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Focus Regained(?)

While I love my iPhone SE and iPad Mini 4, one thing I don’t love is the time I spend on those devices, and in particular the time spent procrastinating.

This past week I started cutting down the number of apps I have on both devices.

For starters, no more mobile games. Even ones like Good Sudoku, Knotword and I Love Hue which don’t actively try to hold my attention.

I’ve removed NetNewsWire and Micro.blog from both devices, albeit with some reluctance. Again, I’ve found myself opening those when I could have been doing other things. I have them on the Mac, and if I’m honest I spend less time using them on there.

Removing those meant that DEVONthink To Go left, as I had that app installed to capture articles for later reading and processing.

On the iPad, I’ve removed email, reminders, calendars, and contacts. It’s not that I don’t need them — they remain on my iPhone — but that I don’t need them on a device that I have at my bedside, while the iPhone is face-down at my desk overnight.

I’ve kept Discord on my iPhone, for the simple reason that the community radio station I do work for uses that to organise show schedules and handle any change requests and other issues, and if my broadband goes out that’s my way of letting them know I won’t be able to broadcast for a while.

On both devices, I’m keeping the apps that I want to use, and use more: Diarly, iA Writer and Zavala. These work best on the iPad, which is easier to type on thanks to its larger screen, but it’s handy to jot things down on the iPhone as they come to me. The other must-have apps common to both devices are those for radio, podcast and streams, plus Brainwave Studio which I use to help me get to sleep at night.

It has been a few days since I finalised the new setups on both devices, and thus far it is working as I’d hoped. When I wake up in the morning I put on a radio stream and start a new day’s entry in Diarly, then do exercises before breakfast. I can quickly check email and Discord on the iPhone while having breakfast, but don’t do full triage on those (and NetNewsWire) until I’m washed and dressed and have a mug of tea ready beside me. :) At night, I’ll update my journal on the iPad before turning on Brainwave Studio to help me drift off to sleep.

I know that I’ll be tempted to reinstall a game or two if I hit a rut, but I need to resist that urge as much as possible. Writing and journalling are a much better way of getting those frustrations out of my head.

There’s one time when I purposefully move an activity off the Mac and onto my iPad — when I want to listen to a Mixcloud stream, I’ll send the link to the iPad via AirDrop and it’ll open automatically in the Mixcloud app on that device.

I’m not sure how long this new setup will last. The iPad Mini 4 will be left stuck on iPadOS 15 this autumn, but I’m hopeful that all the apps I have on it will continue to run for the foreseeable future. The one question-mark is Brainwave Studio, which hasn’t had any updates in a long time, but if that stops working I can try other binaural-beat apps.

(Theoretically, I could do use the iPhone SE to do all the functions I’m using the iPad Mini for, but I’m wary of having the phone by my bedside tempting me to look at email or Discord if I wake up during the night.)

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