The Trap of Apps (Evaluate the worth of an app on your phone) - 5 steps
Updated: Apr 6, 2020
Do you know how many apps you use a day?
It is such a blessing to live in a day and age where we have advanced computers in our pockets and through applications, we can fulfill many of our needs and desires in achieving our goals. It’s amazing that I can monitor my health, establish constructive routines, record my life, learn several languages, and find peace and inspiration, all through my phone.
Some apps are good, some are better, and some aren’t
I imagine you are likely to have many different apps on your device in several different categories. I know I do. I have apps for language learning, morse code, financial accounts, health, services, journaling, games, videos, social media, and all kinds of topics. Some apps are good to have, some give a lot of value to our lives, and some are simply a waste of time.
Sometimes it can be strangely difficult to delete an app from your device and keep it off. If you haven’t used it in a while, you may be worried that you’ll need it soon, and if you use it all the time, you don’t want to let it go.
Apps are addictive
I am no exception when it comes to getting addicted to apps. Some were even good, edifying apps that were based on developing a skill. But there has to be moderation in all things.
I used to have the Flow Free Hexes app on my phone, and I was completely hooked. I was solving the puzzles all the time. My husband would talk to me and I would employ distracted listening, which wasn't fair to him; I stared at my phone as he talked. Eventually, I decided that I spent too many hours playing that game, and even though I enjoyed it and wanted to get all of the stars on each level, I painfully deleted it from my phone.
I did something similar with a block puzzle, since I love puzzles. It took less time there, but I deleted that app from my phone.
One day I tried a miner tycoon game, which has no purpose, but I enjoy games centered around money (I like numbers). It’s about owning a mine and hiring miners, but you have to watch them do it to get the most money out of it. I spent nearly the whole day on it when I started, and the next day I wasted the entire morning as well. I quickly realized that this was far too addictive, had no value, and was taking up precious space on my phone, so I deleted it.
Games I recommend
Now the rule I have for games I'll have on my phone is to only have games that I don’t get too hooked on, and they have to have mathematical value. Really difficult games that you can’t fly through are nice because you get frustrated and quit playing after a while because you can’t get past the next challenge.
Torus Minesweeper is fun to play every once in a while (though it can be addictive since it isn’t as hard), but since I win every time I get a decent start, it’s not as addictive because it’s almost the same every time and I know how to win. Similarly, I have an app called Torus Games on another device that I enjoy using occasionally. It's not addictive though, since it's very simple.
I have an app called Euclidea, which I really enjoy, because it is about straightedge and compass geometric constructions. It’s really hard though, so I only play on it in spurts. I’ve been stuck on the same level for months, so I don’t spend much time on it.
I deleted this app, but I also like the game that used to be called Entangled. It’s about taking graphs and moving the vertices until they are planar. It’s pretty simple, but I got stuck after a while and stopped playing for a long time.
This last game is a guilty pleasure. I play Landlord Tycoon every day. It is a geolocation game where you “buy” shares of real properties in your area and get rental payments, which you use to buy more property. I enjoy the aspect of compound interest, even though this game has absolutely no value to my life, because I already know how compound interest works. Fortunately though, it’s not a game I can spend much time on, so I don’t worry about it as much. I only spend about 2 minutes a day on it to see my daily increase and buy a little more local property.
UPDATE: I finally bit the bullet and deleted this app from my phone!
5 steps to evaluate the worth of an app on your phone
1. Assess the amount of time you spend on this application.
If you are spending too much time on this app (and you know what I mean by too much), then that might be a factor in deleting it. Even if it is a good thing you are getting from the app, there might be better things you can do with your time. If you end up keeping this one, make sure to set specific time limits and set a timer to put it down.
Also, if you haven’t opened the app in several months, then why do you have it on your phone? Do you plan to use it? If you end up keeping it, set a goal for yourself to use it in a specific time frame, then set a reminder to delete it at the end of that window if you don’t.
2. Check how much memory it takes on your device.
The amount of memory your phone has will help determine how much weight this has on your decision. My last phone only had 8 GB of internal storage, and only half of that was available for use, so memory was precious. My phone once nearly broke itself because it ran out of memory. That made deleting apps a lot easier, because I’d usually have to delete two apps to get a new one. That can actually be a nice exercise: when you look to download an app, see if you can pick an app to delete for the new one to take the place of.
If an app doesn’t take much memory, then you can be a little more lenient with the other steps, but if it takes up a lot of space, make sure that the app is giving value to your life that is proportional to the space and time it takes from you. For instance, one of my highest memory apps is my Gospel Library app, which I use daily to find inspiration and teachings to increase my faith and spirituality; to me, this app is worth the near gigabyte of storage it takes.
3. Summarize the actual value it brings to your life.
Think about why you have this application. What is its purpose? Does it help you with something you want to do, is it a means to an end, or is it there just because? Think about what your goals are with it and if it helps you achieve that goal, or if the goal is important enough to keep it up.
4. Analyze your emotional attachment to the app.
It’s amazing how emotionally attached we can get to a bunch of coding. Why don’t you want to delete this app? Is it special somehow? Think about your reasoning and consider if it is a good kind of attachment or a bad kind. If it’s good, then that’s great, but if not, you might want to let it go.
5. Determine the weight of each of these factors in your decision.
Consider the past four steps. If you don’t have a solid argument to keep it from any of these, then delete it right away. If there was one point that really stood out to you as a good reason to keep it, weigh it with the other options, and make your decision. Ultimately the decision has to come from you; you’ll know better than anyone how to answer these questions.
Pick an application from your device and go through each of these steps with it to determine if it is worth the space on your phone. Ideally, you should do this with all of your applications to simplify your phone and declutter. This form of minimalism will set your focus on what really matters to you and give space in your life for better things.