another email. With Boomerang, you can pause your inbox and minimize those interruptions. Other features include scheduling when outgoing emails are sent, optimized email text for the best response rates, and meeting schedule.
Hey! Over here! Stop looking at your Twitter feed and get back to work! If that inner voice shouting at you sounds familiar, maybe you could use one of these proven solutions for keeping your attention on the job at hand and not the latest celebrity gossip, meme, or hamster video that keeps pulling you out of the zone.
Pop-ups, notifications, dings, and buzzes all take their toll on our productivity. Each time we must reset our attention just because there’s another pizza coupon in our inbox or Facebook friend live streaming their sourdough starter. But when you want to get things done and dismiss all distractions, Freedom can silence it all so you can stay locked in. Decide what you want to block out, set your schedule, and get to work!
15. Focus Booster
Powering through has never been easier when you commit to completion with Focus Booster. This digital Pomodoro solution tracks your time based on your goals and makes those short bursts of productivity pay off.
What if staying focused helped the planet, even if you’re focusing on grooming your backlog? Forest keeps you rooted in getting your work done, with an unexpected payoff of an actual tree getting planted. Just get to work and keep at it while watching your virtual tree mature using this mobile app and Chrome extension. Stay on task, and you can populate a forest of your own, or get distracted and watch it wither away.
The Power of Automation
Repetitive tasks are, well, repetitive. But these necessary but boring and time-consuming to-dos are just a part of life. Yet it doesn’t have to be that way when you utilize some of the available services for automating the routine so you can focus on the extraordinary.
Product managers know all about breaking down organizational silos, but what about getting all your apps to play nice together? Zapier has mastered the art of cross-app communication and lets you set up automated workflows that seem unthinkable. With two-thousand apps all working together behind the scenes, users can define the triggers and subsequent behaviors to make magic happen on the regular.
18. Microsoft Flow
Business process automation without coding? Microsoft Flow lets anyone build out workflows in a visual editor to eliminate repetitive tasks and makes sure things happen every time. From automatically posting messages to Microsoft Teams to sending push alerts when an important email is received, Flow lets those working in the Microsoft ecosystem streamline their workday.
Another entry in the automation space is Integromat. It lets you create the rules and then runs in the background, automating actions that would otherwise require tedious busy work and constant reminders to keep things flowing. Sending emails and Slack messages when actions are completed, updating spreadsheets automatically when forms are completed, and posting blog updates on social media are just some of the many tasks that you can set and forget.
Life isn’t a game… unless you turn it into one! Gamification can turn drudgery into a satisfying reward. While this might not be an Animal Crossing-level obsession, it can definitely motivate you to do a little more every day.
There’s no shortage of things on your to-do list. But what if every time you got one done, the satisfaction was more rewarding than just crossing something off? EpicWin’s iOS and Android apps turn getting stuff done into fuel for an RPG adventure. Each completed task gets you closer to defeating your enemies and loading up on loot.
Level up while getting stuff done when you use this iOS and Android app to manage your tasks. The more you accomplish, the more chances you’ll have to upgrade your avatar and take on some more monsters.
Save it for Later
We’re all busy… until we’re not. That’s where apps that let you file away interesting reads for another time come in handy. Instead of hoping you’ll remember to peruse that lengthy New Yorker piece or study up on the latest TechCrunch post, these apps keep your future reading list in your pocket.
Speaking of pockets, this app for iOS and Android turns bookmarking into a to-do list. Articles, videos, recipes—whatever you want to look at later will be waiting for you on your device when you’ve got some spare moments to kill.
Instapaper’s apps iOS and Android also store content for later. Still, Instapaper also strips out the ads and fancy formatting so you can focus on the words in an uncluttered environment for maximum readability.
When you finally clock out for the day, do you ever wonder how you felt so busy yet accomplished so little? If only someone were keeping tabs on what you were up to all day and then put it all into a fresh, colorful graphical breakdown. While that’s probably not a job any human would enjoy, there are a couple of apps ready and willing to take it on.
There are things we wish we did every day. There are other things we know we should do every day. But sometimes we don’t do them. With Loop’s Android app, you can note every time you read a book, went to the gym, or did the dishes. Or maybe you’d rather track how often you called a customer, checked in with your boss, or read up on a new technology trend. Regardless of which habits you want to build, Loop helps you keep up on how often you’re doing it.
To keep those habits and stick with them (or break some bad ones), the Streaks iOS app makes sure you’re sticking with your resolutions and pledges. Be the you that you want to be… and keep score while you’re at it.
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