What if you drew a map of the apps you visit?

I noticed this pattern the other day. When bored or tired I wander from app to app on my smartphone, searching for something. This something is somehow important. I roam in circles oftentimes re-visiting apps to no avail. It’s seldom, if ever a satisfying experience.

I thought maybe I should try and map this behaviour.

For the mapping I devised a couple of rules:

  1. Write the names of the apps or web sites that you visit.
  2. Use arrows to show how you switch between the apps and label them with the thought that carries you there.

Then I spent maybe ten or fifteen minutes drawing and thinking.

A map I drew of how I jump from app to app.

A kind of a map, of my smartphone movements when bored.

Yeah.

There should actually be more arrows on the map. Moreover, it’s so effortless to switch apps I do it without engaging conscious thought. I just wander.

I believe I’m not alone in this. We all have our smartphone routines, with apps that we tend to check often. This is not a blog post on how I “turned my life around.” But it is a blog post on me realising that I often run in circles on my smartphone.

(This post continues below the photo.)

Window view overlooking airplanes landing and taking off.

Window seats are instruments of deep thought.

What sparked this mapping was a mixture of events and emotions. I was headed home from visiting my dear girlfriend who’s studying in the Netherlands. We had celebrated both our birthdays. I was waiting at the airport. I had a nice meal and watched the airplanes.

Besides enjoying the view I was also enjoying a magazine I had recently bought. The issue I was reading, issue 20 of the Offscreen magazine, had interviewees who shared thoughts on calm tech and attention as a vital human resource. It was super inspiring to read. When I took a break from reading and let my thoughts wander I started thinking about this experience, of me aimlessly navigating my apps. And then I tried mapping it.

I encourage you to try this mapping exercise and reflect on the apps you use in your life.