Over the summer, I experimented with a lot of different app configurations. I tried too many task management apps to see how different things fared. I loved my solution, but I wanted to see what else was out there. Then I bifurcated my tasks and used two apps. Splitting my brain in this way was tough, but has been extremely rewarding.

A few months later, I found myself with an Apple Watch. Now that I have an extension of my phone always on me, I started realizing a few different things with my tasks. When I take work out of the equation and only focus on the things I have to do at home, I really don't have a lot of tasks to manage. In fact, it's almost scary the amount of tasks I don't need to constantly parse through when it's locked away in another app. I've even started and am actively going through and refactoring my home tasks to ensure that I am not missing anything.

I ended up also liking different experiences once I started using the Watch. Having things like a good watch app or a good complication can really make an impactful difference. I've started using different weather apps, different navigation apps, different Twitter apps than I did before — and it's really had a profound impact on the way I think of all of this. In fact, I have a secret that will surprise many of you: I've actually been using Reminders for all of my home tasks for the last few weeks.

The beauty with Reminders is that the app is generally good anywhere in the Apple ecosystem, and it is really fantastic on the Watch. And because I'm not managing so many tasks in my personal life, it's been working out really well. Need a grocery item? Add it via Siri. Need to remember a key task in a meeting? Send it from my meeting notes in Drafts to Fantastical, use natural language parsing, and load that into Reminders. The fact that many apps can tie into Reminders is nice.1 I can envision improvements to Reminders, just like in Notes, that would make Reminders a more powerful application for many. There are small changes that could be made to improve it,2 and I hope that some of them actually make it in to a future release.

The other thing I've noticed: in the complexity that is my life, having something simple and basic is refreshing, yet terrifying. I've upended a lot of different apps that I use, and even though it's taken me down scary thought experiments and upended my daily device interactions — it's changed me for the better to do so. I'm constantly tempted to switch everything back, but have resisted the urge in favor of the simplicity, at least for now.

I've still been keeping up on 2Do, used the betas for testing, and I have a long, long list for features and improvements I'd like to see. It's still my favorite task management app on iOS. And I'm really excited to see what happens for the next big release. That will likely pull me back into that camp, and I'll be in love all over again. But for now, using a stock iOS app has helped me think of how I can manage my tasks a little more simply and gain better understanding for what I need to have in order to pacify my infantile, fickle mind.

And the same can be said for Calendar and Mail. I've used other apps for a long time. And little by little, the stock apps have become better, and are on the verge of being great. If would just get a damn share sheet and Gmail push notifications, I'd never think twice about using it. However, I've noticed that by not having the notifications has made things better with respect to email. So, maybe it's actually a good thing. Ok, fine. I really just need a share sheet.

But back to the point — I'm really shocked at how well things have improved after months or years away from using the Apple apps, and it really has been a nice experience using the integrated solution in iOS and watchOS. I'm changing the way I'm doing things, and optimizing my life to do more, with less reliance on other services.3 I've gone from using tons of 3rd-party apps to using Mail, Calendar, Reminders, Notes, Maps, etc. — and it'a an oddly wonderful feeling. I don't recognize this person is that I'm seeing in the mirror (or on my homescreen), but he seems ok for the most part. And it's a nice change for this five minutes. I think I'll keep him around a while, until something else changes.

  1. One point of order here: I realize that I can use 2Do with Reminders sync. But the point of this is to use the stock app. I don't want to muddy the waters and lose the Dropbox sync. I've even made a few different w-flows in Workflow to move things back at the press of a couple buttons to make sure that I can move back quickly.
  2. Yes, like a good iOS beta tester, I've sent in suggestions using the Feedback app.
  3. Hell, I'm even considering just using iCloud Drive and ditching Dropbox.