I’ve been using Apple Reminders on and off for a couple of months now quite happily but the latest iOS update (for me at least) has broken the UI.
You’ll see from this image that it shows I have 0 items due today, which isn’t correct. I have 3 things due today. The widget shows it and also the today view when I drill down into it but at this top level, it shows me 0.
This year I really wanted to try to be more intentional about how I’m using my technology. The first step was to read through Cal Newport’s book on the subject.
I’m in the process of working through a digital declutter, where I’m taking breaks from various activities that have been time sucks or raised my anxiety. I’m also figuring out what my connection with technology is going forward.
For me so far it’s meant spending more time in solitude. What I mean here is more time with my thoughts, not spending time on my own. By dropping habits such as constantly checking Twitter or having an AirPod in my ear listening to something I’m having time being bored. This is essential to letting your brain calm down and process. It also gives you more time to get clarity around your creative projects or life goals.
I’m finding that although I’m only 9 days into this process I’m already finding it a little easier to focus. I’m also a little more relaxed in general. Spending all day working in IT also means I’m on a screen less in the evenings, not much to be honest but less than before.
For me this is what I’ve done
No newsfeed, not checking mainstream news
No podcasts that annoy or bore me, it’s amazing the ones you’ll listen to out of habit. I’m down to maybe 2 podcasts now from 10
No social media on my iPhone, well no social media full stop right now
When I use my iPhone or laptop it’s intentional. Like writing this post or checking the weather
That’s where I am right now, figuring this whole thing out but I’d definitely recommend trying this and seeing how it improves your day, time for projects or general mood.
I’ve been a Todoist user on and off for years now and I’m also part of the affiliate program but I’ve been trying other apps lately. I’ve tried Reminders, Things and Omnifocus.
In the end though whilst I do have my problems with Todoist I keep coming back.
Here’s some of what I do like
Sync is rock solid
Repeating reminders are easy to implement with natural language parsing and they are easy to see
The app doesn’t clutter itself with things like timers or habits
The Home Screen widget is reliable at updating when the app is updated
It adheres to the accessibility settings of my device
It’s a dedicated team. With something like Reminders I feel that if I have bugs I’ll never have them resolved and the app will stagnate for years now it’s had a bit of an overhaul. Apple don’t have a dedicated Reminders development team to keep it up to date and move it forward
Here’s what I don’t like
Cannot set the theme of the widget independently of the app. I like a light mode in the app but want a dark mode on the widget
I’d like to see Calendar integration into the today and upcoming views like Things 3 does
Creating sub projects is still a little fiddly
So with any to do app you pick the one that annoys you the least, for me it’s Todoist right now. What are you using?
My dock switches around a bit over the course of a month but this year I’m trying to calm things down a bit and stick to a setup.
With this in mind I switched up my dock to cover my most used apps.
Messages: probably my most used app. Lots of iOS within my friends but I do also use Signal for those on other platforms.
Things 3: I’m slowly switching over from Todoist and want to give Things another try. I love the widget and today view with calendar integration. I do still wish that the developer would allow me to increase the font though.
Music: After a brief stint with Spotify I’m back and happy with Apple Music. I like the UI and lack of having podcasts thrown in my face every time I load the app
Camera: I like having quick access to the camera in my dock. It’s been there for years for me and it’s muscle memory at this point.
I’ve been taking things back to basics a little with my productivity. I’ve installed Fantastical (mainly to use it’s widgets) and Things 3. I’m trying not to overthink and spend any time messing with productivity apps.
I’m not even creating projects anymore to categorise by type I.e. home, finances etc. Things like paying bills and putting bins out just go into the inbox and show up when they are ready in ‘today’.
Coming into 2022 I’ll be creating projects in Things for actual projects like this blog or other creative outlets, the plan is to keep it simple.
I’m not overthinking my productivity apps this year. I’m going to just use the basic to remember to do stuff.
I’ve felt overwhelmed with my todo setup using Todoist lately and at the end of the year I’ve stopped even checking it. I’ve decided to not worry about my personal projects and just get the basics (things like remembering to pay a bill or put the bins out). Whilst I don’t enjoy how small the font is on Things 3, I do like it’s simplicity. I’m also trying to ignore how it displays repeating reminders and just get on with using it.
I’ve started by creating 3 areas that I want to track – family, me and creative projects I’ll be working on this year.
