For this week’s Mindfulness Monday post, reader Nick Sweetman shares how he keeps his iPhone home screen free from distractions.
Before there was even iOS 12’s “digital health” features, I knew I needed to treat my iPhone as a tool, and not get drawn in to information and experience addiction. I realize how corny this might sound, but I felt more focused on my family and generally more satisfied, rested, and attentive in life after I implemented these rules.
My rules have become:
No social media. Not “no social media on my iPhone” — that means no social media at all. You won’t find a profile for me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. There might be leftover accounts somewhere out there, but I don’t use any of them.
No badges, limited notifications. I blend my work and personal apps (Outlook and Things), but I do not allow notifications for them. It doesn’t bother me to have them on my phone. The other element is that none of my apps are allowed to have badges. I don’t need my phone to keep a running to-do list, especially those that are advertising interactions. This is especially key with Messages. I have notifications on, but no badge. It’s not like the messages are going anywhere, and if it’s really important, people will send a second text.
Only keep productive apps on my home screen. I used to keep social media, YouTube, and games on my home screen in folders named for their content. It kept those on my mind constantly since I saw them when doing other intentional work on my phone.
Blank folders. This took some creativity. I found a person who makes Disappearing Dock wallpapers and applied it. Then I used the Shortcuts app to create a generic shortcut for nothing, really (I think it launches Music, or something), and set the color of the icon to the same “disappearing dock” wallpaper. I then used the Add to Homecreen feature in shortcuts 36 times and threw all of the other apps into the folders. I put the shortcut icons all on the first page of the folder, which results in these disappearing folders…as disappearing as is possible. Finally, I used the ▫️ emoji/icon as the name for the folder.
I like having a minimal screen, but the reason for it is that it keeps my focus where it needs to be. I have a screenshot attached, as well as my usage history, which has decreased by 15-20% every week for the past four weeks in a row.
I appreciate your recent article on minimizing distractions on our phones, and it inspired me to share a little bit about me.
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