Launch Center Pro is an app that can really boost your productivity on your iPhone, but like with anything that will help you improve your overall efficiency and effectiveness, it does take some front-end work at the beginning.
Since Launch Center Pro was released (not to mention its predecessor, Launch Center), it has received acclaim from iPhone power users from all corners of the Internet, but I’ve found that the enthusiasm has waned over time because it takes some time to make sure using it “sticks” with the user.
Like any habit, you need to work at making Launch Center Pro a part of your iPhone’s workflow. So the first thing you need to do to ensure it does is to place it in your iPhone’s dock. That way it is on every single screen, keeping it in front of you no matter where you are on your iPhone.
Secondly, is you need to set up the home screen in Launch Center Pro to best suit your needs. That means creating Groups for the categories of apps you use most often. As you can see in the example below, I’ve created Groups for several areas, including Writing, Productivity, and Social. You’ll also notice i’ve created one for OmniFocus, which I’ll dive into a bit deeper shortly. (Click on any of the screenshots to open up a larger version for viewing.)
My Launch Center Pro home screen consists of both Groups and Actions, some of which are the default ones. I hghly recommend leaving Toggle (for brightness settings) and Flashlight on the home screen so they are easily accessible. I’ve also placed DuckDuckGo Search there as that is a personal preference, but you can use Safari or another browser in its place instead. I’ve also got my wife’s iMessage number on the home page so I can quickly access it in far fewer steps (save for using Siri).
Now let’s explore each of those Groups I’ve created, starting on the top row and moving down in a clockwise direction.
This Group contains anything to do with direct communication with my contact that is not done through a social network of some sort. I’ve set up Actions for the people I contact most, and Evernote Hello is in there so I can quickly access it to add new contacts as I meet them.
This screen contains all of the apps I use as part of my productivity workflow. All of my timers are in here, as is my calendar app of choice (Agenda), and others that I use to help manage my work. You can’t create Groups with other Groups, so all of these are Actions – and some of them are specific ones (New Email) while others are more general (Dropbox).
There is some redundancy in here, but this is where I put my main writing apps and any other apps that would be part of my writing workflow (Drafts, Day One). Again, these Action items can be specific or general, depending on what apps you are using and what is supported.
I took a page out of my frequent collaborator Michael Schechter with this group. He goes into a lot of detail with how he set this Group up, which you can read at his website, A Better Mess.
This acts as a mini-RSS feed reader for me in that I can review all of the sites I follow most closely in one place. I still do use an RSS reader app for the rest of my feed reading, but this is where I start my day so I can read what I like most right off the bat.
Any app I use to read on my iPhone (which I don’t do all that much other than the sites that are in Bookmarks group) reside here.
These are the apps I use most frequently that don’t fit anywhere else. I have no doubt you’ll need a Group like this, and this one is essential to ensure you get the apps you really want to have access to quickly at your fingertips without having to jump from screen to screen.
All of my social networking apps are in here, and it is made up of both general and specific actions. This Group keeps any and all social networks off of my iPhone home screen, which is where you’ll find many users keeping them. That kind of placement can kill your productivity.
Once you’ve arranged Launch Center Pro in a manner that I’ve demonstrated that works best for what you do, then it’s time to banish all of the apps that have specific Actions within this “super app” to folders on the last screen of your iPhone. Those that are more general in their placement should not go in a folder elsewhere on your iPhone, but should be placed on one of the last screens as well. That way they are still tough to get at by comparison, but not as tough as those within folders. By doing this you will force the habit of using Launch Center Pro regularly, and you’ll see how much more productive you can be with your iPhone.
How have you set up Launch Center Pro on your iPhone? I’d love to hear your setup – and what you think of my setup – in the comments below.