Can productivity be beautiful?
I’m sure you’ve worked with at least 1 or 2 tools to help you create projects for yourself, be it beautiful content creation for your social media or simple graphics for your website. But what are tools that help the entire creative process, from creation to release?
We’re diving into some creative tools and software to help you complete your creative projects and express more of your beauty to the world. ?
The Magic of Having the Right Tools
Fresh and juicy ideas, akin to a delicious bowl of fresh fruit, can be bountiful by themselves— but when you have creative software to bring them all together, you can create a feast that more than just you can enjoy. ?
Same thing is with creativity. I’m sure you have a lot of creative ideas sitting around, waiting to be brought out, but might lack the tools to help you do so. With the proper tools, like rookie graphic design tools, photo editing tools, and project management tools, you’ll actually be able to share your creations with the world, setting you up for a lifetime of creative expression.
Sound like a dream? Here are some great tools that you can use for your everyday work life to make creation just that much easier. ?
Software and Tools for Creatives to Enhance Productivity and Aesthetic (2023)
The tech pot is a smorgasbord of streamlined software and intricate tools, many of which are focused on function and not on design and aesthetics. But don’t worry— we’ll only be focusing on the tools that are functional and beautiful, so you can get the best of both worlds and not feel overwhelmed by clunky, ugly designs.
Let’s dive into to beautiful productivity— what tool will be your next download?
Marketing + Graphic Design Tools 〰️
Alright, let’s dive into the first set of tools that cater to two immensely important realms of the creative industry: marketing and graphic design.
Whether you’re a creative marketer looking to stream your freelancing work or agency into something a bit more focused, or looking to expand your personal brand into influencer marketing, there are a few tools that you’ll need to know to match beauty and function together like a sweet fruit salad. ?
Oh, this gem has become a go-to for both beginners and creative professionals alike. Think of it like beginner’s graphic design for those who want to start making content creation straight-up easier. This certainly doesn’t match tools like Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign, where professional designers typically live, but it’s not really meant to. If you’re looking for a quick logo, some simple video content creation, or adding some design features to an overall dull Instagram idea, this go-to design collaboration tool is going to deliver.
- Drag-and-drop interface: Drag and drop your own content, as well as stock photos, graphics, gifs, and more into the interface through its simple sidebar.
- Templates galore: You never need to start from scratch with their hundreds of professional templates even on their free plan, which you could customize in minutes.
- Design collaboration: Bring a friend, co-worker, or your design team on with you to help you manage projects through real-time collaboration, all the way down to see exactly where their mouse is. Ask for edits even from someone who doesn’t have an account.
- Free plan: Even with a $0 budget, Canva’s robust free plan is still packed with stock photos, graphics, elements, fonts, and features galore.
- Visual, colorful layout: Canva’s interface is simple to use, colorful, and super accessible to anyone whose coming onto it for the first time.
- Design library: Far from the Google Fonts you know and love, Canva’s fonts, images, and graphic features in their design library give you a multitude of options to choose from to make your graphics branded and your own.
- Artsy stock photos: while there are many of your traditional “white background, overexposed” stock photos in their gallery, they do have a bunch of stock photos that look worlds more realistic. It might just take you a bit of digging.
There are lots of reel editors out there now, but CapCut is one of the only ones that let you find inspiration from other creators right in the app. If you’ve been on the hunt to find a non-glitchy Instagram video editor, consider giving CapCut a whirl to make social media video content templatized and approachable.
- User-friendly interface: Many video editor apps are confusing, from figuring out how to fade or mute the video, to not being able to zoom in and out of images and videos. CapCut’s UI is simple, clean, and has clear buttons so you always know what you’re clicking on— especially when you’re trying to edit something on such a small screen.
- Rich feature set: This video editor doesn’t skimp on features. Trimming, cutting, adding transitions, and adding your own assets are all possible in this app.
- Inspiration feed: Not only can you create your own videos, but you can find inspiration and use assets and templates from other people through CapCut’s feed. Discover new videos by Following, For You, Memes, and more.
- Simple, clean UI: No complicated designs that overcrowd the screen— it’s super simple and streamlined to edit your videos cleanly, without added fluff.
- Fonts, filters + effects: brand your own videos with editable colors, fonts, and filters, so your video can go beyond its traditional form (and so it’s not limited to Instagram’s limited options).
So, while the other apps were more for creating the aesthetic, here’s where we can actually enjoy the aesthetic. If you’re used to using clunky features like Meta Business Suite, then you likely know the struggles of working with a tool that isn’t really working for you as it should. If you’ve been feeling this struggle when trying to actually plan and distribute your content, then Planoly is exactly what you need: a powerful tool to make social media distribution (and creation) simple.
