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16 top productivity tools for small businesses and creators

Feeling distracted? These top productivity tools for small businesses and creators can help you stay organized, manage your time, and get more done.

TL;DR

Get more done with these top productivity tools for small business owners and creators

Distractions are everywhere, but they don’t have to derail your productivity. Here are 16 amazing tools to help you get more done and stay on track.

  • Track your time: Toggl, Clockify, and Focus Booster
  • Block distractions: SelfControl, Cold Turkey, Freedom, and Forest
  • Manage tasks and projects: Asana, ClickUp, and Trello
  • Streamline your business: Google Workspace, 1Password, Evernote, Canva, Zapier, and Podia

There’s no magic formula to mastering productivity, but with helpful software and a bit of practice, you’ll have more time for what really matters.

Building an online business has major perks. You can work from home, set your own hours, create things you love , and most importantly, do it all in sweatpants.

But staying productive while working on your business can be tricky. Between social media, cat memes, and checking the fridge to see if better snacks magically appeared, how is anyone supposed to get things done these days?

Luckily, there are tools that can help. In this post, we’ll explore 16 top productivity tools to monitor your time, reduce distractions, manage your to-do list, and accomplish your goals as a creator or small business owner.

Note: All pricing is accurate at the time of writing, but this is subject to change over time. As always, we hope it only changes in the money-saving direction.

Time tracking tools

Before you can manage your time effectively , you need to know how you’re spending it. Time tracking tools can help creators answer the age-old question: “Where did the day go?”

Surprisingly, 49% of people have never conducted a time audit to see how they’re using their hours.

Knowing how you spend your time is key to improving productivity. When you know how long your activities really take, you can plan your workday accurately and nip time-wasting activities in the bud.

Here are three simple time tracking tools you can use to get started:

Toggl

Toggl is a time tracking app that shows you how long your tasks take. Using Toggl is simple: Just type in what you’re doing, hit start, and get to work.

This process can reveal bigger trends in your workflow. For example, if posting on social media always takes longer than expected, you can allocate more time to social media marketing in your workday.

If you’re working as a freelancer , you can also use Toggl to keep track of hours worked for different clients, making invoicing a breeze.

Who it’s best for: Creators who want to learn where their time goes and freelancers who need to track how long they worked on different client projects.

Pricing:

  • Free forever

  • Starter: $9/user per month

  • Premium: $18/user per month

  • Enterprise: Custom pricing

Clockify

The Clockify time management app includes a tracker, weekly timesheet, calendar, and detailed reporting. You can also assign tasks to different projects or categories.

For example, if you were making an online course , you could track how long you spent writing scripts, recording course videos , and creating promotional materials . By the end of the project, you would know exactly how long it took to make your online course , broken down by task.

Clockify also has team time tracking features for managing workloads, booking time off, and invoicing.

Who it’s best for: Individuals and teams who want a clean time tracking interface with the ability to assign tasks to specific projects.

Pricing:

  • Free forever

  • Basic: $3.99/user per month

  • Standard: $5.49/user per month

  • Pro: $7.99/user per month

  • Enterprise: $11.99/user per month

Focus Booster

Focus Booster is a Pomodoro app that helps you work in short, focused bursts to get more done.

With the Pomodoro productivity method , you’ll work in 25-minute increments then take a short break. This system reduces interruptions, and you might be surprised by how much you can accomplish in a short amount of time.

In addition to facilitating Pomodoro sessions, Focus Booster offers general time tracking, daily to-do lists, a dashboard overview, and alerts to keep you on track.

Who it’s best for: Creators and small business owners who want to use a digital Pomodoro system for productivity.

Pricing:

  • Free forever: Includes 20 Pomodoro sessions per month

  • Professional with unlimited sessions: $4.99/month

Software for blocking distractions

The internet is an amazing place to learn, connect, and make a living. It’s also an amazing place to get distracted. Remove the temptation to go down a YouTube rabbit hole with these distraction-blocking productivity tools.

SelfControl

SelfControl is a free Mac application that lets you block websites while working or studying.

Decide how long you want to block distractions, add the sites you don’t want to access, and start the timer. You won’t be able to visit those websites until the timer finishes, freeing you up to complete your most important tasks.

It’s a simple productivity tool, but it works.

The American Psychological Association found that multitasking or changing tasks while working can decrease productivity by 40%. With SelfControl, you can keep your focus on the job at hand.

Who it’s best for: Apple Mac users who want to block distracting websites while they’re in work mode. Unfortunately, SelfControl isn’t available on Windows, Linux, Android, or iOS.

Pricing: Free

Cold Turkey

Like SelfControl, Cold Turkey removes online distractions and temptations. You can block specific websites, entire domains, keyword searches, or internet access.

