The magical art of tidying up your iPhone Home Screen

The skill of minimising distractions is difficult. It’s hard to take stock sometimes of what you need to do right now and what you don’t. Our phones rarely leave our sight, and the vibrations travel right up our spine when that Facebook notification begs us to respond. More than that, while we’re working emails pop up, we’re reminded to update our software or cats distra…… where was I? Oh yeah, or cat videos distract us (seriously that’s a good one!)

For me, minimising is especially difficult when it comes to my iPhone. I love trying new apps, particularly if they promise some kind of productivity or habit miracle: to-do lists, note taking apps, timers, email clients, you name it. I’ve got tonnes of apps I think are cool, nifty, useful and productive! But how many of these actually add to my productivity and how many are just distractions?

I recently got a bit fed up with the amount of apps I had on my iPhone; page, after page, after page. I had tried grouping them into type of app: a ‘Productivity’ folder, a ‘Chatting’ folder etc., but this didn’t work. I tried making my home screen blank, with just my 2 most used apps at the bottom (Todoist & Fantastical 2) and 2 folders with my other most used apps (and everything else on page 2) but that didn’t work either.

And then I stumbled across Thomas Frank’s video for his College Info Geek blog. Here, he shares his iPhone Home Screen set-up – and I gotta say, it’s pretty sweet. So sweet, that I immediately adopted it, and want to share it with you. So without further ado, here it is.

It works like this:

The reason I LOVE this is because it’s simple; it all takes place on one screen. No swiping left or swiping right, everything there; in 1-3 taps you can open exactly what you want. Just as Steve Jobs intended.

This is how you do it:

Step 1:

  • Figure out your 4 most-used apps (These will go at the bottom)

Step 2:

  • Figure out your next 8 or 12 most-important apps (these will form 2 or 3 full rows) – it’s important they are full rows as these keeps symmetry & keeps it easy to focus on.
  • Make sure these apps are the ones you want quick access to – so if you want to get off of Facebook and Twitter, don’t put these here!!

Step 3:

  • Figure out 3 categories the rest of your life fits into (These will make 3 of your folders)
  • If you travel a lot you will probably have a ‘Go’ or ‘Moving’ folder
  • If you’re a social media wizard, you might have a ‘Social’ folder
  • Or a ‘Study’ folder for those life-long learners out there
  • Whatever you decide, make sure it makes sense.
  • Then fill them up!

The folders Thomas uses are ‘Work’, ‘Play’, ‘Go’, ‘Sift’ – in that order. I opted for a similar set-up but used my own language and switched the order round so my little (right-hand) thumb could reach the important ones easier. Mine are: ‘misc’, ‘go’, ‘info’, ‘me’.
I’ve also split my ‘info’ folder into pages, so first it’s the News/Reading, the 2nd page is Banking apps, the 3rd is lesser used Productivity apps like cloud storage or Evernote (since I’ve converted to Bear)

Step 4:

  • Put everything else into the last folder (This is your ‘misc’ or ‘Sift’ folder)

Here’s what my set-up looks like:

And that’s it! All 4 steps to getting your iPhone Home Screen to match your productivity.

Figuring out your most-used apps can take a bit of trial-and-error – I’ve switched things around a bit, but that’s OK. It also might take a bit of time to find the perfect categories for your folders, but it is well worth it once you do. This is something I’d recommend to everyone, but especially for anyone who wants to really get on with their work without being tempted by the little icons floating on your screen.

Bonus Tip:

For those hardcore productivity-ists, here’s the ultimate tip to not getting distracted. Turn off ALL notifications! I’ve got all notifications, apart from Badges, Phone & Messages, off. And when I really want to work, I also switch on the ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode. This means that I won’t get distracted by anyone I don’t want to.

I hope this helps you get your productivity back on track and gives you the time to do what you want to do. Share your Home Screen set-up @_SimpleStudent

(and for those keen eyed ones of you, yes, there is a 2nd page – I’m trailing an app & keeping it there so it doesn’t distract me and lure me in to see what features it has.)

Share some love