- Content calendar: One of Planoly’s standout features is its content calendar, allowing you to schedule posts in advance and get a bird’s-eye view of your content strategy.
- Multi-platform distribution: Without a planner like this, you have to manually publish everything, or with Meta Business Suite, you’re limited to just Facebook and Instagram. But with Planoly, you have Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, X, Pinterest, Youtube, and LinkedIn all in one, plus linkinbio tools, content ideas, and more.
- Instagram advanced audience analytics: What’s better than posting beautiful content? Knowing how well it performs. Planoly provides analytics to track engagement and optimize future posts with a more in-depth analytics account so you can oversee your most popular content.
- Visual, multi-channel content planner + workspace: Compared to other social media management software, Planoly is stunning, clean, and geared towards aesthetics and ease, and offers the ability to plan out your content on all the platforms you’re covering.
- Stunning templates + ideas: No need to start from scratch; Planoly offers a variety of templates that are not only functional but also incredibly beautiful.
- Ideas + notes section: Instead of having social media ideas all over your notes, you can keep them neatly condensed in one place, ready to create and schedule.
Project Management Tools 〰️
We covered visuals— creating, planning, and distributing that marketing. But what about tech that’s a little more in-depth, like managing projects before they get put out into the world?
For some, organization and project management can get overwhelming— there are so many clunky products out there, which could sway our artistic brands from wanting to get wrapped up in any confusing, clunky platforms. But rest assured, these productive and aesthetic tools will help you organize what you need in style. ?♀️
Notion is the tool that gives productivity lovers all the advanced features of a tool in one– and I mean all. In fact, there are people who have YouTube videos, blogs, and entire brands built around using Notion to optimize their professional and personal lives, as it’s a tool that allows everything from wiki creation to document generation to project management. A useful tool for those who “want one app that does it all,” Notion is a tool that brings minimalism to organization in a whole new way.
- All-in-one workspace: Notion serves as a centralized hub for all your project-related needs, from task lists to collaborative documents. You can write a document here just as easily as building a project board just as easily as creating your own brand’s wiki, managing multiple projects across your space and keeping them organized without having to click hundreds of times to get there (hey Google Workspace, we’re lookin’ at you!).
- Customizable templates: Even the simplest template will help you get started, especially if Notion is a new tool for you!
- Kanban boards: If you’re a fan of visual project management, Notion’s Kanban boards are a dream come true, so you can move tasks through different stages to keep everyone on the same page just like any traditional project management software could.
- Integrated to-do lists: If you’re in the mood for a more old-school to-do list, Notion’s got you covered there too. Create, assign, and tick off tasks all within the platform, wherever you’d like.
- Minimalistic design: One of Notion’s hallmarks is its clean, minimalistic design that reduces clutter and focuses your attention where it’s needed. Where other platforms want multiple features and buttons, Notion keeps things clean, and with just a little knowledge of the shortcuts, you can still hone in on its flexibility like you would like any other complex tool.
- Custom icons and covers: Notion lets you add a splash of personality to your workspace with customizable icons and covers, giving a more inspiring environment for your creative projects and letting you create beautiful and tailored cohesion, whether it’s simple emojis, icons, or even your own gif.
- Notion Enhancer Chrome extension: For Notion power users, you can use the Notion Enhancer Chrome extension to customize your themes, fonts, features, and more.
ClickUp prides itself on being more than just a generic project management platform; it completely adapts to your workflow, with customizations, options, and themes that seem to have thought of everything before you think of it. ClickUp boasts the “productivity” in productivity tool, guaranteeing you to save at least 1 day every week.
- Versatile workflow views: List, Board, and Calendar allow you to tailor your workflow in a way that works best for you, which you can also sync up to your personal calendar for additional management.
- Amazing custom fields: Some project management tools give you a few options: URLs, text, numbers, and maybe a tag or single-select option. With ClickUp? Status, Rating, Location, and more make custom fields at a whole new level.
- Low-click design: most of the other project management systems require you to physically click inside a card or list in order to click a link in a custom field, but not ClickUp! Their UI has made it simple to minimize clicks to increase productivity and save time.
- Sleek and clean interface: While ClickUp’s a tool that’s a little more feature-heavy and busy than Notion, it still does a great job keeping everything organized and intuitive, from having a dragging option for sliding through a Kanban format to being able to show custom fields without clicking into cards. Plus, you can even create documents!