With the Pro plan, you can go a step further and block applications, games, and folders on your computer. You can also schedule time in the future for blocks to take effect.

Additionally, Cold Turkey makes a special version for writers , which essentially turns your computer into a typewriter. You won’t be able to do anything but write until you’ve hit your desired word count or your timer runs out.

Who it’s best for: Any creators, especially writers, who want to block distracting web pages and computer applications.

Pricing:

  • Free forever

  • Blocker Pro Lifetime Access: $39

Freedom

With Freedom , you can remove any distractions in the digital world. Hide shopping websites, social media platforms, games, apps, and even the whole internet.

Freedom works on unlimited devices, and you can schedule blocks in advance, allowing your present self to prevent your future self from wasting time.

For example, if you want to write an ebook in seven days , you could use Freedom to block non-essential websites for a few hours each day. When the block begins, you’ll have no choice but to put your nose to the grindstone.

Who it’s best for: Individuals who need to erase distractions across all devices and want the ability to schedule blocked times in the future.

Pricing:

  • Free trial for seven sessions

  • Monthly: $8.99/month

  • Yearly: $3.33/month

  • Lifetime: $159.99

Forest

With the Forest app , you can gamify your productivity and prevent distractions on your iPhone or Android. 89% of employees said they think gamification increases their productivity at work, and Forest does this adorably.

When you need to get things done, open the Forest app to set a timer. As the timer runs, you’ll see a virtual tree growing.

If you ignore your phone, your tree will grow and bloom. But if you exit the app to do other things, the tree will die. Over time, you can design a charming forest by finishing tasks.

Real talk, I recently downloaded this app because it looked fun, and I love it so far. I’m amazed by how often I reach for my phone without thinking, but seeing my little trees growing is a great reminder to stay on track.

Who it’s best for: Creators who need to avoid distractions on their phones and are motivated by gamification (and cute plants).

Pricing: $3.99

Task and project management software

Task and project management software can help your business stay organized. When everyone knows what to do, more work gets done. Here are some of the best tools to manage your task list and move toward your goals.

Asana

Asana is a popular project management tool ideal for individual creators and growing teams. In Asana, you can organize your to-do lists, see tasks in Kanban boards, and track project timelines.

There’s also goal progression, calendar views, team workload management, and built-in time tracking so you can get a birds-eye view of your business in one central hub.

With over one hundred integrations, you can connect Asana with almost any other tools you use to run your business .

Who it’s best for: Individuals and teams who need a dashboard to manage their projects, tasks, and calendars. Integrations make this an easy choice even if you already use other software.

Pricing:

  • Free forever

  • Premium: $10.99/user per month

  • Business: $24.99/user per month

  • Enterprise: Custom pricing

ClickUp

ClickUp is a powerful to-do list and project management application where you can keep your business organized in one place. Stay on the ball with detailed task cards, collaborative documents, team chat, and time tracking.

You can also automate administrative tasks and build custom workflows to increase productivity. There are dozens of beautiful templates to get you started.

Because ClickUp offers separate “Spaces”, you can use it to run your business, manage your personal life, or both.

For example, if you’re trying to balance your full-time job with a side hustle , you can make a separate space for each one. You can look at them individually or click the “Everything” view to see all your tasks and calendar events in one clean dashboard.

Who it’s best for: Solopreneurs or small businesses that want one place for task management and tracking ongoing projects. Bonus points if you plan to use collaboration tools and advanced features like automated workflows.

Pricing:

  • Free forever plan

  • Unlimited: $9/member per month

  • Business: $19/member per month

  • Business Plus: $29/member per month

  • Enterprise: Custom pricing

Trello

Trello is a Kanban-style productivity tool for managing your to-do list and prioritizing tasks. In addition to boards, users can organize cards in lists and calendars for a fresh perspective.

Each card has space for subtasks and checklists, so you never have to worry about losing details. Trello also has automation features to reduce tedious tasks and keep your workflows moving.

While individual creators commonly use Trello, it also works great with small teams. If you hire a virtual assistant or work with freelancers , you can easily provide necessary information like deadlines, notes, files, and feedback.

Who it’s best for: Individuals or teams looking for a board-style organizational system for big picture projects, managing clients, or just staying organized in day-to-day life.

Pricing:

  • Free forever

  • Standard: $5/user per month

  • Premium: $10/user per month

  • Enterprise: Custom pricing

Tools for streamlining your small business

Finally, let’s look at general productivity tools that will make your business more efficient. As a creator, every moment counts. These systems will help you save precious time without missing a beat.

Google Workspace (Formerly known as G Suite)

Google Workspace is a popular business productivity product suite that can change how you handle team communication.

