Too Many Apps and Not Enough Productivity
Time to declutter your apps and save your sanity.
Smartphones are so much more now than a simple tool to make a phone call. We have more computing power in our pocket now than NASA had in all those rooms full of servers used to send man to the moon. So, the big question is, what are we planning to use them for? Are they serving us well, or are we serving them?
I read a review online this week of a new smartphone. The reviewer said he would pay more for the device if it did NOT place phone calls! He felt we could be more efficient without the bother of talking to another person. That was a surprise! I doubt I will ever adopt this philosophy, but it shows how different we all are in what we expect from our devices and the apps we install on them.
One of the most frequent questions I am asked by clients when we work on digital organization is: “Is there an app for that?”
Here are recent app totals.
Google Play 2.8 Million
Apple App Store 2.21 Million
Windows Web Store 800 K
Amazon App Store 432 K
These four sources total over 6.4 million choices!
I think we have the answer to the question, “is there an app for that?”
6.4 million choices! No wonder we have problems deciding on specific tools and sticking with our choices.
Every day I see discussions in the groups I belong to asking for recommendations about which app to use. These discussions always bring out tools I have never used or even heard of before. They will all do “that one thing” you are looking for, but which one is right for you? Do these discussions send me straight to the app store? Maybe, maybe not, we’ll talk about that more in a minute. I would bet that if you looked at your smartphone right now, you would see screens and screens full of apps. Some of you will even have several screens with folders containing still more apps. The average person has over 80 apps on their smartphone; They used nine apps per day and thirty different apps per month. I am sure there are many other reasons we have so many apps. How many apps do you have on your devices you never use, or you used in the past, but gave up on long ago? They are still there on your devices. Some of them have important information in them, so you are hesitant to delete. When you need information, can you remember where it is? Can you find that information in seconds?
I don’t know about you, but here is what used to happen to me. I’d start looking for something, and by the time I’d click, scroll, and scan the results, I forgot what I was looking for! Sound familiar? Who has the time to check multiple places for important information?
So, what to do with all those other apps?
- You tried them and didn't like them. Download the information from apps you no longer use, then delete them.
- Apple users can offload the apps they don't use. Offloaded apps are no longer seen on your devices. Reinstall them later if you need them, and it will restore your data. This is an excellent step for someone who isn't sure about deleting, yet. The data is preserved and when you reinstall the app, all your data will still be available.
- Move the apps you seldom use off your home screen.
- Next sort your apps into groups. Put the superstars front and center and move the ones you use less frequently away from the primary screens you use. There are many options for grouping tools: by vendor (Apple, Microsoft, Google), by function: photo related, video related, used for work, personal, social media, entertainment and many others. Just be sure groups are meaningful to you.
- Don't like the idea of grouping apps? That's OK. Try learning to use the search function on your device. Swipe, type, and go to the app. Search is great, but you will need to remember the names of all your apps. Both options are alternatives to wasting time scrolling through pages full of apps.
Why do we have so many apps?
Recommended by a training program they attended
A friend or family member recommendation
Found when browsing the app store
Downloaded after seeing an Ad for the app on social media
Seen in the side panel of a web page they visited
Featured on TV
Presented during a YouTube video
In the results of a search on Google
Offered for FREE or a free trial
Downloaded because of FOMO; Fear of missing out
Everyone is talking about this app
Bright shiny object syndrome. We want the newest, shiniest, "the best", even if it is not best for our needs.
Get Clear About What You Need
Understanding what you need starts with your vision. How does the smartphone of your dreams function? What activities can you use it for effectively? How many screens are there? Which apps are on the home screen? Do you use widgets or not? Are apps stored with related apps in folders? Which tools deserve a space on the dock? What other questions do you have that will help you create your vision?
What are you using your Smartphone for?
Browsing the Internet
Calendar / Scheduling
Contact Relationship Management
Creating documents, spreadsheets, or slides
Entertainment: Internet radio, TV, Streaming Services for Movies and TV
News / Weather
Utilities: calculator, clock, timer, stopwatch, magnifier
Video meetings, video chats
Selecting the best tools for you
Create a list of the tools you have now and what you use them for. Highlight your key tools; the ones you use every day. Now, ask, what is missing from your vision of the best Smartphone experience? Do any of the tools you already own offer the function you are looking for? Many times, it may be a matter of answering this one question. If the answer is no, then do a comparison of the tools you are considering with websites like Capterra.com, G2.com, or trustradius.com. These sites let you compare tools side by side; usually 4 at a time. See their pricing models, features, rating scores, and read customer reviews. Do these apps work with the tools you already have? Can you connect them to your other tools? Once you have this information, visit the websites for the front runners and watch some videos, or read the knowledge base articles. This will help you make a more informed decision. Take the time to do your research before adding the app to your collection.
Once you decide on a tool, what's next?
Group it with your other key tools in a way that is meaningful to you. Make it easy to find and to use. Save it to a home screen for easy access. Learn as much as you can about what it does and how it works. Give yourself time to learn the tool. Stop switching to different apps without taking time to get comfortable with what you have. Make a commitment to use the app and promise yourself you will not search again for a few months. Yes, this is a challenge, but unless you learn how to use your tools, you will be right back in the app store, looking for the PERFECT tool, again!
Remember this; there are NO perfect tools! However, you will still have many great choices available. We all want tools that work in our unique way of processing information. You may not always have a choice of the tools you use, but when you do, making a thoughtful choice, learning as much as possible about the tool, and giving yourself time to make them your own are great ways to begin.
If you need to use tools chosen by your company, it is still important to learn as much as possible to make the tool successful in your system.