How the quest for productivity can drive you insane

Why i deleted 90% of my apps and feel better than ever

Life in 2016 is busy. Especially since we are living these all-time connected lifes. People write about how their devices make their connected life more anxious than ever.

Digital detonixation evolved from being a hippie-esque thought to an industry. Managers, entrepreneurs and even normal people like you and me start to think about getting back control of their digital life.

Writing about digital detoxination is really complicated since so many different aspects shape our digital life. One of the most influential is without a doubt our smart phone. But what makes it so smart? 
Android, Windows Phone or iOS certainly take their part of helping us conquer our tasks, but what truly defines the way we use our smartphone are the apps we use on a daily basis.

These apps tend to clutter us with notifications, pictures, chats, likes, tweets, mails, feeds, updates, etc, etc. The more apps you have, the more likely they are going to interrupt you when doing whatever you are currently doing.

Don’t get me wrong: notifications and reminders can be a good help, and they have their clear right of existing, but receiving too much of them can be very anxiety-introducing.

In a too long postponed self-experiment i did not just minimize the apps i have installed on my smartphone, i also ordered them in a way thats good for me, meaning my homescreen holds just these apps that actually really help me during my everyday life, plus reducing the amount of apps to one app per use-case.

This was very hard for me.

For a long time i’ve had the opinion that the right tools, the right services will not only support me in completing my tasks, but also put less stress on my mind. So i’ve started a never ending, and pretty expensive, search for that particular toolset that would for work for me.

While i still think this isn’t particularly wrong, there is one problem with these tools: organizing data in a complex tool and maintaining control over this data can feel like work, but you are not achieving anything.

Organizing tasks in a highly complex GTD-software can take quite a lot of time, but doesnt get the actual work done.

Organizing pictures and data in a social-network builds your digital profile but doesnt replace meeting people in person.

You get the idea.

Of course everyone has a different approach to apps and has individual preferences when it comes to apps, but here is my homescreen and a few comments on why i chose these particular apps.


With the release of Ulysses for iOS i finally had a tool where i could write without distraction. This may sound bold, but the main features a lot of writing-apps provide like automation, file-handling, workflow-creation and so on always distracted me into actually using the mentioned features, but kept me from focusing on writing.


After the recent changes made to the Whatsapp Terms of Services, using Whatsapp went from being uncomfortable to unreasonable. This is my alternative of choice.


I love they way meditation can enhance your life and 7Mind is like a german pendant to Headspace. After trying a lot of apps, i found that the simplest ones are those that dont make Meditation feel like work. I am a native german speaker, so i prefer 7Mind.


Memrise teaches you languages in short, memorizable bursts, that make it the best substitute for those game-sessions on the toilet.


This was a real surprise. After years of ignoring the stock iOS podcast app and a deep dive into the bottom of the Podcatcher pit, i’ve been stuck with the plain and basic podcasts app. It gets the work done without paid subscriptions, cloud-podcast-management, smart notifications, and whatever else. And it’s free.


Reading enhances your life. You should be reading books. I prefer iBooks over platforms like Kindle and Thalia since its build into my devices and delivers every function i could possibly need. Again, for free.


The stock iOS is too less accurate for me. Since Dark Sky is still not available in the German AppStore, this is my alternative of choice.


After ditching Facebook four years ago, Twitter rapidly became my favorite social network, mainly because of the way information is exchanged. I am pretty sure many of you agree with me when i say: there is not alternative to Tweetbot, except Tweetbot.


Whenever I’m stressed out i’ll take a couple of minutes and read some of the amazing stories published on this plattform.


Yes, there are a hellalot of mind mapping tools in the AppStore. I’ve tried most of them, and after spending too much money on apps that had just way too many features, i went full circle back to Mindnode. This was a good example of how over-organizing can feel like actually doing work.


Checking my calender and entering events is one of the main use-cases for my iPhone. Fantastical offers the right amount of overview over my appointments and my reminders in a straightforward way: a simple list.


After using Omnifocus for a few years, rotating towards Todoist, Things, Any.Do, 2Do, Trello, Asana and again Omnifocus i discovered one thing:

Using amazing tools to organize your tasks still means you actually have to do them.

My personal, main focus has always been to place reminders on all sorts of things to ease my mind. Because i know that task is taken care of, i can free my mind and move on to concentrate on the task at hand. 
But to achieve this, the Stock iOS Reminders app is currently enough for me, especially since i can share to-do lists. A feature even some paid services don’t provide.


Apple overhauled it’s Notes application quite a bit, and with the moval of my paperless office to being purely file-based, Notes is a more than sufficient tool to capture thoughts, drawings, checklists and websites. And again it’s free and comes preinstalled on all my devices.


I read a lot. Nowadays, a lot of articles are published minute-by-minute and i save everything that im interested into Instapaper. Yes, i know there are decent alternatives, some of them offering more features and i know Instapaper has been acquired by Pocket. But the thing is: Instapaper still does exactly what it’s supposed to do: it provides text, safed from the internet. The UI design is gorgeous and looks like its been designed for this very purpose from the ground up. Most competitors look like childs-play compared to this level of visual appeal. And since i’m using this app for quite the amount of time during my day i chose usability over functions.

For those of you wondering about the second page of my home screen: it mainly holds apps for online-banking, file-managers and apps like amazon. Apps that i dont need on a daily basis, but are still convenient to have on your smart phone.

I’m looking forward to your feedback and maybe next time you start scrolling through the apps of your homescreen you end up thinking more about why you have them installed.

I wish you a wonderful day,


This post appeared first on, on September 23, 2016


I’m not affiliated with the makers of these apps nor am i being payed to advertise these apps. Deciding which app to use is your own responsibility, i am merely describing the though process behind my decisions.

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