Within your Google Workspace, you can use Gmail for email management, Google Hangouts for video conferencing, and Google Calendar for remembering deadlines.

You can also organize your files in Google Drive. Store important business assets and create shareable spreadsheets, forms, documents, and presentations with built-in collaboration features.

Work with your team to edit Google Docs in real-time, enjoy maximum email functionality, and stay on top of meetings and due dates. Everything is accessible across all your devices for maximum convenience.

Who it’s best for: Creators and business owners who want a powerful place to communicate, collaborate, and store information.

Pricing:

  • Free

  • Business Starter: $6/user per month

  • Business Standard: $12/user per month

  • Business Plus: $18/user per month

  • Enterprise: Custom pricing

1Password

If you’ve ever wasted time hunting for random usernames and passwords, check out 1Password . 1Password is password management software that allows you to store passwords and securely share them with team members.

Just remember a single master password and 1Password takes care of the rest. It might sound like a small thing, but saving a few minutes every day adds up.

Who it’s best for: People who need to remember many passwords in one convenient location and want a way to share passwords with collaborators safely.

Pricing:

  • Free trial for 14 days

  • Individual: $2.99/month

  • Family: $4.99/month

  • Team plans are available depending on your business needs

Evernote

With the Evernote note-taking tool, you can jot down reminders, write memos, save files, create sketches, make to-do lists, and more. You can even make rich notes with checklists, tables, colors, and other organizational tools.

Essentially, Evernote is a system of digital notebooks that you can customize and configure however you like. You can search within Evernote to quickly find anything you’re looking for, and everything you write is synced across the desktop and mobile app.

Who it’s best for: Creators with many writing-related tasks who need an organized, searchable system for saving documents and notes.

Pricing:

  • Free forever

  • Personal: $7.99/month

  • Professional: $9.99/month

  • Teams: $14.99/user per month

Canva

Canva is a graphic design tool, and it’s a must if you create images for your business. Easily design ebooks , logos, banners, social media graphics , animated videos, slide decks, worksheets, reports, resumes, and more.

Any creative content you can imagine, you can probably make in Canva.

You’ll get access to stock photos, images, icons, fonts, and other elements you can use to make the digital marketing resources you need. Canva also includes templates that will make even the least design-savvy entrepreneur feel like a professional.

Best of all, Canva is free. Sure, the paid plans are more robust, but the hardy free plan makes this one of the best free business tools for creators around. Beautiful PDFs and jaw-dropping social media posts are within your grasp with Canva.

Who it’s best for: All creators and small businesses that make multimedia assets for their brand (and if you’re not doing this, you probably should be).

Pricing:

  • Free forever

  • Pro: $12.99/month

  • Enterprise: Custom pricing

  • Free premium version available for educators and nonprofits

Zapier

Zapier is an advanced productivity app and automation tool that allows you to connect all your business applications. It’s a huge timesaver since tedious manual tasks can be done automatically.

For instance, you can configure Zapier to send a Slack notification when a potential client downloads your lead magnet . Or you could automatically add customer information to a spreadsheet whenever someone purchases a digital download .

These actions, called Zaps , can enhance your business by automating workflows and ensuring important information goes to the right place.

Zapier integrates with over three thousand apps, including Dropbox , Calendly , Microsoft Office , Outlook , Basecamp , HubSpot , and Todoist , to name just a few.

Bottom line: If you use it, Zapier can probably connect it.

Who it’s best for: Creators and business owners who use many tools to run their business and need a way to connect them.

Pricing:

  • Free forever

  • Starter: $19.99/month

  • Professional: $49.99/month

  • Team: $299/month

  • Company: $599/month

Podia

Last but certainly not least, Podia is an all-in-one platform where you can run your online business as a creator.

Let’s face it: switching between platforms and learning new systems can be a timesink. 55.3% of workers said that using too many tools reduces their productivity. With Podia, all of your essential tasks happen under one roof.

Whether you’re selling digital products , running an online community , creating an affiliate program , or managing your email marketing campaigns , Podia keeps things running smoothly behind the scenes so you can focus on what you do best.

Try Podia free for 14 days.

Who it’s best for: Creators and small business owners who sell digital products or run online communities and want their whole toolkit in one place.

Pricing:

  • Mover: $39/month

  • Shaker: $89/month

  • Earthquaker: $199/month

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At the end of the day, these top productivity tools for small businesses and creators can help you get more done, even when your to-do list feels a mile long.

By tracking your time, avoiding distractions, managing your projects, and streamlining your processes, you’ll be on your way to more productivity before you know it. Let’s get to work.

About the author

Nicola is a content marketer for Podia, an all-in-one platform where online courses, digital downloads, and communities scale with their creators. She lives for lizards, loves to travel, and can often be found cooking up new recipes in the kitchen.