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:
- Write the names of the apps or web sites that you visit.
- 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.
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.)
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.