Many people see smartphone apps as the end-all be-all of their productivity challenges.
If I download this app and that app, maybe I’ll finally get my to-do list sorted out. Maybe I’ll even look at it after I create it. Wouldn’t that be something?
But, unfortunately, most of us go about this the wrong way: downloading the wrong apps and organizing them the wrong way. So to help you be more productive, let’s address the elephant in the room.
Finding an efficient way to organize your apps is almost as important as downloading the apps themselves. For this reason, organizing your apps should be the very first thing you consider, well before you get lost in the black hole that is the app store.
If you install a new calendar, file-sharing app, or project management tool, you need to keep these items in plain view, making you more prone to actually use them. Widgets can be effective but these slow down your phone and clog up valuable real estate on your home screen. Instead, organize your apps into folders, separating them by type—money, projects, tools, coupons, games, social, etc.
If you want your home screen free of clutter, then situate these folders on the screen immediately to the left or right of your home screen. Organizing your apps into folders will ultimately help you maneuver through apps quickly and with little effort. No more wasting time scrolling through an unorganized mess of four pages of apps.
There are other ways to separate your apps as well. For example, Yahoo offers a customizable home screen layout called Yahoo Aviate Launcher. In one swipe, your apps are auto-categorized, and with another swipe, they’re alphabetized. Swipe up to see your “Quick Contacts” and swipe left to view customizable cards and information.
When downloading apps, you need to keep three factors in mind: usable, reasonable, and exclusive. These three factors are not meant to control your app experience but to manage it, because when we digitally walk into an app store, we’re too easily swayed by the “Ooh shiny” syndrome. This syndrome causes us to download one app after the other after the other for no other reason than just to download it. While this pattern may appear harmless, all it will really do is clog up your phone and make it harder for you to find and use the apps that can actually keep you productive and focused.
Usable: Will you use this app? For what purpose? Is this a legitimate purpose? Did you read the entire description, reviews included? Did you browse alternatives before stumbling upon this app?
Reasonable: Is it reasonable to conclude that you will actually use this app for the intended purpose? Is the app laid out in a fashion that is easy to use and aesthetically pleasing?
Exclusive: Do you already have an app that serves this same purpose? If yes, why do you need this app in particular? Is it better than the app you already have installed? Will you delete the other app if you download this one?
Keep these three factors in mind at all times when browsing and installing new apps, and your overall experience with smartphone applications should be one that is much more productive, efficient, and realistic. Just don’t forget to organize them! You don’t want all that hard work of ‘tapping to install’ to go to waste, do you?