Feeling app overwhelm

After trying another to do app that didn’t fit I’m back to using Apple apps like calendar and reminders and trying to calm it down and bring some simplicity to my productivity system.

Anyone else experienced this and declared app bankruptcy?

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Not really. If you’re talking iOS Readdle Calendars 5 is so much better than the stock calendar for me, and there are so many better alternatives to Reminders - from supersets that use Apple’s Reminders plumbing (like Memento [review here]) to list apps that use Siri/Reminders to automatically import into themselves.

There are better mail apps, more full-featured notes apps (even though I use Notes too, for some things), much better podcast apps, better camera apps (though not available with a swipe from the lock screen), Kindle still has advantages in organization (and pricing), Apple Contacts is bare bones and barely updated in years, there are much better apps that utilize Health data, Google Maps generally is superior still after all these years, Weather is anemic compared to the competition, so is Calculator, etc etc.

On my phone I probably use Messages, Settings, Phone (but I also use Google Voice), Camera, Home, and occasionally Notes. That’s about it for stock apps.


I have a virtual pile of apps I’ve tried and dismissed, just as I have a literal pile of notebooks and planners I’ve tried and dismissed.
While it can be expensive and lead to procrastination, I don’t think it’s always a bad thing. I think of it as trying to hone our craft. Sometimes we just realize that what we’re doing is hard. Apps can let us know what we need to do, but they often don’t make the doing any more easy.


With calendar and reminders: not really! I use Fantastical and Things. But… I use Apple’s calendar app, too. I do not use Apple’s reminder app.

But I get what you are saying. Same here with email clients. I have tried Spark and many others and I keep coming back to Apple Mail. :slight_smile:

And I switched back from Overcast to Apple’s Podcast app several months ago. The app has improved a lot and I really like the ease of use in combination with my two HomePods.

Be it as it may, many Apple stock apps are very good options and I have caught myself repeatedly trying to find a good app for a special purpose just to realize afterwards that I already have one installed on my device - provided by Apple.

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I really don’t use many Apple apps any more. I find them increasingly dumbed down or having slightly unintuitive behavior. But every app hits different people differently, so there really is no right or wrong. I have been using BusyCal and BusyContact for a couple of years and have been happy. I have been using Todoist for four or five years and haven’t felt a need to change. For mail I used Postbox for many years — but recently switched to Airmail. Postbox was fine and I liked the features but found that it was eating up more CPU that I thought it should. Airmail is much lighter in this respect.

The one absolute in my mind is iTunes. I hate it. :slight_smile: I actually stopped listening to music because I didn’t want to open iTunes (this wasn’t conscious, but looking back I realize that it was true). But as of last week I have completely moved all of my music over to my Plex server and just run Plex on my iOS devices.

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I don’t like the term app bankruptcy, but I do use Apple’s stock apps unless there is a strong reason not to. The advantage I see in them over other apps is they seem to need less maintenance.
In my experience (maybe it’s me…) other to-do apps and calendar apps have had wierd sync issues occasionally, for example.

If Apple’s apps are good enough, then good enough is best for me.


Been getting a lot of mileage out of Notes as a personal knowledge base. Main downside is the export isn’t very good. But for just random text with a few images, it works.


Mac: I use Fantastical and Things. And I use stock Notes.app for my note taking which I find is pretty complete.

iPhone: I use stock Calendar app instead because the view which I like, which is the one-day that shows which block of time I am booked, is not available in Fantastical, unless you turn the phone around. I also use Things and Notes.app

But I do agree that sometimes, there are just too many to choose and I have to refrain myself from trying out other apps. There’s tons of good recommendation here on Drafts, Bear and Day One which thankfully I don’t feel like trying. It’s not easy, but I can’t imagine migrating all my notes all over the place.

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For a long time, I used anything but Apple apps. I have recently gone back to Mail, albeit with a few add-ons. Since I discovered GoodTask, which I call a GUI for Reminders, I’ve only been using that as a task manager and todo app. Reminders has such great integration with the Apple system, including Siri and Shortcuts, and GoodTask makes it a delight to use.

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I’ll check out GoodTask

I used GoodTask for a short while. It uses the Reminders framework, while adding functionality like tags, but it does it by hiding its metadata (in a clever way) inside reminders. It can get deep and geeky pretty quickly, which turned me off.

