Chris Wiegman Chris Wiegman

Returning To Simple Apps

For years I made doing my job way too hard by simply losing myself in decision paralysis. For every individual function, notes, reminders, browsing, etc I strove to find perfection that simply doesn’t exist.

No more of that. For a while now, instead of focusing on the perfect app, I’ve simply focused on sticking with the app that works best with me. The results have been amazing.

What is the perfect app?

So what really is the perfect app? I think most people would define it as the app that does everything they want exactly the way they want it done. This sounds rather simple but, the truth is, you’ll never find it.

For one, apps are designed for one of a two reasons. Either it’s to sell to an audience in which the developer does user research to find out what features would appeal to the most people, or it is to scratch an itch where the app is developed to fulfill the developer’s need for the perfect app.

On top of why an app was developed we also need to consider both our changing needs and the changes made to an app over time. For the most part what we need an app to do today might not be what we need it to do tomorrow. For example, I spent years (and a lot of money) looking for the perfect to-do list app only to find each one of them fell apart once I really went deep into them. Most of the failures were when a niche feature I had come to rely on was taken away.

In other words, there is no perfect app. The best we can hope for is to find what makes us productive and fulfills our base need regardless of its shortcomings.

Returning to simple apps

Trying to find perfect is exhausting. This has lead me to re-evaluate what I want in the app at all. For example, a to-do list doesn’t have to keep track of everything I would ever do. It has to keep the appropriate lists of reminders. Notes apps don’t need to replace my brain, they need to allow me to take proper notes. The list goes on.

We spend so much time looking for what an app could do that it becomes all too easy to forget what they should do. Simple apps solve that problem.

It doesn’t matter what phone or computer operating system you use, each has simple apps to take care of most of the functions you need that can usually be hooked to your service of choice for syncing and sharing.

What does that look like for me? When I started moving back to Apple hardware earlier this year I was using Nextcloud and a variety of apps for keeping track of my regular data. Nextcloud’s tasks and notes are weak though so I also had Standardnotes and Todoist for their associated function. This lead to a host of accounts and so much lost time setting it all up and keeping it all in sync for apps that, frankly, often didn’t do a great job for any price.

Today I’ve given that up. I’ve moved back to Apple’s native apps for Notes, Reminders, Mail and Calendar. If I was still on Android or another platform I would probably use its equivalents for the same purpose. It still isn’t perfect, but it works. I can take notes, set reminders, share files and more. In other words, the core features I had been looking for are available without issues.

Remember the basics

Of course if you have a real need for a specific feature this won’t work for you but I’ve found that most people don’t have an actual need for the apps they buy. Instead they’re usually buying into the marketing of solutions to problems they don’t have.

I invite you to step back and look at the software on your computer. Why is any given app there? Does it actually solve a need or is it simply adding complexity to your work? It is all too easy to lose ourselves in the search for the perfect app when the app that will serve our needs is already on our machines. Give it a shot, you might find the simplicity is just what you need to get the job done.