Home Screens – Mike Schmitz


This week’s home screen features Mike Schmitz (blog)(twitter). Mike’s a geek that writes and talks a lot about productivity. In addition to his own work, Mike also writes at Asian Efficiency and makes several good podcasts, including Bookworm and the Productivity Show. Mike was a recent guest on Mac Power Users and is a swell guy. So Mike, show us your home screen.


What are some of your favorite apps?

I love podcasts, and I love Overcast. It’s probably the app I use the most. The Smart Speed and Vocal Boost features are awesome, and Marco Arment (the developer) is always pioneering crazy new features. Another app I use every night is Sleep Cycle. It’s uses the microphone to detect when you are coming up out of your deep sleep cycles. It wakes you up at the opportune time, which allows you to wake up alert instead of feeling groggy the rest of the day. I’ve also gotten into meditation in the past year and really like Calm. The design is beautiful and I really enjoy the new meditations that are delivered every day (the “Daily Calm”). Productive is a fun habit tracking app that helps me stay consistent and “not break the chain” when developing new habits, like journaling or getting up early. And of course Drafts. I capture everything in Drafts and I absolutely love it.

Which app is your guilty pleasure?

I have two: on my iPhone, it’s Twitterrific. I like Twitter about 1000x more than Facebook because you can choose you want to follow without having to reciprocate “friendship” with them. IMHO, Facebook tends to be people form your past while Twitter is future-focused. Who are the people you want to surround yourself with? That’s what Twitter is for me.

On my iPad, it’s Civilization VI. I’ve been a huge Sid Meier fan for years, and I think it’s amazing that I can play a full Civilization game on my iPad.

What app makes you most productive? 

This is a tough one. Probably Ulysses (where I do all of my writing), MindNode (where I keep all my book notes as mind maps), or Day One (which I use for my daily reflection). If I had to pick one, I’d say Day One because it’s been key to me developing a consistent journaling habit. Journaling has really transformed my productivity by giving me a record of my personal growth. Whenever I feel stuck or discouraged, I go back through my journal entries and look at how much progress I’ve made.

What app do you know you’re underutilizing?

Workflow for sure. I have a few workflows that I use all the time, but I tend not to go into the app to make workflows unless I have a specific problem I’m trying to solve. For example, I have a workflow that records the answers to several prompts and stores the responses as variables, then puts them into a Markdown-formatted table in Day One. It took me awhile to make it, but I use it every day. I have a couple of these workflows set up, but if you just launch the Workflow app on my iPhone the number of workflows there doesn’t look that impressive.

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

Not nearly as often as some people, and that’s by design. I try to be very intentional about having a reason to reach for my phone. For example, I rely on my phone for my morning routing (daily Bible reading and prayer, meditation, etc.) but I’ve trained myself to use it for those things instead of checking email or looking at Twitter. After I start working, I won’t look at my phone again until lunch. I’ve also turned off almost all notifications so that I don’t get interrupted when I’m making progress on a big project by something that doesn’t really matter, like a social media mention.

What is your favorite feature of the iPhone/iPad?

I absolutely love the camera on my iPhone X. I decided after my iPhone 6s that whatever phone I got next would have dual lenses so I could get better pictures of my 5 kids, and the iPhone X doesn’t disappoint. Related: Live Photos are amazing and using burst mode has allowed me to finally get non-blurry pictures of my always-moving munchkins.

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

The ability to change the default apps, particularly Apple Mail. I use Dispatch because it’s the only email client that allows me to send messages directly to OmniFocus and include a link back to the original message in the message:// URL format. For example, Airmail uses airmail:// which means that if I click on the link in OmniFocus on my Mac it will only open in Airmail (which is a problem since I love MailMate so much). But it’d be great to click on those message:// URLs in OmniFocus for iOS and have them open in Dispatch. Unfortunately, right now that’s impossible.

Do you have an Apple Watch? Show us your watch face tell us about it.

Apple Watch.png

I really like the Utility watch face. I keep it pretty simple, and don’t use the complication on the bottom because I think it makes the screen too crowded. I use the Activity complication in the upper left (gotta close those rings!) and the Drafts complication in the upper right. I love Drafts on the Apple Watch, and use it all the time to capture things on my watch. Using Siri for capturing is surprisingly accurate (even when I capture ideas while out for a run). There’s even a setting available for Drafts under the Apple Watch app that allows to auto-capture straight from the complication, eliminating the need to tap again to start dictation.

What’s your wallpaper and why?

When I got the iPhone X, I started with an all black screen because it looked great on the OLED screen. But it was a little too plain for me, so I found one online that is black on top to hide the notch but still has a little bit of color.

Anything else you’d like to share?

With great power comes great responsibility. The iPhone is an amazing little pocket computer, but it’s also a gateway to distraction. Do whatever you can to protect your ability to focus and eliminate distractions. If you have to completely delete email from your phone to keep from checking it first thing in the morning, do it!