What’s On My Home Screen?

It’s no secret that I’m into automation and efficiency. There’s no reason to waste mental or physical energy on a task that can easily be automated. And given human inconsistency, I’d much rather trust the machines to take care of it than rely on my feeble brain. Recently, I had the opportunity to show my home screen to author (and fellow lawyer) David Sparks, who has written some great books on Email and going Paperless, among others. It was fun to share the apps I’m using with him and I’m always interested in finding out the latest workflow he’s come up with to make his life and career easier. Here’s an excerpt from our conversation:

What are some of your favorite apps?

Drafts, Overcast, 1Password and Hangouts are my favorite home screen apps right now. My iPhone is mainly a device for capturing ideas, communicating and the occasional consumption of video. I’m a total convert to Drafts. It’s my digital notepad on both my iPhone and iPad and my number one resource for capturing ideas, tasks, or anything that needs to be written down. It’s one of the few apps that is allowed to have badges turned on, which lets me know that I need to process through my notes (which is a snap thanks to the robust action platform that lets me send text to the right app). Overcast is a must for my subway commute. It’s how I keep up with MacPowerUsers and thanks to a neat trick from Katie Floyd, it’s also a way to get Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits, which are required in the legal profession. A lot of people make a fuss about the security aspect of using strong passwords, but without 1Password I have no idea how people keep track of their various logins. It seems crazy to me. I have over 425 accounts according to 1Password. Without one program to manage them, I’d explode in frustration every time I had to login to a website. Hangouts is a new home page app for me, but I am experimenting with dropping my voice plan since I rarely make voice calls. Hangouts allows you to make free calls to regular phone numbers over both wifi and data. So far, so good. I think the day isn’t too far away when voice plans will go the way of the dinosaurs. I already prefer to use FaceTime Audio thanks to the superior call quality and my work phone runs over the Internet, so why shouldn’t my mobile phone?

Read the full article here as it discusses the apps I use to stay productive (and goof around).

Joshua Holt is a former private equity M&A lawyer and the creator of Biglaw Investor. Josh couldn’t find a place where lawyers were talking about money, so he created it himself. He spends 10 minutes a month on Empower keeping track of his money. He’s also maxing out tax-advantaged accounts like 529 Plans to minimize his taxable income.

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    Seven thoughts on What’s On My Home Screen?

    1. This probably won’t be the most popular answer but I love Twitter. I don’t normally tweet a bunch but I have basically created Twitter as my world news feed. Every morning I can quickly scan through my favorite writers to see what is going on in the world and find it is a huge time saver compared to reading on the web or through a traditional newspaper. I really hope Twitter stays profitable because I love the service that they provide 🙂

      1. Interesting. I’m still finding my way with Twitter. I think the first step is realizing you can dip in and out of it. For awhile, I was driving myself crazy trying to read every tweet. The one thing I love about Twitter is the real time news. I always use Twitter when I want to know the latest about something that is happening right now (like the reason for train delays).

      1. You should absolutely try out Drafts. It’s amazing. Super fast and has a library of Actions (although it’s easy to build you own) that let you hook into every iOS application. If I’m writing something in text, it starts in Drafts and then I hit two buttons to transfer it wherever it needs to go (ToDoist, Evernote, etc.)

        Here’s some popular actions to get you started:


    2. I haven’t toyed with Drafts yet, but I’m a big fan of Google Keep for the simple note-taking, images, etc. I have a ton of notes and they’re always on my laptop screen and automagically sync to my phone (and vice-versa). It’s quick, fast, and it works. One of my favorite features though is that you can collaborate easily. I have a shopping list that I share with my wife and we can both add to it, check things off, etc. and it syncs between our accounts so we’re always current.

      There are definitely some more sophisticated note-taking apps like OneNote (which I use for work) and Evernote, but the speed and simplicity of Keep makes it a valuable tool for me. I was going to check out Drafts, but it looks like it’s iPhone only (I’m an Android guy).

      Regardless, once you find something good for notes, it can simplify your life tremendously.

      — Jim

      1. Yeah, Drafts is iPhone only. It’s not a note keeping app though. It’s basically a digital scratchpad that loads quickly and then allows you to send the text off wherever it needs to go. If I have a thought, whether it’s an idea, a reminder, a book I want to read, movie to see, etc., it all goes into drafts. Drafts then acts as a digital inbox – it’s no good to keep the information there – so every now and then I process through all my drafts. Some are deleted, some go to lists (like groceries/books to read/movies) and others go to task management (ToDoist).

        I am always chasing “mind like water” and I find it VERY relaxing to just write everything down and then immediately let go of the thought.

        1. Ah, that makes sense. Sounds pretty cool – I guess I kind of use Google Keep a little bit like that anyway. I have a Scratch Notes note that I use to throw in my one-off ideas and then process the stuff on there later on. Mine’s like a shoddy version of Drafts! 🙂

          I’m with you though – I need to get my thoughts down as soon as I have them or they disappear. I find that I can fall asleep much easier if I take about 10 min and just jot down everything on my mind before I call it a night… it pretty much empties my mind so I can get some shut-eye.

          — Jim

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