My iPhone Home Screen July 2018
My iPhone is a tool that I love to use. As such, I take particular care to make sure that my home screen is set up to work for me. Each month I plan on sharing my home screen with you all as a way to let you know about any new cool apps I’m using, to provide my thoughts on productivity and technological usefulness, as well as to provide an online archive for myself of how I was thinking and working in the past. Ultimately, however, I hope you will find these posts helpful and informative.
So, lets start with the Dock. I’ve got three apps in the Dock: Ulysses, Things, and Fantastical.
Ulysses is a Markdown Text Editor that I use to capture all of my thoughts and ideas, flesh them out, edit them, and then ultimately send them off to this website. It’s an amazing app with powerful features but is designed so well that it gets out of your way to let you write when it’s time to work. I love it.
Things is my task manager of choice. It’s beautifully designed and powerful, just like Ulysses. It lets me easily capture all of the things in my life that need to get done, organize those tasks into projects and areas, and then reminds me when it is time to get to work.
Fantastical is a calendar app with one super power: Natural Language Parsing. This means I can type in “Record Dad College on Tuesday at 8pm” and it will create a calendar event called “Record Dad College” on Tuesday and the event will start at 8pm. I can add location and people as well and Fantastical understands exactly what I want it to do with the information I give it.
I have these three apps in my dock because they are the most important apps on my phone. I want to be able to access them quickly and easily.
A Quick Word on Organization
Outside of the Dock I like to arrange my apps by color as much as possible for two main reasons: I think it looks pretty, and I remember the app's color quicker than I do the app's category or purpose. So instead of grouping all of my ‘productivity’ apps together and arbitrarily deciding what a ‘productivity’ app is, I stick with the apps primary color as the way to organize my phone.
I also like to, as much as possible, order the apps by importance or amount of use from right to left. So in any given row, the apps that I use the most will be on the right side and the apps I use less often will be on the left.
Let’s jump up to the top of the phone, to the green row. Here we’ve got some pretty basic apps: My bank’s app, FaceTime, Phone, and Messages. Nothing fancy here but they help me stay in touch with people and manage my finances.
Here we’ve got two apps and two shortcuts to Workflows that I use to track my time.
Day One is a killer journaling app that I use to track certain online events, important photos, and also as a general purpose journal. Trello used to be my task manager of choice but has since seen itself demoted to tracking Movies and TV Shows I watch as well as the books I read and listen to. At the the end of the year I can look back and see how I spent my free time and adjust accordingly for the coming year (I can already tell you that my TV to reading ratio is way too heavy on the TV side this year).
The two Workflows in this row integrate with Toggl, the app I use to track my time, and as you can guess from their labels, either Start a timer or Stop the active timer. This is a super quick way for me to Start a timer when I’m not at my computer or to check to see if I remembered to stop the timer before I stepped away from my computer (Credit to Federico Viticci for making these).
I was a bit surprised when I realized I had enough purple apps to fill a row on my home screen but with the massive improvements made to Anchor, switching back to the Apple Podcasts app, and getting in on Discord, it makes absolute sense that these apps occupy the center of my home screen.
The Yahoo! Fantasy app is for being really mediocre at fantasy baseball and football. I use Discord to stay in touch with friends and to chat while we play Fortnite or Overwatch.
Anchor is a pretty clever app that essentially puts a Podcast studio in your pocket. I have a lot more to say about Anchor in an upcoming article but if you’re into Podcasts, you need to check it out. There are plenty of great shows on the platform and Anchor allows you to record voice messages to send to your favorite shows so they can put you on the air during one of their episodes! It’s super dope.
Speaking of Podcasts, I recently switched back to the Apple Podcasts app from Overcast. There is absolutely nothing wrong with Overcast, it’s really, really good but there is a part of me that wants to check out as many of Apple’s system apps as possible right now. After the initial adjustment period I can say, it’s a nice app. Easy to use, full system integration...I’m probably going to stick with it.
Some pretty basic but useful apps in this row. I use the ESV app over YouVersion because the ESV is my preferred translation for a number of reasons and because the YouVersion app is just, ew. It stresses me out. I love Apple Music, if you haven’t tried it yet you should check it out if for no other reason than Beats 1 Radio.
The Left Overs
These two apps bother me, well not the apps themselves, but their inability to fit nicely in my color-based organization is annoying. I use Dark Sky because here in Kansas you can easily have 3 seasons in 3 days, so it is very important to know what the day holds before heading out. Slack is a very nice team communication tool that I use for both work and family purposes. I don’t think I could go back to all of the things Slack has replaced in my life.
So that’s a quick overview of my home screen this month. In future months I won’t go over each app because that would be redundant but I will highlight any changes to organization or to apps that have left or moved on to my home screen.
App of the month
I’ll have a full in-depth review of Things in the near future but I wanted to highlight it here because there is nothing more convenient than having a task manager that can handle anything you throw at it. Things allows you to organize your tasks by project or area, by due date (today, upcoming, someday), you can add notes and checklists to a task, you can set a start date and and end date, and so much more.
On top of that Things is beautifully designed and it is a joy to use. Seriously, sometimes I find my self looking through the app for something to do just because I enjoy interacting with it. Things is powerful enough to handle your GTD workflow and yet simple enough to just be a pretty task list. However you want to get stuff done, Things is a great option.
If you have any questions, suggestions, or just want to say hi you can find me on Twitter.