‘Oh my god is that Plants Vs Zombies???’ My friend shrieked as she grabbed my phone. ‘I haven’t played this since I was at uni! Do you still play it?’
Definitely not. I downloaded that game circa 2009, slammed through the whole thing and then never touched it again. That was 9 years ago and it’s still on my phone. I’ve also had four phones in that amount of time and somehow it just ended up getting transferred from phone to phone and I stopped noticing it was there, which to be honest, is very unlike me.
I made a mental note to spend some time cleaning up my phone that evening. It occurred to me that I’ve pretty much never cleaned up my phone. It just ends up being this weird labyrinth of stuff that follows me around everywhere and it gets out of control very quickly.
Here’s a quick quiz to see if you need to organise your phone. Can you name the first 5 apps on the first screen of your phone? I can’t and they’re probably the ones I use the most often. If you have absolutely no idea what the hell is on your phone, make it your mission this week to give your phone a bit of a cleanup.
1. Delete apps
If you’re not using an app, delete it. If you paid money for it, the app store will remember that you paid for it and won’t charge you again if you choose to download it in the future, this works for Apple and Android phones. Get rid of anything you’re not using – organisation apps you bought on a whim and never used, apps from fitness or diet challenges you completed ages ago and kids apps you downloaded for your mate’s toddler when you went out for breakfast a few months ago. They’re just cluttering up your phone, so be bold and ditch them all. If you need a deleted app again, you can just go and download it again. Easy.
2. Organise apps
It depends on how you use your phone and what you’re trying to get out of it but I tend to have the apps I use the most on the front ‘page’ of my phone and my four favourites in the front page dock. They are TimePage, Mail, Notes and Messages. the other pages on my phone have themes. There’s a social media page where I keep Facebook and Instagram. There’s a health page where I keep MindBody and F45 challenge apps. There’s a money page where I keep my banking apps. It’s like a little mini filing system on my phone.
3. Turn off notifications
This is more for your mental health than anything but those little circles at the top of icons can be really confronting and I don’t know of too many people who respond positively to them. Go into settings, and turn them off. For everything. You don’t actually need to know when someone likes one of your posts on Instagram. Just pop in once or twice a day and you’ll see it then. You should also turn notifications off for email and Facebook too.
4. Transfer your photos
You don’t need to have the last ten years of average phone photos on hand at all times, plus they take up a lot of storage on phones that don’t have a lot of storage. Store them on the cloud, the way if you need you can still access them but they’re out of your phone and not cluttering up your storage space. Also don’t be afraid to delete photos. If you took fifty blurry photos at your mates hens night and there’s only one good one, just keep the good one. There’s no point in holding on to photos where you can’t really see who’s in them.
5. Clean up your music
If you’re a music person, spend some time on a quiet weekend sorting out your music. Delete anything that is in your library twice, make sure everything is labeled correctly and if you’re really feeling it, make yourself a few playlists. I subscribe to Apple Music and it’s fantastic. It suggests a few playlists every day and I usually pick one where I don’t know many songs so I can listen and not get distracted when I write. I dabbled with Spotify and Pandora for a while but Apple Music is really my bag. Pick your favourite streaming service, sync it with your own music library and make the most of being able to carry an obscene amount of music around with you at all times. What a time to be alive right? Sometimes when I’m jogging with my AirPods in I think about when I used to go jogging with a clunky Sony cassette Walkman in high school. I could only take whatever songs I could fit on one cassette tape, now I can carry more music than I will ever be able to listen to with me at all times. It’s pretty spectacular, isn’t it?
6. Pick one calendar app
Personally, I struggled a lot making the move from a physical diary to a digital one. I defaulted back to physical for years until finally I got TimePage and just committed to it. It’s excellent. I do still use a notebook but Timepage syncs with all the other apps on my phone and just seamlessly put things in my calendar. The F45 app pops my classes straight in, Google calendar syncs my meetings. It also gives me warnings on my Apple Watch to let me know when I need to leave to get to appointments on time. It also gives me weather warnings so I don’t leave the house without an umbrella when it’s going to start to raining in 15 minutes. It’s also gorgeous which makes it a pleasure to use. I had a few different calendar apps before Timepage but this is the only one that’s really stuck. It doesn’t matter which calendar app you use, just pick one and make it work.
7. Pick one To Do list app
If you have notes and lists across a million different apps, things are going to get lost and you’re going to miss things. I use the Notes app on my iPhone because it syncs to my computer. You can make checklists in there too. I also use Clear for shopping lists but only because it’s so damn satisfying to tick things off your list, the sounds on that app amazing.
8. Make your phone beautiful
Get yourself a gorgeous case and if your phone is broken, get it fixed. Screen replacements aren’t super affordable (they usually start at around $100) but that’s a small price to pay to not end up with shards of glass in your fingertips every time you scroll through Instagram. As an internet type person, I spend a lot of time on my phone so I make sure I spend money on beautiful cases and maintenance because it’s worth it to make my phone experience a good one.
9. Clean up your contacts
I haven’t done this in years and writing this article prompted me to do it and it was looooooong overdue. My favourite delete was ‘Hunter The Stripper’ who I still had in my phone from my mate’s hens party in 2010. I mean he was fabulous, but I’m pretty sure Hunter was pushing forty back in the day and I’m not confident he’ll be able to bend like that almost a decade later. Next time you have a spare 20 minutes (on the train, waiting at the doctor) and delete anyone who doesn’t need to be there.
If you’re after app recommendations here are some articles you should read…