Tried, Tested, Tossed: TPB Guide to Productivity Apps

Running a small business doesn’t actually mean having to run around from office to clients and back to the office to check on your team. Neither does it mean sitting in front of your laptop with fifteen different tabs open. In fact, business management can be made simple with the right productivity apps. How do you know which apps will work for you? Our team has tried, tested and tossed a few apps to help make it easier for you to find the right tools for your business.

Task Management

Keeping track of tasks can take up time. It can take up even more time if you’re trying to keep track of the tasks belonging to your team. Apps that take care of this for you not only improve your task management but also your time management. is a collaboration and communication app that syncs all project information, allowing team members to keep track of all tasks in one place. At a basic-package cost of $39 (about R560), all team members are set-up on a single business board and promptly notified of any relevant activity. However, at The Pencil Box, we found that we were not able to customise it enough to suit our needs. At its core, is more list-based than visual – something that does not quite fit a right-brained team of creatives.

Which brought us to Meistertask. Using the pro plan at just $8.25 (about R120), Meistertask is a cheaper and easy-to-use online task management and work trafficking tool for teams. Simple project boards allow you to set-up, manage and maintain a birds-eye view of all the tasks that your team is working on. You can set up job tickets for each of your team members, manage deadlines, create checklists, track workflow and more.

In addition, Meistertask is visually pleasing and has easily customisable project boards and fields that ensure your team-members remember to include information pertaining to a particular task. The app can also be integrated with third-party apps, like Dropbox, Google Drive and your calendar – regardless of whether you’re using Google or Outlook. This makes it perfect for us and it could be the right solution for your team too – whether it’s big or small.

Time Tracking

Recording and managing hours is important for any business. Through tracking the time spent on various projects, you will understand exactly how you and your team spend your time, contributing to greater productivity and an improved workflow. Our decision to start using the app was based on us billing per hour as well as assessing more accurate project rates. Using Toggl means exact billing, rather than estimating the time that something has taken.

At a starting price of just $10 (about R145), Toggl is a time-tracking app that uses one-click timers to start time entry or continue tracking a previous task. There are pop-up tracking reminders when you forget to track your work. The integration-friendly app also detects idle-time, giving you the option to discard it. In addition to other features, Toggl provides a reporting system. You’ll know exactly how much time each individual on your team spent on a project, along with a breakdown of resources, like design time, copywriting, research etc.

We’ve used the app for about three years. Once you’ve gotten into the habit of tracking your hours, Toggl can improve your time management. On the downside, the app doesn’t quite work when you’re busy with multiple projects at once. Rather than being able to switch from project to project, you would have to stop, manually switch and start again.

Social Media Management 

Social media is vital in creating brand awareness and loyalty, which is vital to your business. It can also provide insight into which types of content your target audience enjoys the most and which products or services your target audience requires the most, helping your business cater accordingly and grow. Therefore, the way you manage and maintain your social media matters. There are many social media management apps. While we’ve used Hootsuite for quite some time, we’re switching over to Later as our primary social media tool. Here’s our comparison:


Hootsuite Later
About A social media management tool that allows you to schedule your content, as well as measure its impact, on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Later allows you to visually plan, schedule and analyse posts across various social media platforms – including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest. Using Later’s content library, you can organise all your photos and videos in one place before planning your feed with a visual content calendar.
Starting Cost R439/month Free to individuals and ranging from $9-$49 (about R130 to R720) if you’re wanting to schedule more posts at a time.
Performance Reports The app produces overview reports but also allows you to choose from over 200 metrics in order to build your own custom report. The app provides you with content performance reports. You can compare your Instagram posts to discover your most engaging content.
Automated Publishing You can automatically schedule hundreds of social media posts at a time – including your promoted posts. Later lets you schedule automatic posting but their business plan takes it a few steps further; you can schedule 250 posts a month on your various platforms, including Instagram stories.
Contact Management With Hootsuite, you can search for new followers or connections and manage existing followers or
connections. This allows easy engagement.
Multi-Account Management You can host up to ten social profiles. You can host up to five social profiles on each of the four social media platforms.

While both apps provide you with content performance reports, social media management goes beyond just posting content to your business’ social media profiles. It also includes community management, advertising and design. You need to engage with your audience while constantly looking for new opportunities to increase reach.

Fortunately, they haven’t yet designed an app to do the job of a flesh and blood social media community manager. That’s where we come in! We offer a number of social media packages to suit your needs – from strategy to photography, copywriting to social media advertising and reporting to community management – we can help you find and connect with your tribe.

Also On Our List


At a starting cost of $19.99 (around R290), Cloze is a contact-managing system that keeps all information about your contacts in one place – including all communication with them. This means a single view of everything from emails to meetings, calls to relevant files – all with no data entry. Simply put, Cloze automatically keeps everything contact-related up-to-date, saving you from having to carry out tedious admin work.


Promising never to hamper your creativity, Ayoa is a task-management tool that works off your mind-maps. Rather than lists and spreadsheets, you can create up to five visual mind-maps free. Dedicating one mind map to one project, you can arrange your thoughts on it as branches and then turn those into tasks. Mind maps have been proven to boost productivity, creativity and memory so why not incorporate it into your task-management?


A fun way to stay focused, Forest will help you avoid picking up your phone – for free. It starts with planting a tree when you start working. If you can manage to stay off your phone for 30 minutes, your tree will grow. But leave the app and your tree will die immediately.