It’s a commonly acknowledged problem that we spend a little bit too much time on our phones these days. With a world of information, all of our social networks, and even entertainment- and work- related things all available at the touch of a screen, it can be hard not to spend the better part of a day digitally immersed.
Even if we’re all aware of this issue though, most of us don’t quite recognize the extent of it. Even a few years ago, a study determined that we spend – on average – more than four hours a day on our phones. And odds are the two years since that data came out, the problem has only gotten worse, with newer apps, better phones, and more reasons to stare at those screens.
There’s a greater wellness issue to be discussed here, in terms of how much effect this much tech time has on us and what the specific effects might be. Accepting, though, that four hours a day or more is probably too much, I wanted to use this piece to look at one way to address the problem: de-cluttering our phones, or, more bluntly, getting rid of some apps.
Now, there are plenty of ways to get immersed in your phone without a downloaded app. You can still browse the internet, make calls and send messages, etc. And I’m not suggesting people need to get rid of all of their apps. But I do have a few tips on how you might significantly reduce the number of apps on your phone, and in the process possibly free up an hour or two of your day (almost without even realizing it!).
Apply The Marie Kondo Approach
You may have seen the Organizing Diva’s Kudos to Marie Kondo earlier this year, and for those who aren’t familiar with the Tidying Up maestro, she’s well worth looking into. Kondo made her name via a NY Times bestseller called The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up and a Netflix series (Tidying Up), and has essentially made the idea of de-cluttering your life a trendy one. Kondo’s method isn’t just vaguely about getting things cleaned up or organized, though. Rather, most of it revolves around a simple question: “Does it spark joy?” This is a question Kondo recommends applying to the things in your life, one by one, such that you can make decisions on what to keep and what to get rid of.
So I’m not exactly pitching an original idea here, but I am suggesting people concerned about spending too much time on their phones apply the Marie Kondo approach to apps. It’s a fairly good bet that if you go through your phone and honestly answer that core question regarding each one, you’ll be able to delete quite a few.
Bundle Your Apps
This is a very simple trick, but for a lot of people it can make a fairly big difference. On many if not most mobile phones, you can bundle your apps together. So for instance you can have a single icon labeled “social media” that you can tap on to access your collection of social media apps. Bundling this way not only gets rid of the visual clutter of a screen full of apps (which, for some, can be borderline anxiety-inducing), it also makes selecting an app a more intentional process. In other words, if your Facebook app is placed within a bundle, you might be less likely to check it idly. If you want it, it’s right there for you, but you may find yourself spending less time browsing on it when you don’t really even mean to.
Get Rid Of Time-Waster Games
If you’re one to enjoy mobile games, chances are you’ve downloaded a “time-waster” or two (or, you know, 20) over the years. It’s not uncommon for these to build up on a phone and give you all sorts of ways to pass the time even if you’re not particularly into them. So my advice is to get rid of them, and instead find similar games on the internet. Say you’re into casino games, which are very popular as “time-wasters” because they’re so simple and repetitive to play. Thanks to gaming sites in Ireland, Britain, and Canada, real slot games can be played for free in your browser. Or let’s say you’re more interested in explosively popular (but equally repetitive) mobile hits like Plants vs. Zombies or Angry Birds. Well, these were actually browser games to begin with, and can still be found online.
The idea here isn’t to stop playing the games altogether – it’s to make it so that you really have to seek out these games to play them. This way, if you’re simply bored, you won’t unconsciously pull out your phone, start up a gaming app, and waste an hour. But if you actually want to play a game, you’re perfectly capable of doing so elsewhere.
Delete Basic Website Apps
This is basically a version of the same idea I just put forth regarding games, but it’s still worth stating on its own. A lot of us, at this point, have apps that are just slightly optimized versions of basic, popular websites. Platforms like Wikipedia, Medium, and major newspapers and magazines tend to have these apps, and while they’re quite convenient they’re also – in many cases – wholly unnecessary. Without the apps, you’re still able to access these platforms through your browser, but as with games, you’ll be more likely to do so only when you really want to consume content – not when you’re simply bored and scrolling through your phone.
Spending less time with your mobile phone ultimately comes down to discipline also, and in that sense it’s a personal challenge. But hopefully these tips can help you get a nice head start on the process if you, like so many others, feel like you’re looking at your screen a bit too much.