- Many workers are using OpenAI’s ChatGPT to help make their jobs easier.
- Labor experts agree that AI tools can make workers more productive.
- Insider’s Aaron Mok tested 4 AI tools for a week to see if they can boost productivity. Here’s what he found.
AI tools like OpenAI’s ChatGPT have taken the world by storm — and workers are using them to make their jobs easier.
Many experts agree that AI tools can boost productivity, and people have already used ChatGPT and other AI tools to generate articles, write code, and produce real estate listings in attempts to save time.
“It’s absolutely true that AI applications like ChatGPT can very much improve workers’ lives,” Mark Muro, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute who has researched the impact of AI on the workforce, previously told Insider.
We wanted to put some of these AI productivity tools to the test.
I simultaneously tested free versions of two AI tools — Grammarly and Notion.ai — and paid versions of two others —Brain.fm and Otter.ai — for a week to see if the tools would improve the speed and quality of my writing and enhance focus. Here’s what I found.
Notion AI was supposed to make writing easier. It did not.
I decided to try writing assistant Notion AI — the task management platform’s latest feature — after learning it can help workers generate ideas, summarize documents, and draft copy. The results were mixed.
The tool was helpful in drafting emails tailored to my needs. I asked the chatbot to “Write an email that can convince a source to talk to me with empathy and compassion,” for example, and it spat out an email that sounded professional and sensitive. But most of the emails it wrote were much too formal, and I’d have to take time to edit them.
When I asked the AI to generate a list of story ideas about a particular topic, they weren’t original or surprising, though they did give me some inspiration for potential angles to explore.
My main concern was how the tool generated misinformation: I asked the AI to summarize the main points of an article about a particular company in bullet points — which it did — but two of the bullets misstated the name of the company in question and the rest were vague. Checking the response for accuracy took more time than reading the article itself.
After further prompting, I was able to get Notion to generate emails, ideas, and article summaries with better results, though that required extra work.
Otter.ai attended virtual meetings on my behalf and exceeded my expectations
Some days get so busy that I don’t have time to attend important meetings, which is why I decided to try the voice-to-text transcription tool offered by Otter.ai, which could take notes on my behalf.
The results were impressive. Otter.ai was quick to set up and transcribed all that was said during the meeting in real time with relative accuracy. It rounded up the main points in a couple of bullets with time stamps, saving me from manually reading long transcriptions. This feature was especially helpful in summarizing notes from long, in-depth brainstorming sessions.
Grammarly is designed to improve the quality of writing, but it only distracted me
I tend to make errors when I write under tight deadlines, so I downloaded the AI-writing assistant Grammarly for a second pair of eyes. The browser extension makes suggestions about word choice and sentence structure, checks for plagiarism, generates citations, and reviews essays.
While Grammarly was great at catching spelling and punctuation errors, it produced many distractions. Red lines underscored words that were spelled correctly, features like “tone insights” randomly popped up, and changes to sentences were constantly being recommended — all of which disrupted the flow of writing. It even slowed down my computer and froze my browser a few times.
The bottom line: It didn’t save me time and complicated the writing process.
Brain.fm offers AI-generated music to help with focus. It worked.
Focusing on a single task can be hard, especially when working from home, so I decided to try Brain.fm, a tool that uses AI to generate music designed for focusing, relaxing, and sleeping.
It didn’t disappoint.
I selected a range of music options like electronic and atmospheric — genres that the company labels as ideal for “deep work — and it was just what my brain needed to quickly transition into a focused state of mind.
Brain.fm was especially helpful when I lacked motivation to complete rote tasks like responding to emails. Unlike Spotify’s study playlists, Brain.fm’s music is designed to help users focus by a team of scientists and composers.
While some genres like “grooves” didn’t work for me, Brain.fm was easy to use and effective in giving me the boost I needed to buckle down and grind.
The takeaway? AI tools will not do your job, but they can make it easier if you spend time learning how to use them
After playing with these tools for a week, I realized that there’s a learning curve.
As a worker who still writes to-do lists by hand, learning how to use the tools was a matter of trial-and-error. Figuring out how to tweak prompts to produce the best outcomes and how to troubleshoot glitches demanded extra time that I would’ve rather spent chipping away at more pressing tasks.
Making changes to your daily work routine is a skill that requires practice. I would’ve probably found these tools more helpful if I used them longer, but I personally don’t have the patience to upend my work processes for the sake of automation.
Trying out one or two tools at a time, getting comfortable with them, and then adding new ones for more advanced tasks might be your best bet. And as for me, a robot cannot do my job — at least not yet.