If you are a smartphone user, particularly and iOS or Android user, you are faced with the choice of hundreds of thousands of applications. Most of these apps promise that they are the best at something, or the easiest to use, or the most beloved, or whatever. But what I have tend to find is that most apps are junk and a waste of your time.

Yep, that’s right. There are many more applications that are pure junk than are golden and even more that are a total waste of your limited, use-to-be productive time. So, under this premise there are only a few applications that you both need and are worth a damn.

I remember getting my first phone with apps several years ago and downloading and trying everything that I could. It was fun at first, but then got in my way of being productive and became a real nuisance. This may not be the case for everyone, but I found that going “minimal” in my app selection is a must and since taking this step I have been much more productive and less “finicky” during my day.

Here is how you too can go on an app diet and start using your phone instead of it using you:

Find out exactly what you need your device for

This is the primary step in trying to figure out what apps you need and what apps you don’t. What do you need your phone for in the first place? Just making calls, email, calendaring, and messaging? Then why do you have every variant of Angry Birds taking up space and time on your device?

This is where you decide exactly what your device should and shouldn’t be used for.

Identify awesome apps that fill the needs of your device

Now that you know what your devce is and what it isn’t you have to find apps that bring that idea to reality. At Lifehack we have featured some of the best productivity apps for iOS and going through lists like those here and elsewhere can really help you narrow down your choices.

The best way to find the apps that suit your needs is to search the web for them, see what many people suggest and use, and then give them a try to see if they fit.

Awesome apps cost money, so pay the piper

I know. Shocking, right? Great apps are made by great developers and tend to cost money. If you are a “I only download free apps” kind of guy or gal (which tend to be Android users more often than iOS users) then you probably can settle for apps that really are sub-par to their paid counterparts.

In my experience and many others, there aren’t too many free apps that are better or even equivalent in form and function than their paid counterparts.

Personal apps defined

So, what I have done is limited myself to a small selection of applications. Mostly to keep my phone out of my hair and allow it to be used for productive means.

Like I said above, many people don’t have a problem with having tons of games and such on their phones, but trust me, I have seen many people at work and school doing more Facebooking than pure work. That is why, on my iPhone games had to go.

I’ve limited myself to 15 apps plus the stock iOS apps that came with my iPhone. This is a pretty tough exercise to do, but here are my picks:

  1. Reeder
  2. TuneIn Radio Pro
  3. Mog
  4. OmniFocus
  5. Instapaper
  6. Kindle
  7. Outliner
  8. Notesy
  9. IMDB (fastest way to shut down a co-worker on some movie related trivias)
  10. You Need a Budget
  11. Dropbox
  12. 1Password
  13. Wikipanion
  14. Tweetbot
  15. Runkeeper

I know, I know. You may be saying, “I thought that you were all about being productive and cutting out things like Twitter, Mr. Minimal App Diet Man.” Well, yes that is true sort of, but I use Twitter to keep abreast of things in my industry and of course to share things myself. I consider it a guilty pleasure on my device and feel that it hasn’t interrupted my work flow like games or crappy apps have in the past. So it will stay for now.

Challenge yourself

So here is the deal. If you are feeling bogged down by your personal device because of the crazy 100 apps you have installed, take the time and identify what this device is actually for and better yet, what it isn’t for. This can help you narrow down your app selections so your device can stay out of the way of you being productive.

And hey, why don’t you list the 15 apps (other than stock apps that shipped with your phone) that you absolutely without any doubt must have to get your work and life done below?

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