I preferred using Memento, which I linked to earlier and which similarly invokes iOS Reminders APIs, as to me it looks like what Reminders should have looked like if Apple has spent a little more time on it. I think it’s a bargain at $2.99


There’s nothing wrong with trying out new apps - MPU and its guests do this for a living kind of. But you should ask yourself if the app makes your life easier, especially considering its cost and your needs.

Most of MPU guests and its hosts work by themselves in multiple projects or ventures at once. They’re busy and in full control of their workday. I work 9-5 in one office job with a boss that helps me manage my tasks. I have very different needs from them!


I think it helps me to stop thinking that I’m selecting the app I will use forever. If I pay $5 or go through setup for an app that gets me unstuck or provides clarity for a day or a couple weeks and then move on, that’s okay with me. Sometimes it’s just nice to see the same information in a new look.


Agreement with many of the observations above. I’ve spent money and more importantly time in experimenting with programs/apps. I have found many non-Apple apps that meet my needs. They help create a better working environment.

However, once or twice… after surveying the field… I cut the endless pursuit of new, different, better. I use what I’ve got — so text, WordPress, calendar, shelf apps, … are fixed. (I avoid reading about all the wonderful new choices — I try anyway.)

For now, no list of better than Apple other than noting I have found many apps that I prefer.

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I’ve been feeling a lot of this lately. I’ve gone back to using a lot of the stock apps, but in the case of tasks, I’ve gone back to GoodTask. There are a myriad of reasons for me to have done this, and I haven’t fully put them down, so I won’t share them just as yet.

But the more I think on this, I go back to what I wrote in my Rethinking Reminders post. What I really want to see going forward is Apple to provide a better Reminders/Notes/Calendar service so that more apps could utilize the data in their own ways. Doing so would allow other apps to adopt something like Reminders as a service, and therefore would make the process of switching easier on everyone.

Even though I’m a big believer in purging your task system when making a move from time to time, I also know that is a big hurdle to switching anything. Having a way to tap into the native options of iOS / macOS would be welcome for me.

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Here’s an article on GoodTask that just came in a message. No, I have no connection with the app. I just think it does everything possible in an integration with Reminders, and it does it well.

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I didn’t choose the app life; the app life chose me. So, I did try simplifying, but I think I just like learning new apps and new ways of doing things.

For text alone I use all these apps (and this doesn’t include things like textexpander):

  • NoteBooks - temp notes that I don’t mind losing (e.g., just need these for a meeting)
  • Apple Notes (notes I want to keep around for a while)
  • DayOne (journaling)
  • Microsoft Word (research pubs)
  • Ulysses (drafts of research pubs and blogging)
  • Drafts (one off messages/drafts/emails)
  • IA writer (??? pretty much same thing as Drafts, note to self need to delete)
  • Grammarly (emails letters of recs and things that should have no typos)
  • Nisus writer and BBEdit (to do mass editing of transcripts with regex)

Yes. Busted. I’m using an old version of omnifocus on an iMac, iPhone, iPad. I get frustrated as I never really do a weekly review, to keep things fresh. Then, I end up putting relevant stuff in Taskpaper. When that gets stale, I put stuff in reminders. Now I’m ready to go minimal, and use paper and pen, or pencil. And then start the cycle all over again. Messy. I don’t think an app is going to save me. It’s reviewing it all, and keeping things I care about in a fresh and updated system. I guess there’s nothing wrong with changing. But moving stuff around is a distraction for me. Keeps me from doing what I think I want to do. Maybe, just maybe, that stuff I put in apps and note books is stuff that needs out of my head. Life is short. What really needs doing?

Thanks to the original poster. I was just looking at all of this after listening to the most recent GTD podcast. Ready for a GTD reboot!


Thanks for all the comments and suggestions. Ended up using GoodTask.

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I recently moved to GoodTask from Omnifocus, due to the voice commands being so unreliable (I couldn’t it them to add to Omnifocus most times I tried). Also, there’s the fact I needed to be able to add tasks when just using my cellular watch, especially as I do a lot of my thinking while out walking and leaving my phone helps a lot in disconnecting and letting me really think.

I have been very pleasantly surprised with how good it is. One bonus has been seeing all my tasks also appearing in my Fantastical calendar and the fact that my shared task lists are now all in the same place as my personal ones. The tasks also appear on my Siri watch face which is just awesome.

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