Home Screens: Darrin Carlson

Last year, while attending the World Domination Summit, I met Darrin Carlson. (Twitter). Darrin is a swell guy that has decided to dent the universe by teaching men to learn how to cook at his site The Guy Can Cook, when he’s not too busy trying to learn how to surf the San Diego waves. Okay Darrin, show us your home screen.


What are some of your favorite apps?

Everything on my home screen is an MVP for one reason or the other, but these are the real cornerstones that I can’t live without.


The older I get, the less I’m able to just go with the flow in life and still manage to get everything done. Like most of my favorite apps, Omnifocus acts like an upgrade to my brain. As long as I make capturing actions, creating projects, and doing regular reviews a regular part of my life, this task manager ensures I don’t forget about anything important and pushes me to take the actions necessary to meet my goals.

Day One

The social network for introverts. I’m a recent convert to journaling, and Day One is my app of choice, because it is cross platform and supports Markdown. Using TextExpander snippets, I do daily and weekly reviews that allow me to more naturally be proactive and analytical with my day-to-day life. Using the app on my iPhone, I can also easily capture any ideas or take any photos throughout the day that I think might be useful as well.


I write a lot, and though I prefer doing so on my Mac, there are plenty of times where I just want to squeeze in five minutes here and there. Using my phone in landscape orientation and typing with my thumbs has been a lot easier than I’d thought, and I really like Byword for its simple presentation, Markdown support, and TextExpander support.


Evernote seems to be a love-it-or-hate-it app, but I put myself in the former category for a couple of reasons. I love its web clipper feature, which I use to create a “personalized search engine” of stuff I think I might want to reference in the future. I like being able to create notebooks that include all types of files that I’d like to keep in the same spot when I’m working on a project. And since I love to cook, I’ve used Evernote as a cookbook where I’ll store iterations of recipes I’m developing, as well as any other reference material. And it’s the perfect place to keep my grocery list.


I really enjoy learning new languages. It allows you to meet new people, learn about different cultures, and exercise your brain in a fun and challenging way. While I think that talking with native speakers is the most important element, learning the nitty gritty of vocabulary and grammar will help supplement this. Duolingo is a highly-addictive system to learn languages that does the job as well (if not better) than other products out there that cost hundreds of dollars or more.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?


Yeah, yeah. It’s boring and unoriginal. But Facebook is definitely my guilty pleasure app. I check it more often than I probably should, and spend more time reading other people’s posts than writing my own. But at this point I’ve got friends and family all over the world, and it’s nice to take the occasional 15-second break to see what’s up with them. Plus, the ability to remove the updates from your more, er, dramatic friends makes it fairly easy to eliminate some of the more obnoxious aspects of Facebook.

What is the app you are still missing?

I can’t think of any specific app that’s still missing for me. My biggest desire would be to make my main apps work together as well as possible.

I’ve been playing around a lot with Drafts recently, and this seems to fitting the bill quite nicely, but it would be great if Siri had improved functionality so I can make more happen with audio notes as well.

How many times a day do you use your iPhone/iPad?


I use it to capture quick notes, observations, to-dos, and cash transactions in Evernote, Day One, Omnifocus, and Mint, respectively.

If I have a spare minute, I’ll check Twitter on Tweetbot, Facebook, and text messages. (And if I come across a good long read, I’ll throw it into Pocket for later.)

If I have a little more time to kill, I’ll brush up on my Portuguese in Duolingo.

And if I’m driving somewhere new, you can surely bet I’ll be using Waze for navigating there!

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

I understand that things are getting creepier with technology allowing others to track us, but GPS (and location-awareness in general) was a godsend for me, and probably the best feature of the iPhone.

For one thing, I probably spent at least an hour each week lost in my car before I had my iPhone. I just have a terrible sense of direction.

But furthermore, I’ve realized the power of having location-awareness for things like Omnifocus (which is handy for location-based contexts), Mint (for logging cash transactions), and Yelp (for finding new places to grab lunch).

If you were in charge at Apple, what would you add or change?

Better photo management.

I’m a proud owner of a MacBook Air, but all my photos and videos have turned it into a bloated whale.

And since photos are one thing that everyone hates to delete, it’s been a struggle for me for a long time to get all these photos somewhere safe and get them off my hard drive.

I just purchased Bradley Chambers’s book “Learning to Love Photo Management” after his recent guest hosting gig on MPU, and look forward to implementing what I learn.

But what I really want is something akin to iTunes Match, where I can just pay an annual fee to upload all my photos to the cloud so I can get them off my hard drive with as little brainpower expended on my part as possible.

What’s your wallpaper and why?

I use one of the standard wallpapers. It’s simple, non-distracting, and reminds me of what the sky looks like when the sun’s rising. And since I’m a morning person, who knows? Maybe it will make me more productive!

Thanks Darrin.