At the moment I’m entering either a reminder about a project or just time sensitive items I need to remember like putting the bins out every Thursday. I’m not even looking at my other task manager, I’m adding to Things as I think of them.
I’m sure I’m going to forget some stuff early on but by taking it back to zero and building up slowly I’m hoping it’ll calm down the overwhelm.
When setting up my Todo system I’ve always wrestled with adding a due time so that a reminder pops up. I’ve preferred to have a due date so that I can keep a list of items due today but not have notifications with times popping up all over the place.
But, I’m starting to see that being more ridged with forcing myself to have a due time might be the way to go.
I want a simpler setup and having a widget isn’t enough for me to remember the things I need to do in a day. It used to be but as I’ve gotten older and I have more on my plate I’m just forgetting to do things sat in my today list.
I’m also trying to use my iPhone less and without something like an Apple Watch with my list to always be in my face with what I want to do I’m just not keeping on top of things.
I’d recommend starting off with a due time for everything to start with, it’s what I’m going to do now I’m simplifying my setup.
Sometimes you go looking for that perfect app and you end up back to the iOS apps that came with your iPhone. That’s what often happens for me with notes. I try apps like Notion, Obsidian and Craft and whilst I appreciate their use case I end up getting overwhelmed and come back to Apple Notes.
Figuring outwhatyouwant from a Notes app
The first thing for me at least is to figure out what I want
Quick note taking
Privacy at the core
Ability to add images
Good support through iOS for share sheet integration
What third party options didn’t work out for me?
Why Apple Notes sticks for me
In my daily use I don’t keep a massive knowledge base. I use Notes for thoughts on appointments I have, quick save of recipes, saving reference materials like a warranty and general quick thoughts. In my testing Apple notes fits my requirements detailed above. It’s quick to take a note, sync is good, I can use tables, embed files and organise with folders.
It’s been well developed over the years and now stands there with the best of them. It’s one of the few apps that actually feels like it has a team that has some allocation over a week to work on it, unlike Reminders or Mail. I don’t want Notes to go down the new trend of apps like Notion in turning it into a knowledge base (almost wiki like) and ends up complicating things. I just need a reliable, as basic as it can get Notes app and Apple Notes is perfect for this job.
After feeling overwhelmed using Reminders and testing out Things (still an accessibility nightmare) I’m starting from scratch with Todoist. I’ve decided to use Labels, Priorities and Projects to organise this time.
It’s still a starter for ten but just wanted to share an initial setup. I’m not even cross referencing my other apps I’m just doing it as I think of things. Pretty calming way to do it (so far…).
I feel like I reach this point every few months, overwhelmed with to do items that keep rolling over or get missed. I’ve been playing around with different apps a bit but it makes no difference I’m so busy I’m not able to keep on top of things.
What I’ve come to realise is
It makes no real difference which to do app I use, for me there isn’t a great deal of difference to how productive I am
I need to be setting due dates and times
Not to let the daily count of items get above around 5
I need to focus on the important tasks
The second item is an important one. I’ve been running a list of items due today but with no due time I forget or don’t get to them. Widgets haven’t helped me keep on top of what I need to do so I need to start to have due times i.e. a visible reminder that something needs doing.
I’m going back to a simple setup and starting from scratch. No idea which app but I’m going to try a simple Home Screen and reminders that have an associated due time so that it’s in my face when it’s due.
I’ve been doing a little experiment for the last couple of week, I’m back using Apple Reminders. I’ve been using Todoist for ages but when I recently got a new Apple Care+ replacement I decided to stick to some of the apps that came with iOS. Part of this is I’m a little bored of the design of Todoist but also wanted to start again after feeling overwhelmed lately.
I’m surprised that I’m still using and enjoying it. I’d always tried to stick with it but subtle improvements to sync and the widget and I’m settling into it.
My setup is pretty simple. I’m trying to pair down my creative projects and spend less time at a device so having a simple to do app works for me just now. Aside from my inbox the folders you see above is all I use. I use no tagging just categorise into folders.
What I like about Reminders
I like the simple UI, especially on iOS. The macOS version still needs an update as it still take too long to create and edit a new to do but I’m happy with it. I’ll trade some ease of use for it being in sync everywhere.
I like the widget, a simple view of how many things I need to get done and the top few displayed right there.
I also like rearranging my day by simply swiping on an item in the today view within the app.
