Cell phones are essential to our tech-driven lives, but the disorganization of apps can make using them frustrating. According to App Annie’s 2020 State of Mobile report; worldwide we downloaded 204B apps, spent $120B and averaged 3.7 hours per day on them.
How many apps do you actually use? And, can you find the ones you want quickly? You know you should ‘clean up’ and get your phone organized.
Here are 5 of the easiest ways to organize your phone apps:
- Plan your approach with keep, archive or uninstall
- Build organization around the way you want to use your phone
- Display by folder, page or a combo
- Categorize by color, function or alphabetize
- Set aside time now and for regular maintenance
1. Plan your Approach - Keep, Archive or Uninstall
Simplify what you have on your phone by identifying what you use and what you don’t. If you have the discipline go through your apps one at a time and decide immediately whether to keep or uninstall.
If you find yourself ‘exploring’ with the apps instead of sorting, set up two folders on a page and label one “Keep” and the other “Archive.” You can rearrange these for long term storage later, but for now, you are making quick decisions based on recognition or instinct.
The “Keep” folder are apps you know you use regularly. The “Archive” folder is for apps you are not sure about but aren’t ready to completely uninstall.
Moving forward, each time you use an app from your Archive folder or download a new app - move it into your new storage system (which you will set up shortly).
You are going to keep your Archive folder for a year, after which time you can uninstall those apps you clearly have no use for. In the meantime, they are not cluttering up your space.
2. Organization by Usage
The most important part of any organization strategy is setting it up for you and your lifestyle. If it works with your natural sense of order, you will more likely stick with it.
Think about how you use your phone and any life goals you have. If you are an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ kind of person and you have a goal to use less social media, you want to take these off your home page.
If you have an app that is helping you form a daily habit, put this on your home page as well.
One app I leave out of a folder is a Maps app - it sits in the top right corner because I am usually using my phone with one hand while I buckle up before driving. The top corner is an easy spot to reach with my thumb!
3. Display by Folder, Page or a Combo
Space is important. In website design white space or empty space, creates restful places for your eyes. Use this concept in your phone display too - use a background image that aids the vibe you want on your phone - keep that in mind for after you have laid out your display.
If you like to categorize by function, then this method might be for you.
I place workout apps into a “Fitness” folder. When I get to the gym I open that folder and everything is there - no excuses. Side note: I just did this with my photos so that I have screenshots of workouts ready to use as soon as I get to the gym too.
Pages are the most flexible in terms of categorization. This method works well if you want to categorize alphabetically, by function, frequency or color. However, you will have to swipe multiple times to get to the page you want, so also consider how you want to sort the pages.
Consider how many apps you can comfortably see and use on a page. Sometimes it can be a challenge to click the right app if you can’t quite see it.
I found a combo approach worked well for me. I use folders to create organized spaces on my home screen. These folders contain my frequently used apps by function. I hide social media on page 2 so that I avoid wasting time browsing Instagram!
Less used apps are sitting on pages 3 and 4 sorted alphabetically.
Categorize for Visual Identification
You’ve decided on your display, now consider how you identify or group your apps. By color, name, frequency or function.
Color is helpful if you identify apps or function by visual appearance. This can be a way to bring organization to your phone in a cute way.
- Move dominant color apps together and label the folder by color. For example; Snapchat, Papa’s Cheeseria to Go and Let’s Meditate all have yellow dominant icons so put them in a “Yellow” folder.
- For some extra fun, you also label by emoji.
Alphabetizing is helpful if you identify your apps by name.
If you are short on organization time, don’t have a ton of apps and need a quick fix this may be all the organization you need. If you have a lot of apps you will end up with multiple pages to go through; if you have more than 50 apps, this may not be the best approach.
Organizing by function is helpful if you use multiple apps for a similar function.
This is what I rely on to manage multiple options for transport, banking, client-based apps and even for social media.
By categorizing my frequently used apps into activities I need them for I don’t have to recall an app name, color or design. I am focused on what I need to do with the app.
iPhones will organize this for you by putting your most frequently used apps into an Important folder. You can also manually organize by usage if you know your go-to apps
Set Aside Time
You can complete these five steps in less than an hour, or if you want to take it a bit slower, bite off 10 minutes each day for a week - set a reminder and tackle each of these items one at a time.
As your week progresses, notice how it feels to use your phone but don’t make any adjustments to your organization until after the first month. Sometimes it takes a bit of time to get used to the new layout, but if it is more frustrating than helpful then make the change.
Like any new strategy of organization, maintenance is important.
Set yourself a calendar appointment to organize your phone in another 6 months. You will have collected more apps by then, but also you can hopefully free up some space by uninstalling some of your archived apps.
Adding New Apps
As you add a new app you can take two approaches:
- Put the app immediately into your organization system - a folder, on a particular page, color or fit it into your alphabetical list. Don’t leave it on your homepage screen unless you have a strategy to use it frequently - like every day.
- Place it in the Archive folder or App drawer until you do your 6-month reassessment.
Never again be stuck asking, “Help, how do I organize my iPhone?” You have the steps, go ahead and take charge.
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