If you’re like most people these days, your phone is with you all the time. As much as I hate to admit it, I’m the same. I try to avoid using my phone, but often I find myself turning to it in times of anxiety or silence rather than living in the moment or confronting my feelings. In the past, I’ve used games and social media on my phone to distract myself. Since then, I’ve limited the kinds of apps I use on my phone. Today, I’m going to clean up my phone and walk you through my process. Here’s how my phone looked before.
STAGE ONE: DELETE APPS
This is pretty self-explanatory. I went through my folders and removed all of the apps I didn’t use/shouldn’t be using. Here are a few of the apps I deleted:
- Google: I used to use this for two-step verification, but I went back to just getting codes texted to me so I no longer needed the app.
- Drop: I stopped shopping at the stores I had set up with Drop, so keeping the app installed wasn’t worth it.
- Sweatcoin: I stopped using Sweatcoin to save battery life.
- Pinterest: I only use this for journal prompts, which I can access on my computer.
- Meditation Apps: I deleted a few, I had been using several to access the free meditations, but once I finished them there was no reason to keep the apps as I can’t afford the subscriptions.
- Google Calendar: I use this once a month to transfer everything to my whiteboard calendar, but I never use the app on my phone.
STAGE TWO: UPDATE BACKGROUND
Sometimes a refreshing background can make all the difference in your phone. I didn’t much like the photo of my partner I was using, so I switched to another one and edited onto a less busy background so that my phone would be less busy in general. On my lock screen, I added a reminder to myself to breathe since I turn to my phone in times of anxiety.
Use whatever background works for you, but I try to stick with something positive — a helpful reminder on the lock screen, and usually a picture of my partner or a pet to make me smile on the inside.
STAGE THREE: ORGANIZE APPS
The organization of your apps can make a big difference in how your phone feels. Here’s my new layout (it’s not super different, but feels a lot better to me).
My strategy is pretty simple. I try to keep it down to four folders on the main page and sort it into categories. My categories are work (for productive/school apps), social (for communication apps), cash (for banking/money apps), and health (for the workout, meditation, and mental health apps). I’ll go into more detail about what apps I have on my phone in another post. Additionally, I have a second page on my phone with a single folder called misc. In this folder, I have three apps on one page that I rarely use, and on the next page are all of the apps which I never need to open or that can’t be deleted. This way, my home page stays clear of these kinds of apps.
STAGE FOUR: CLEAN OUT APPS AND WIDGETS
The exact steps you need to take will depend on which kinds of apps you have. But two universal sections of this stage include your photos and text messages.
I tend to horde photos for quite some time before transferring them, but eventually, I upload them to Google Drive. I keep only one photo on my phone, which is a professional photo of myself I use if I need a profile photo. I went from 102 photos to 1!
For this one, I go through and delete any text threads that I’m not actively using. I kept three threads — one with my partner, and two where I’m currently making plans.
Clean out your recent calls and voicemails, fairly self-explanatory but it can save some room on your phone!
I used to never use the widget section of my phone, so it was overrun with random ones I had installed long ago. Instead, I uninstalled all of them except for Google Travel Times, which tells me when the next bus comes and how long it’ll take to get me to some of my common destinations. I use it all the time for a quick check on how long I have until I need to leave.
STAGE FIVE: DISABLE NOTIFICATIONS
I have almost all notifications disabled except for text messages, calls, find my iPhone, focus keeper (a Pomodoro timer), canvas (my college’s online assignment manager), and Google maps. For the last three, the notifications are limited to certain types.
For example, I only use Google maps notifications to send directions from my computer to my phone (I often design the most efficient route for errand days on the computer first). I receive the directions via notification. Therefore, the app doesn’t need to add distractions to my home screen or interrupt me and I have it set to only appear in the notification center.
I suggest going through and doing a similar process with your apps–what notifications do you get? Which do you need? Where do you need them?
It’s been a day since I did this, and I already feel a lot better. I love the new photo of my partner so much more than the other one, and the greenery helps my mood a lot more than seeing my old walls. I’m less distracted now after removing the apps that were distracting me. Although I constantly aspire to use my phone less, the reality is that right now I’m still attached to it. I might as well make it a more positive experience!