The app adheres properly to system accessibility. I use both zoom mode and largest font and many third party apps ignore these or don’t adapt properly, Apple’s own apps do.
Lastly, I’m not paying for a subscription.
What I don’tlike
The addition of tags is great for those that use them but after playing around with them and adding a few I can’t delete them. I’ve raised this as a bug if you know how to do this please let me know.
The macOS app needs work. There’s a large canvas and it’s not used. The UI could be updated to be better for a larger display but it’s not.
I do wonder if I’m making a mistake not going cross platform in case I switch to another mobile platform but I’m good on iPhone to be honest at the moment and after failing to get a Pixel 6 Pro I don’t need my apps to work across platforms.
That’s it! I used to have way more complaints so it shows that Apple have made good strides forward with the app.
I’ve been using Todoist for quite a while now and whilst I’ve been enjoying it I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed. Despite all of it’s positives Todoist still isn’t great at dealing with overdue tasks.
If you miss a task or don’t get to it it’ll flag as overdue, which is great for some but having it highlighted makes me feel like I’m failing, especially when you go a few days without being able to get on top of stuff.
The only app that I’ve found does this right is Things but as we’ve discussed before the company spares no time to those that need accessibility options so I can’t use it. I wish they were more of an accessibility advocate.
This leaves me going back into Apple Reminders just whilst I try to get back on track. It also lets me review what’s in Todoist and remove what I don’t need.
It’s the way that I do my weekly review in a way but more like a 3 monthly one. Take everything out and start over.
If you have been following me for a while you’ll know that I switched productivity apps constantly trying to figure out what would work 100% with how I work. What I have come to realise is that there’s no 100% (for you) app out there and that if you use one solution for more than a couple of weeks it’ll stick despite any perceived shortcomings.
Let’s look at a to do app. I tried loads, which is important as you need to figure out what is important to you. Remember you won’t get 100% of your wish list but pick the things that are important, for me these are
Must adhere to the system font size setting (this counted out Things)
Must have a widget
Must be able to set a task due to a date without a time (this counted out Omnifocus)
Once I had what was important I picked TODOIST, this gets me all of these 3 and when I used it exclusively for a period of 30 days I settled into it quite nicely and I can’t imagine using anything else.
Now Calendar and Mail, this was easy – Apple apps for me. I trust where my data is and they have the functionality I need. I just need to be able to check my mail and reply, same for Calendar just need to see my appointments. I found third parties to be lacking in supporting invitation invites.
Finally, Notes. After trying Obsidian and Craft I’ve come back to Apple Notes. I can put in links, formatting and sync is everywhere I am. Again, I’m not overthinking and wondering what I may use in the future – I’m using what I need right now.
So my current productivity is all done using
If you find you are switching, think about the basics of what you need to start. Jot down your top 3 features, find an app that does those and try it for 30 days.
Back in 2008 I was really into YouTube, in fact I had a guitar channel with a healthy follower count and connections with guitar companies for review gear. It felt like early blogging and gave me a creative outlet I enjoyed. But something changed about 5 years later, click bait and the rise of the recommended video.
When I started out it felt like somewhere to get help on something, to share experiences or listen to product reviews. Now it seems (to me) like somewhere to go to complain about something or react to other people’s content. I feel this is mainly down to the AI being driven by giving attention to the most engaged content and in my opinion terrible thumbnails.
If you use it signed out you see the worst. Either reaction videos, which include bringing other people down or click bait. If you’re signed in obviously sticking with your subscriptions is the way to go but even then the recommendations are often littered with these same terrible thumbnails and click bait.
Most recently I just wanted to see reviews on the MacBook Air and the first 5 or so videos where why I shouldn’t buy one or why I returned it, along with the cringeworthy thumbnail. I just gave up and read some of my favourite sites instead. I just don’t find YouTube useful in the way I used to. There’s too much content unmoderated.
I’ve ended up not even watching YouTube anymore and I feel the better for it. I have more time in my day to get on, I feel calmer and I know I’m not encouraging Google to throw me more AI driven recommendations.
I’m not saying there isn’t good content on there but it’s hidden. The algorithm favours rage or extreme, not genuine content. It’s not the AI’s fault either, that’s on Google.
Just like Facebook, Google wants engagement even if it has a negative impact on people’s well-being.
So give it a try, go a day or a week or a few hours whatever you want to start but try a day without YouTube and see how you feel.