- Customizable themes: When you first start with ClickUp, they ask you about your favorite color to use with the theme, which changes the overall color scheme based on which one you pick. You can always change it around if your tastes change, but it adds lots of delighters when you have the ability to see your favorite colors every day!
- Customizable HEX codes for tags and custom fields: most project management tools have a set number of colors to choose from, but with ClickUp, you can customize your fields with any color of the rainbow. Pastel, minimalistic workspace lovers, you’ll adore this option!
Let’s give a nod to Trello, an oldie but a goodie in the project management toolkit. Trello’s charm lies in its simplicity and customizable options to make your boards as fun, minimalistic, calming, or relaxing as you’d like.
- Drag-and-drop boards: Trello’s design truly makes it feel like you’re moving around post-it notes, with its Kanban view being perhaps the most comprehensive and popular.
- Customizable checklists in cards: When you have a task with several subtasks underneath it, you can create a Trello checklist, rename it, and even add more than one!
- Integrations + power-ups: Trello seamlessly integrates with a host of other tools like Google Drive and Slack, making it a versatile part of any productivity toolkit. It also includes additional apps, like being able to see how long ago your card was created, add repeating cards, and even include voting!
- Clean layout: Trello’s design offers just the right engaging, uplifting colors without being distracting or off-putting, letting your task be center stage and its colors highlight it in its best form.
- Background customization: Trello might be the only tool to let you customize the background of a Kanban board, so you can have a vastly customized feel depending on your preferences, mood, topic, theme— whatever your heart desires.
- Card covers: Add images or gifs to a card cover so you can have a visual of the project or to simply make it more beautiful and aesthetic for you.
Photo + Video Editing Tools 〰️
Even the best shot uses post-production magic to make it show-stopping when it’s featured online. And for videos, you need something that will truly wow your audience so they can follow a story and learn about your brand. Here are our top 2 tools for you to make your snap and flicks personalized, engaging, and oh-so-you. ?
Part of Adobe’s expansive Creative Cloud, Lightroom is a favorite among both elementary and more advantaged photographers and graphic designers alike.
- Non-destructive editing: What sets Lightroom apart is its non-destructive editing capabilities. You can experiment to your heart’s content without losing the original qualities of your image— a practical win-win.
- Free account options: For those who aren’t ready to commit to a subscription, Adobe offers a free account with limited but useful features, letting you dip your toes into the world of professional photo editing before taking the full plunge.
- Sync across devices: Airdropping photos back and forth can get old real quick. Using Creative Cloud, you can sync your photos across your phone, laptop, iPad, and any other relevant devices, so you can have all your photos in one place without having to download, reupload, rinse, and repeat.
- Batch editing: One of Lightroom’s most valuable productivity features is the ability to edit multiple photos at once, so just like you’d be batching your content, you can batch your photo editing with a few simple clicks.
- Presets: This is probably the best feature of Lightroom— presets, or little photo editing templates, can immediately make your photo professionally edited, using contrast, exposure, shadows, black point, hues, and more to turn a photo from an autumn day one minute to a cold, winter afternoon the other to a rose-gold haven the next.
- Intuitive interface: Photo editing is easy and a lot less overwhelming than Photoshop, especially for beginners!
This last tool on our list offers deeper aestheticism, particularly for personal brands, from filters to effects to AI (and now, even video templates).
- Uses AI for fun: Prequel leverages artificial intelligence for different photo effects, letting you get stunning results in a matter of minutes and quality that makes it look like a professional did it.
- User-friendly interface: The tool’s design platform focuses on ease of use, allowing you to create gorgeous edits without needing an extensive background in photo editing. Just slide through your options on the bottom of the screen, and adjust until you see fit.
- Free and premium Plans: Whether you’re just getting started or you’re a seasoned pro, Prequel does offer a free option with limited features if you’d like to try it out before committing.
- Custom filters and effects: Prequel offers a rich library of filters and special effects that let you tailor your images to a wide range of aesthetic styles. It goes beyond Lightroom, from adding fairy wings to a portrait to adding light leaks throughout a picture.
- Text and sticker add-ons: Add a little bit of textual or pictorial flair to your images to add that extra zhuzh.
- Video templates: start your reel videos with an idea, and simply bring in your own content to create it. It’s that simple!
If you want to create but feel like you’re strapped down by limited tools, congrats ?. You now have a whole slew of creative tools in your new suite of creative tools, to explore every aspect of the creative process that’s held you back from organizing or releasing your creative work to the world. Create, organize, and explore, friends!
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