I keep just eight apps on the home screen of my iPhone. They're the essential eight, the eight apps I use on a daily basis. I keep it down to eight apps so that when I open my phone and go to my home screen, it's easier to find the apps that matter. Having just the eight apps I need on my home screen means I'm not spending time looking for my app or even being distracted by other apps. I unlock my phone, open the first screen (if it's not already on that), read, write, schedule or manage using one of my apps on this screen and then put my phone down. Your own selection of apps might vary according to what you need but here's my eight:

  1. Todoist - Todo manager
  2. Fantastical 2 - Scheduler & calendar management
  3. Unread - RSS reader
  4. Riposte - App.net client
  5. Kindle - Long form reading app
  6. Instapaper - Short form reading app
  7. Editorial - Long form writing app
  8. Pop - Short form writing app

And here's how they look on screen:

Essential Eight Screenshot

The first four apps are probably typical on many phones. Task management, scheduling, an RSS reader and a social network client. In each case of reading and writing I have two apps for the different reading and writing that I do.

I use the Kindle app mainly for reading on the go. Maybe catchup on a chapter from the book I'm reading if I find myself with a few minutes to kill. The Instapaper app is also there for reading. Anything like a blog post or online article that I've saved to read later.

The same goes for the writing apps. I use one for working on blog posts and other documents while I use Pop mainly as a scratchpad for ideas or something I just want to jot down.

These are the eight apps that I use on a daily basis. There are apps on the other screens I have but these aren't apps I use daily. The second screen is apps that I use mostly day to day. These include apps like Sunlit, Path and Day One while there are also apps relating to my career, such as HipChat, Linode, Cloud66 and Trello. The screen that follows on from this is Apple's own apps that I use from time to time and lastly there's another screen with apps that I never use. You might think that's a lot of screens but to be honest I rarely visit the third screen and the second screen maybe gets opened once a day for something specific.

I also employ a fixed number of apps for my homescreen. If I want to bring another app in, I have to remove one to make space for it. I have rarely had to do this since I started using this format. I have made a number of app changes on this screen over time, but that's to reflect apps that were not working for me and needed to be replaced. Perhaps the most frequently changed app on this screen is the long form writing app. Previously I have tried Drafts, Plaintext, Plaintext 2 and Byword. Having tried a number of these apps and finding shortcomings in all of them, I'm glad that Editorial was finally released for the iPhone.

I've experimented with just four apps as well as having twelve apps on the screen, but having eight is for the right amount of apps I need in front of me at any given time.

For those interested in the Menu Bar at the bottom of the iPhone's screen, I stick to Apple's own offerings for communicating. These are Messages, Phone, Mail and Safari. I've tried different apps on this section of the screen as well but it's hard to beat Apple's own apps for doing these things.

I've tried in the past to get the number of apps down on my phone, but it gets more difficult when you find you start doing more things on the go. Clearing out my home screen means that I have at least one screen on my phone, more importantly the first one, that doesn't give me too many choices in the apps that I can use. Other apps are just a swipe away but I'm too lazy to even do that half the time. Limiting yourself and the choices you can make is a great way to stay focused.