Optimizing your personal IT portfolio: iPhone Edition

I’m sure I have a lot of company as a member of the group of people whose iPhone has at one time or another spanned 7 or more panes with 50+ applications vying for your attention. My app sprawl was magnificent, spanning everything from YouTube to aWolframAlpha. There were patches of order where I’d made a half-hearted attempt to group things during a spurt of motivation on a metro trip or other brief spasm of organizational instinct. After spending a year flipping four screens deep to open Facebook, I knew I had a problem. I was losing time. 10 seconds here and there add up for today’s over caffeinated, multi-tasking modern worker.

So before I get into how I get things organized here are a few apps that I think every knowledge worker should have at their fingertips:

  • Voice memo- The Voice memo app is a classic for good reason. It enables you to take clear voice notes on the go, play them back, and send/share them easily, Its simplicity and usefulness will never go out of style.
  • RowmotePro- This app is great for giving presentations among other things. It is the ultimate controller for home stereo, mobile presentation, or casual video viewing with all the simplicity of the Mac’s remote control but with the added bonus of wireless mouse and keyboard capabilities.
  • Hootsuite- Hootsuite is a social media necessity. It is a one stop shop for you to manage all your social media accounts from Facebook to Foursquare. You can schedule messages for most impact, update profiles, and analyze data analytics of traffic through your profiles. This app is an invaluable asset in today’s social media driven world.
  • TurboScan- This app allows the on the go executive to turn his phone into a multi-page scanner and take pictures of documents, receipts, notes, whiteboards, and other text. This app then allows you to store or email them as multi-page PDF or JPEG files.
  • OmniFocus- This app is designed to keep in line with the Getting Things Donesystem. It takes your goals and tasks and puts them in an easy to access system and creates start and due dates along with time estimates that it keeps track of for you. It is easy to operate and can simply filter and sort actions with the click of a button. Nothing organizes a busy life better or faster than OmniFocus. So check out these apps if you are looking for answers to streamlining your handheld tech folders.

In a fit of organizational anxiety spurred by the departure of the holidays and the onset of the New Year I decided to stop turning the screens to my apps. I also swore off buying another app that would provide the silver bullet and organize them for me. I was determined to do it myself—and I did. In a little over 45 minutes I was able to get everything I use daily onto the first screen with the really important ones sitting proudly one click from usage and the rest settled neatly into the iPhone’s built in folders.

screen 1

Screen 1 is all buttons

I was actually a little surprised about how much thought I eventually put into it, but I thought it was a decent example of how portfolio thinking and system thinking can help make the world a better place. I started with the Dock and the four things I need access to no matter what screen I’m viewing. On the first screen I kept the entire first screen folder free with the idea of maximizing one click-ability My thinking is that over time I’ll promote apps to and from screen 1 to in folders on screen 2.

Screen 2

Screen 2 is folder central

On Screen 2 its folder city, including Photography, Utilities, Business, Transportation, Productivity, Info, News, iPhone (yep, it has its own apps folder), Shopping, Social 1 & Social 2 (sadly they could not all be contained one folder), Arcade 1 & Arcade 2 (3 kids means I have every edition of Angry Birds and all the spin-offs).

Screen 3

Screen 3 is everything else.

Screen 3 is the junk food of my phone. It should probably get deleted, never gets opened but for some reason I just can’t bring myself to get rid of it.

It will take a long time to “earn back the 45 minutes or so that it took me to conquer my phone, but I’m glad I took the time. I deleted quite a few apps that I never use anymore and it was fun to go through my iPhone portfolio as my personal IT portfolio management effort. When was the last time you took a hard look at the tools you are using to manage your life on the go? With more and more of our work being done while mobile looking at the types of work you do while on the move and finding great tools can really change your personal productivity. I think of little tools like Omnifocus that I use every day to stay organized and I wonder how I did it before.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter@jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at [email protected]

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