Advertising
Advertising

Why and How I Went on an App Diet

Why and How I Went on an App Diet

    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.

    Advertising

    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?

    Advertising

    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.

    Advertising

    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.

    Advertising

    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?

    More by this author

    CM Smith

    A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

    Design Is Important: How To Fail At Blogging 7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively 6 Unexpected Ways Journaling Every Day Will Make Your Life Better Why Getting Things Done is the Best Productivity System For You How to Beat Procrastination: 29 Ways to Beat It Once and for All To Automate or not to Automate Your Personal Productivity System

    Trending in Technology

    1 7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively 2 7 Clever Goal Tracker Apps to Make the Most of Your Business in 2019 3 10 Smartest Productivity Software to Improve Your Work Performance 4 18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools (2019 Updated) 5 16 Less Known Gmail Hacks That Will Super Boost Your Productivity

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on February 15, 2019

    7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

    7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

    Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

    Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

    Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

    So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

    Joe’s Goals

    Advertising

       

      Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

      Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

      Daytum

        Daytum

        is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

        Advertising

        Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

        Excel or Numbers

          If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

          What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

          Evernote

          Advertising

            I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

            Evernote is free with a premium version available.

            Access or Bento

              If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

              Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

              Advertising

              You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

              Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

              All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

              Conclusion

              I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

              What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

              Read Next