How do you manage all these apps in your workflow?

Hello all,

I immersed myself in a batch of MPU, App Stories, and Automators episodes while on a road trip today.

The number of apps the hosts of this shows use is staggering. How in the world does a person keep all these apps straight? Ultimately, as I see it, the most effective method is the one you use consistently.

For example, I felt inspired by David Sparks to give Apple Notes another look. After exploring Notes, I started thinking, couldn’t Day One perform the same note-keeping function?

How do you all manage and separate the various elements of you productivity workflow? Is it necessary to keep so much data across these various services?

I ask because I’m exploring ways to make my own process more efficient, but adding another app for a distinct purpose does not feel efficient to me.

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First, never use an app unless you have a reason to use an app. Playing around, curiosity, and testing are of course exceptions – but even there if using the software for no reason takes up a lot of time, then ignore the temptation.

Personally, I buy a lot of software and work with a lot of software because I now have the time and resources to do so, so it’s more of a hobby than a necessity.

Also remember a lot of bloggers are in the business of cranking out recommendations because that’s part of their revenue model. So, in my opinion, it’s best to stick to reputable sources of info such as this forum, where you can ask and get answers to questions before downloading anything. Also, don’t hesitate to ask developers how their stuff works – a developer who refuses to answer (or reply to ) simple questions is probably one to avoid.

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Totally on board here. Personally, I find that people have a dozen different apps that they use for only one or two functions and ignore the rest of the abilities of those apps. If people would take the time to really get in the weeds with an app and make discovering functionality a fun goal, they very often find that they don’t need several dozen apps just better workflows to use those apps within.

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There was a time when I used many many apps because the use cases and features were so different. But now between the recent improvements to iOS and Shortcuts I use only pretty much the built in apps now all the time. The rest come with friction and sometimes ongoing cost. And they dont have access to all the private APIs. This is why Apple Notes has replaced all text editors and Day One for me, for example. It’s easy to keep straight once there’s only a few buckets. I believe the market for many of these apps is shrinking slowly. All the more reason to be hesitant.

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I like the term CRIMP from the OutlinerSoftware.com site:

CRIMP stands for a make-believe malady called compulsive-reactive information management purchasing.

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Compulsive is a great description of how I feel when I take up an app recommendation. Sometimes I feel like I’m working against myself.

I think @quorm is on to something, start with a reason.

It’s easy to feel left behind when every week our community spokespersons recommend a new app.

And @Aaron_Antcliff, I’m with you, I think rather than fussing around with some many apps, I will deep dive into some talented apps and build methods to make that software fit my needs.

All the media available to us confounds the matter further. I get these guys are supporting their lives and families by making content for us to enjoy. I think the simpler answer is to find the apps that fit your needs and stop worrying about keeping up with others.

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Find the systems and strategies that work for you, then any software that might help.
In the end, all you need might be a notebook, a pen, Calendar and Reminders.

A DayTimer or a Rolodex, and you’re all ready for 1975!

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The apps that keep recurring that I ignore are Day One, DevonThink, Omnifocus and TextExpander.
I’ve also done the todo/reminder juggling act and settled on Notes, so I ignore Things/Todoist and other recommendations.
I’m sure these are all great, I just don’t have a use for them.

As others have said/implied, find a minimal number of apps that help you complete the tasks you actually want todo on your computing device. And stick with them.

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Sometimes the benefit of an app is in some of the nuance of its interface.

For example, @SteveNY uses Notes for all his text, including stuff he would have otherwise used Day One or a text editor for. I couldn’t use Notes in this way, it’s too much of a combination of contexts with no personally satisfactory way of organising and filtering all that stuff. Day one gives me additional contextual data about the setting in which the entry was written/added, and has a calendar-focused approach to accessing your stuff.

Notes is totally capable, but Day One works better for me. You could make Bear work for the same purpose, or just keep plain text files in a folder/tag structure, but it’s often great to have modality that supports the nuances of your task.

For this reason, perhaps counterintuitively, I use the app Bear for longer forms of writing, and not for notes, while it sells itself as a notes app. I do use Notes for notes because it’s last-edited folder structure and sharing features really work for me for that task.

I do however use a minimum number of apps. I make use of almost all the stock apps, and only have a handful of others installed. Discounting of course those super specific apps such as my banks’ apps. I don’t use much in the way of automation apps such as Hazel or TextExpander because I really have no use for them. I can see why for specific people they’re great but for me they’d be a solution in search of a problem.

I’ve never had the compulsion to try alternative e-mail apps, or alternative task managers. Mail is more than capable. I have my e-mail so locked down that I don’t receive much spam (and Apple catch 99.99% of that). I don’t have any newsletters or advertising mails at all. All the email I get is necessary and worth my time. It took a bit of effort to get to that point, but it’s far superior to using a service like SaneBox, I totally get why other people turn to it, but it’s possible for someone sufficiently motivated to make SaneBox redundant, if that expenditure of effort is more valuable to them than the SaneBox subscription.

At work, I have many Outlook mail rules that literally redirect more than half my incoming mail directly to the trash. I’m super not sorry and don’t care one bit if someone feels that I missed their important e-mail.

Wow, I rambled.

I’ve been culling down the number of productivity/Apple/App websites and podcasts in my life.

There’s a point of diminishing returns on all of it. It can be helpful to learn about different methods and tools at first, but after a point, it’s all variations on a theme, none of which will be The Answer.

But to answer the original question: how do I handle all of these apps in my workflow?

Poorly.

And I’d like to simplify.

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This is the bottom line of that whole App overload craziness. It’s similar in other industries, like games or devices. And there is a huge financial impact of that model. My recommendation is very basic. From time to time, clean your device, and install only apps that you need. Don’t try a new app for a function that an existing app you use is doing.

The community here is good and balanced, you can consult them from time to time if you need to ask about app recommendation.