22 Apr 2014

OSG for iPhone

In 2009 I was struggling to manage my lists of todos and goals that had built up over the years. During a long drive home one night my wife and I discussed ways that I could overcome my goal-accomplishing paralysis. Out of that conversation came the idea for One Simple Goal. Excited over the idea, during the next few evenings I quickly built a small and simple app for helping me “manage” the mountains of todo lists I had created for myself.

While the app was helpful at the time to myself and a handful of others, I never really built it into the app with the full set of features I wanted. I often forgot to set a goal for the day, and soon my goals lagged days and months apart, until finally I stopped using the app entirely.

The idea of OSG hadn’t grown stale, but the medium wasn’t right. The app didn’t remind me how to think about the upcoming day and set an appropriate single goal (if one was present). At the time the iPhone was only a few years old and I was daunted by the prospect of learning a new language (Objective-C) and set of libraries (Cocoa Touch, now iOS) to build OSG into a mobile app. So, I let things be, and OSG kind of faded out of my life for a few years.

Since that time I have gained a lot of knowledge and understanding of how to build mobile applications in iOS and Android. Last year the idea popped up that OSG would be a great first time personal app to build. I started building the app last November, and am finally able to announce its release today. You should go download it. :)

If you’re new to the OSG way, let me take the time to teach you the fundamentals. It won’t take long, I promise.

What OSG is not

  1. OSG is not a new way to prioritize A over B. Should I drop the kids off from school or get the dog’s hair cut? As a culture, we tend to wear our busyness as a badge of honor. Turn it inside out and wear your simple life as a badge of honor.
  2. OSG is NOT a tool for helping you build and curate a large list of goals or todo items.
  3. OSG is NOT a tool to tell you what you should not be doing. You should shy away from creating goals that are the opposite of doing, such as “Don’t smoke a cigarette today”. Focus instead on what you will do.
  4. OSG is NOT an app that you will use every day. I certainly don’t. Use it when you are not living as simply as you wish.
  5. OSG is NOT actually a todo-list app, or even a mini todo-list app.

If the above list of missing features annoys you, go download Clear or Wunderlist instead. I’ve used them, and they really are fantastic apps for what they are built for. But simplicity is NOT their game.

What OSG is

So if OSG doesn’t help you organize your todo list, what is it good for? OSG is almost an embarrasingly simple concept. But I believe in simple things, and here’s a simple definition of the OSG philosophy:

OSG is a tool designed to help you think clearly about the upcoming day.

When you create a new goal for the day, you’re prompted with the fill-in-the-blank statement: “If I accomplish nothing else today, I will…“. What is the most important thing you need to accomplish today? If the world falls apart and the dishes stay in the sink and the dog doesn’t get his hair cut, what is the one thing you must get done?

In my few years doing OSG on and off, I’ve found that usually the answer to those questions is the thing I have continued to avoid for days or even weeks. OSG is a tool, a priority scalpel, to get you to be brutally honest about what you should be doing. Forget the complex time schedules, forget the prioritization of 20 items, forget the prioritization of 20 lists.

One item, one goal, one priority. And once you’ve set your goal for the day, DO IT.

If you fail to accomplish your goal that day, set it tomorrow (assuming it’s still the most important thing you need to get done), and take another swing. There is no harm (or shame) in taking a few days to get something done.

So, with happy heart I give you One Simple Goal for iPhone. If it does well enough on the store I’ll port it to Android and Windows Phone in a few months. I’ve already had some great suggestions from friends on ways to improve the app while maintaining its simplistic goals. I’ll post more about those things as they take shape.

If you do download the app and find it useful in some small way I would appreciate a kind word on facebook or twitter (@osgapp) to help me spread the word. I am not very interested in pumping this thing up and posting about it on 50 indifferent review sites. I believe products and services flourish due to word of mouth if the user finds them beneficial.

Good luck, and keep it simple.