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I’ve recently invested some time to reconfigure and simplify my phone’s home screen. Last autumn I realized I spend a lot of time in apps just because they appear directly on the front screen. I got dragged into them without even knowing it. I wanted to design around this and create some breathing room. So when I pick up my phone now it looks like this:


Optimizing for input

It feels good. Not a lot of attention grabbers there. I decided to keep only my three most important apps for easy access in the dock. And I wanted these apps to provide me the support that I need day to day. I’ve made the distinction in the past between consumer driven apps and producer driven apps. And these three are definitely the latter. I want my phone to be optimized for input.

1. Capture thoughts, ideas, tasks in Drafts

Drafts is the heart of my thinking. It’s a wonderful little note-taking app that provides a clean sheet every time it’s opened. I can put down my thoughts straight away, there is no need to think about where I should put it. It doesn’t require any organization upfront so there is very little friction.

Once every evening I sit down to empty the Drafts inbox and put things where they belong (or discard them if they don’t make sense anymore.)

2. All tasks in Things

Things is my task manager of choice. Mainly because of its magnificent user experience. The UI is clean and aesthetically very beautiful. It feels great to know that it takes care of all the important things I need to do. And it only shows me the relevant things I need to be aware of as well.

My process is usually to enter a todo into Drafts the moment I come to think of it, and then transfer it in the evening when I go through and empty the Drafts inbox.

3. Time relevant reminders into Due

Drafts and Things together makes up the main bulk of where I want to intentionally spend time on my phone. But there is a third app that serves a very specific purpose: time sensitive tasks. That’s where Due comes in. It’s for all the nitty-gritty details of everyday life.

  • Remember to empty the laundry machine in an hour? Put it in Due.
  • Remember to brush teeth half an hour after lunch? Put it in Due.
  • Remember to pick up milk after work? Put it in Due.

I don’t want to put irrelevant things like these into my task manager, but I do want to get bugged about it at the right time.

Due really shines at this. The power lies in that it keeps bugging me every five minutes indefinitely if I don’t take action. When I get notified to empty that laundry machine I may be in the middle of something else, so I can always snooze it if it’s not relevant for the moment. But it’s hard to miss it because will again keep coming back to remind me of it every five minutes. It’s a very flexible system.

Putting it all together

These three small apps makes up a really powerful system. The redesign helped me with a more intentional and focused use of my phone. So when I reach for my phone for something else that just popped into mind (checking email, checking weather, checking something on the internet,) and I’m faced with a blank screen, it’s a gentle reminder to put it back in the pocket and keep on with what I was doing.

  1. Drafts –
  2. Due –
  3. Things –