The Genre of Productivity: The Next Big Thing On The Web

The following is a guest post by Dan Gordon. He is a fourth generation jeweler and President of Samuel Gordon Jewelers in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. So based on that…why did I ask him to write a guest post? Well, I wanted him to expand upon his thoughts he had shared with my podcast co-host (and fellow guest star here at this week) Michael Schechter on Twitter just a couple of weeks ago. And Dan kindly obliged. You can learn more about Dan at his website or follow Dan on Twitter here.

It’s no secret that the productivity genre has been really heating over the past year. Every technology podcast and blog is tapping into the not so new trend of GTD and other ways to de-clutter your brain, organize your workflow and increase life task related performance results. I’ll admit I haven’t been following along as closely as many others I know have, but I am doing so very closely now — and will be going forward.

While I’ve always been a geek at heart, my attention span has mainly lived on the web in the social media web for marketing my family business, Samuel Gordon Jewelers. I’m very engulfed in social media space. In a sense, this is a pivot for me. It started when my pal Michael Schechter’s blog started posting consistently more information on these types of apps and tools. I started reading. And I starting learning. And, it started getting real interesting. Then it really got me thinking. Then my brain started frying. (Just kidding…kind of.)

When Michael started writing about this, I started following some of the blogs and people he had been following. I also started to recall back when “Remember The Milk” was interesting. Then I thought how not too long ago everyone seemed to be talking about (and using) 37Signals’s Basecamp for collaborative project management. It was a new thing and ahead of its time.

We seemed to have gotten so quickly to where we are now.

Asana, with people on board such as Dustin Moskivitz — one of Facebook’s co-founders (as most of you that are reading this know) — is quickly gaining adoption as one of the most attractive choices in this space for project management. OmniFocus, which is another “household name” when it comes to mapping out a bird’s eye view of workflow, is held close to many other people’s everyday GTD routine. We are seeing huge growth in notetaking apps, highly-advanced collaborative tools, todo lists with reminders and Dropbox support to back them all up.

What is happening here? Why are people like me, starting to hear more about these ultra-geeky tools and — even more astoundingly — beginning to understand them? Is it starting to tip to the masses?

If you take, for example, the sparse and sporadic (but yet high profile) website coverage of Asana, you hear a tone in every blogger, every tech journalist and every writer’s reference as a “Business Social Network”. But not in the same demeanor as LinkedIn (as there is a huge fundamental difference between these two). LinkedIn is mainly used to connect with new and existing contacts. Asana is to task…socially. Each of these stories go into detail and try to explain how Asana is an interactive social network for business. The reports are told in a somewhat vague fashion, but once anyone signs up and uses the tools, the conceptual difference is easy to understand.

We seem to be phasing into the next level of social media. It’s a different social web out there. The masses have arrived and more people are writing better. Grammar and punctuation are now critiqued in tweets by peers. Tweets have to be meatier. Personal publishing is now under more scrutiny than it was just even a year ago. People are getting stingier with their Likes, Retweets , Re-shares and every other verb that fellow “friends” and “followers” love to see as call to actions. Even those that aren’t necessarily tech-savvy are taking it upon themselves to learn basic HTML in order to gain a better understanding of the web we are using.

This is all leading to what some geeky types have known for quite some time. But, the rest of us are just starting to play catchup. It’s Web 3.0. And it all surrounds productivity and efficiency.

So, where will the masses go now? Same places, just with better tools. Let’s call it “sharing-ly productive”. It’s the next phase. It provides one another a social connection. It lets us show others how smart we are and what we can bring to the table more efficiently and effectively. When we take on projects in the workplace, it is a very social experience.

From the time I’ve spent using Asana for my business, I would describe it as an “intellectually enhanced” social network. All of this brain power going on, being exchanged and relayed, task completion and all gaming mechanics that temporarily satisfies the insatiable human mind. This feels like an evolved Facebook — or a more informative Twitter. Exact relevancy to a task at hand we are outlining as it pertains to requested information. Information. Now we’re getting somewhere. Information with a purpose and an outline. Now that’s even better.

The novelty of social media as a form of communication has worn off completely; even for the mainstream now. And that is taking us in a new direction. The beginning of smarter social network usage equals productivity tools. It’s becoming about how to save time, work more efficiently, being able to remind, save and view for sharing when the time is appropriate later on for the networks we already use. Google is in the game; all Google+ is doing is tying up all the tools together. Why do you think they are getting everything nice and tidy? In fact, don’t be surprised if we see the Facebook App Store sooner than later. Productivity isn’t Facebook’s strong point, but I can guarantee when my wife and all her friends start seeing social sharing fully integrated with productivity apps, they are going to go crazy…and in a good way. I don’t think it has begun to hit that demographic yet — but it will. And when it does, there will be a huge impact. It makes no difference if it’s a huge success to Facebook; what does matter is that it will raise the awareness to the last mile of the non-geek userbase. And when that happens (and it becomes cool to be productive to the mainstream), then what do you think happens next?

Maybe I’m way too far out on this one. Maybe I’ve lost my mind. Maybe this is just an isolated group and always will be. But, I’d bet my Mac that following this space is not only worth it, but an essential piece of the roadmap puzzle that we call “social”. I believe the proverbial writing is on the wall, and the convergence from paper to paperless, social media to social efficiency, will all bridge with this Genre of Productivity.

Tell me why I’m wrong. I’d love to hear why you agree or disagree in the comments section down below.

Photo credit: Marc Falardeau (CC BY 2.0)