If I were to google digital productivity, we would find an endless list of blog posts in the genre of ‘Top 10 Productivity Apps’. These articles are called listicles and the way they have been exploited over the years does not leave them with a reputation for insight. Now, that kind of imitation marketing is a meaningful indicator for a saturated marketplace, but the digital battle of man versus productivity is far from being resolved. We are still complaining about overloaded e-mail inboxes, corporations progressively talk about digitalisation, and many authors keep on dedicating effort to reveal the secret sauce behind the craft.
We all know it, in the broad universe of information workers, individual and team productivity is a huge topic. The common aim is to get things done: harder, better, faster, or stronger (I know some people who would disagree with that assumption, so I leave it up to the reader to interpret it). What’s important to understand though, is the enormous influence that digitalisation has had on our daily productivity. Picture it as a technological high tide, delivering a new App with every wave. Now, I want to introduce you to a special one, called Conode…
Conode is (not) another productivity app. It brings a unique 3-step workflow. If you are a busy person and keen on winning many minutes every day: keep reading. If you want to own your productive workflow like a ninja, yep, this is the right address. If not, here’s a picture of a cat.
Get sh*t done
It was Pascal Blaise who said “Je vous écris une longue lettre parce que je n’ai pas le temps d’en écrire une courte.” This hints at the problem that it takes time to condense large, complex workloads into simple tasks. Structuring and prioritising all running topics is key to efficiently tackle issues in your life, and thereby reduce stress. I believe that conventional tools do not offer a holistic model to achieve that. On the one end, specific tools only apply to very specific use cases (e.g. CRM). While e-mail inboxes (that apply for any kind of productive topic) are just bad at keeping the overview.
So what would Pascal Blaise do if he were a product manager?
Well, we – the Conode team – crawled into the skin of Mr. Blaise and took a mental deep dive into the craft of personal productivity. From this we distilled one thing: a workflow. In our eyes, every task consists of 3 simple steps: thought, organisation, and action. Most people go through this loop many times a day, and that is why it’s worth optimising it by the second. To achieve that, the magic lies in building features that turn unstructured information into structured actions. A spontaneous thought is easily scribbled down on a napkin, but have you ever tried organising your tax return on a single post-it? Conode is bridging this gap for you in the following way:
Step 1: Get your thoughts down
Do you know that feeling of a sudden urge to write something down during a meeting, a phone call, or a tram ride. Usually that’s because you have unresolved topics flying around inside your head. The fear of forgetting something important or the lack of focus to move on, puts you in a mini-state of acute stress. In turn this pushes people to grab the nearest object around and write down an impromptu todo list. This is commonly referred to as ‘removing clutter’. It gives you space to think and move on. Productive behaviour is mostly spawned from this mechanism. So, how does the digital environment help the user in this process? The obvious approach is a multi-device supercalifragilistic cloud solution, which promises access to your content everywhere and at any time. So far for the architecture – but what about UI/UX? Conode wants to make it as easy as possible to create a new Note at all times throughout the experience. For this, we invented the “brain fart metric”, which corresponds to the number of interactions required to save a piece of text in the application. By minimising this number we make our user’s life easier, because you never know when a sudden thought will hit you…
Step 2: Organise things intuitively
Our second value proposition revolves around structuring and prioritising. First off, items are grouped using hashtags only. Instead of creating a folder system, we want to offer the flexibility of a network. For example, all items that contain a specific tag can be grouped under a Topic. And you can connect that to further content via comparable tags: items tagged with #ski have probably something to do with #skiing and maybe even #snowboard… Our second engaging feature is ‘Pages’. We set out to build a sleek text editor equipped with functions to format paragraphs, move them around like blocks, and convert them to other item types. So you can start out by writing an unstructured bucket list, and end up with a solid overview of your life targets. The third way Conode offers an intuitive visual experience is through easily allowing to convert Notes to Tasks and Pages, by using drag & drop. These features give the benefit of overview, which is key for organisation.
Step 3: Convert to action
There’s no point in being super-well organised if you don’t know how to execute. So far, we only talked about preparation: getting everything in place to truly understand what needs to be done. Now comes the crucial part: actually doing something. In the digital productivity space this usually translates in sending an e-mail or setting up a task for reminding and tracking the status. The problem here is that usually you need to open up different applications to complete those actions. We call that a media break, and it is a huge focus-killer (especially if this or that is a familiar sight). Now, in Conode these actions are covered from the inside. We offer the possibility to fire a block of text directly as an e-mail, without needing to jump over to your inbox and interrupting your experience. Now we plan to extrapolate this mechanism to all your favourite SaaS applications : Need to fix a bug? Send your Note to Jira. Have a new customer? Push a text block with their phone number to Hubspot. Want to tell your team you love them? Shoot that poem you have been working on to Slack. We believe that bringing all these automatic integrations under the same experience is key to make users excel in their daily routines.
For anyone who is considering getting on board, the question remains: “Where is this MVP going? What can I expect in the future?”, which I need to answer in 3 phases. For the short term, we are building collaboration functionalities. This is a must-have if you work in teams. In the middle term, we are doing machine learning research, as we are convinced that with this technology Conode can bring forth the intelligence of a real digital assistant. On the long term, we dream about and pursuit a cloud operating system for digital productivity, where instead of files we talk about notes, events or contacts, and a solution that can adapt to many disciplines by integrating to the corresponding ecosystem (from designer to manager, up to housewife/man).
How is that making the world better off?
So far I talked mostly about features and shared a glimpse of our vision (which probably is due to the fact that I’m a product nerd). But for the sake of user added value, I want to end with the benefits that Conode brings to you. First, I want to talk about time. You see, Conode makes short productivity workflows faster, but the real gain lies in the fact that for a digital person these procedures are followed countless times a day. According to a study interruptions occur every 3 minutes in today’s typical work environment and 70% of those get worked on immediately. Through Conode we believe that we are able to reduce with 5 seconds the workflow by which you handle these interruptions. That would save you 4.5 hours per month. So tell me, do you enjoy an early Friday afternoon beer? But in all honesty we believe it is about more than that: if you are a full-time information worker, think about how much time you pass behind a computer struggling with digital productivity. The most typical answer we get is “Too much.”, which is another way of saying there is insatisfaction with the status quo. Our goal is to alleviate these pain points, and make that experience as enjoyable as possible.
Since you came this far in the article, I suggest you to take a few minutes and give Conode a try. Meanwhile try to think about what use cases are interesting for you and, please, tell us. That way we can understand better how Conode should adapt to the digital productivity ecosystem.
To productivity and beyond!