Home Screens: Joe Buhlig

Recently I stumbled into Joe Buhlig’s Blog and got lost for an hour. Joe (Twitter) likes to write about appropriate uses of technology and I think he’s great. So Joe, show us your home screen.

Notes about my home screen

I keep it simple. My home screen is designed around the apps that make me productive. Apps that don’t (like analytics apps or social media) are buried in folders. I try to keep everything on one page – the outcome is a slim home screen and iPhone.

What are some of your favorite apps?


I’m using Drafts more and more. Every ad-hoc idea or task gets captured here. I carry note cards around but the power of Drafts has me entering my note card data into it. It can do so much auto-parsing that it’s easier to put it here as opposed to entering the metadata in other apps.


David and Katie have had a number of conversations about this app on MPU and I’m always finding new uses for it. Our youngest daughter was born a few months ago and I used Workflow to send out the announcement texts. 

Group text messages for announcements always drive me crazy. Your puppy is cute, but I really don’t need your great uncle Hank’s phone number. In an effort to be nice to my friends and relatives, I created a workflow to send the same text to every person individually. 

I added blanks to a text message for the expected details – time, height, weight, and length. When our daughter was born, I filled in the details of the message and ran the workflow. It took that base text (and picture), looped through a group of assigned people, and sent the same text message to each person separately. No group message and uncle Hank’s phone number is safe.

Launch Center Pro

At first glance, you could say that Launch Center Pro and Workflow are similar apps, but I would say that’s a miss. LCP is extremely fast at starting a task and Workflow is great at creating new functionality. I like to add my workflows as actions in LCP in order to get new functionality started extremely fast.


I don’t see TheBrain talked about much, but it helps me make interesting connections. Think of it as mind-mapping that allows you to have a different mindmap for each node you create. And you can pull nodes from other places in your Brain to create deep links within the map. 

For example, I have a map inside TheBrain for people that I’ve met. I also have a map of places in the world in the same Brain (it’s nice that computers now allow us to have more than one brain). I can connect each person to a location. But I can also connect them to mindsets that we have in common or favorite drinks. The next time I go to New York, TheBrain helps me remember that John is out there. I dig deeper and see that he prefers a macchiato at Starbucks. So I set up a side meeting with John for coffee and talk about his recent trip to Utah.


You know it’s a great app when you use it constantly and yet forget about it. 1Password is that way for me. I use it on all of my devices every day. I’m lost if I have to type in a password somewhere. Even copy/pasting a password is weird anymore. If a new app doesn’t allow me to log in with 1Password, I’m prone to dropping it and finding one that does.


Once you use TextExpander you’ll wonder why you didn’t pick it up sooner. From typing my email address to writing long-form email responses to lipsums, it’s integral to my use of Apple devices.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

Editorial is one of the more recent additions to my home screen. Just like Workflow and Launch Center Pro, Editorial can be a time suck. There are so many ways to alter text from my phone now. Editorial has single-handedly led me to consider a keyboard case for my iPad. 

What app makes you most productive?

Drafts. It helps me stay on task by making it easy to get things out of my head. Naturally, OmniFocus would be a close second, but keeping me on task is a lot harder than deciding which task.

What app do you know you’re underutilizing?

Drafts, Workflow, and Launch Center Pro. I use them all the time, but I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of what they can do. If I would spend more time with these apps instead of goofing on Twitter I might create something unique with them.

What is the app you are still missing?

I would like to know how much time I spend in each app. Maybe iOS 9 will open the door to this, but I’d like to have some way for it to alert me after a designated amount of time in a given app. Something that helps me control my iPhone habit. 

How many times a day do you use your iPhone?

Too many. I catch myself checking it any time I have a few seconds.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone?

Touch ID. It’s so easy to keep your phone (and many apps) locked and yet really easy to get into. This feature makes apps like 1Password magical. 

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

I’d like to see Apple spend some time perfecting the interplay mechanisms. AirPlay, AirDrop, and Handoff are great concepts. I just don’t find myself using them very often because they’re unreliable.

Deeper connectivity between apps. It sounds like we’re getting some of this with the Universal Links in iOS 9, but allowing developers deeper access to the system could open things up. It could allow Workflow and Launch Center Pro to gain power, make my app tracker possible, and start to make “iOS only” people more common.

What’s your wallpaper and why?

It’s one of the stock Apple wallpapers. I like using a dark background on any app I can. It keeps my phone from being a light bulb and makes it easier on my eyes.

Anything else you’d like to share?

As I was writing this, I realized that my iPhone is all about getting work done. That’s not necessarily bad, but breaks are important. My home screen proves I’m not the best at slowing down. Maybe I need an app for that.

Thanks Joe.