3 Free tools to help you become instantly more productive

Technology illustrations by Storyset

Nobody likes paying for things they can get for free; in fact, it was one of the driving forces behind me starting my business. I became increasingly frustrated as I worked with businesses that spent a lot of money on technology that they either didn’t use properly or didn’t need. I’ve been on a mission to change that dynamic because the right technology in the right situation can change the game.

Finding free/cheap ways or ‘hacks’ to get things done has always been one of my strong suits. I’ve applied this to how I run my business as well, and I’ve discovered over a hundred different platforms that I use to make my life easier in various situations and tasks. One way I’m hoping to give back and help the business community is by sharing some of the free tools I use to do more with less – this first part focuses on three free tools that can help you become more productive.

Before we begin, I’d like to share the criteria I’ve used to select these platforms:

  1. They must be completely free or have a generous free plan that allows you to see a benefit – I will specify this for each platform.
  2. They must be platforms that I have used before; otherwise, it is just a review.

Finally I want to state I’m currently not affiliated with any of the platforms that I’ll be listing, I don’t get anything if you use them or not. I’m planning to keep it that way but I’ll let you know if that changes in future.

Free Productivity Tool 1 – Make

What is it:

Make is a no-code workflow automation tool. Doesn’t that sound cool? In layman’s terms, it’s a platform that allows you to automate tasks across and between various platforms. You’ve probably heard of Zapier; this is a similar platform with more flexibility.

They have hundreds of pre-built connectors to some of the most popular business platforms – if you have a process that involves multiple platforms and activities that are triggered by certain events, you’ll most likely be able to automate it using Make. Similarly, if you have a process with a lot of manual steps, it’s likely that you’ll be able to automate some or all of it in Make.

What’s great about it:

With so many platforms that they can connect to with the click of a button, you can build very simple or complex workflows. It’s also a good way to connect some of your platforms together so you don’t have to manually enter data from one system into another. The platform is very reliable and stable, and it is used by thousands of businesses large and small all over the world, so you’re in good company.

What are the limitations:

The learning curve can be a bit steep, there’s loads of free resources and videos around to guide you through so it’s certainly not impossible. I’ve actually found that the biggest limitation is users identifying the most appropriate processes to automate using Make.

Pricing model:

Decent Free Plan. You can sign up for free and get 1,000 operations per month, as well as have two active scenarios at the same time. This should usually be enough to automate at least one process. The pricing scales fairly well from there, but only pay if you discover you need more scenarios or have exceeded your limit.

Free Productivity Tool 2 – Slides Carnival

What is it:

Slides Carnival is a collection of professionally designed Powerpoint and Google Slides presentation templates that are freely available. With over 255 fully customizable templates, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to finding the right design for your presentation. Slides Carnival’s creator says it best: they’re here to help people create meaningful content without worrying about how their slides look.

What’s great about it:

Aside from the free part, it’s the variety of templates and designs. One of my favourite features is that each template, once downloaded, can be completely customised. Each element can be resized, recoloured, reordered, and changed to fit your brand’s aesthetic.

What are the limitations:

The only real limitation is that you can’t on-sell the slides, you are free to use for personal or commercial use without any registration or attribution just not on-sell them.

Pricing model:

Genuinely free to use.

Free Productivity Tool 3 – PandaDoc

What is it:

PandaDoc is a fantastic little tool for digitally signing documents. PandaDoc eliminates the need for you or your customers to print contracts, physically sign them, and then scan them in. Simply upload your document, create signature fields, and enter the email addresses of those who need to sign before you’re done.

What’s great about it

Three things I really like about PandaDoc are that you get notifications on document views and actions, such as when someone views your document and then signs it. The fully signed document is also sent to all parties for their records. Finally, I appreciate that their platform is ESIGN and UETA compliant, making it legally binding. Every signed document is also accompanied by an electronic certificate.

What are the limitations

One annoying limitation of the free plan is that you have to upload PDF documents, I’ve uploaded the raw word document a few times only to be told I needed to upgrade to add a signature. So, when using PandaDoc, make sure to only upload PDF documents; you can still add fields for people to fill out, such as name, date, and so on.

Pricing model

Decent Free plan – Unlimited legally binding eSignatures, Unlimited document uploads

Additional Help

We’ve created a  Quick Tips Guide for some pointers on how to get started with these platforms, as well as examples of how I’ve used them and the results I’ve achieved – you’ll need to enter your email address to download below:

In our next instalment we will share 3 Free tools for non-designers to help you create epic images for your marketing.

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