Imagine if a minimalist smartphone setup was the only thing standing between you and a calmer, more intentional life.
Could it really be that simple?
Yup, it really could.
Unless you’re a young teenager, you’ll remember what life was like before Steve Jobs unleashed the iPhone 3 on unsuspecting first world humans.
We knew it marked the beginning of something significant. What we couldn’t foresee was the hold this new technology would soon have on us.
That’s now a moot point.
Rather than concern ourselves with the past, let’s instead consider where we find ourselves right now and figure out a sensible way forward.
Or appealing, if we’re entirely honest.
Our lives are tethered to this world; the one that’s run on technology and AI and who knows what else. It’s not all bad. I mean, who doesn’t love the convenience of Google Maps, Uber and Mr D?
I know Sporty and I do.
That being said, there’s still a lot to be said for dumbing down your smartphone. (And not just because of the issues you can run into, which, let’s face it, are enough to make anyone want to move into a cave.) You definitely do not need most of the apps you have on it. You may think you do, but trust me, you don’t.
They’re just distracting you.
To be clear, I’m not some lone luddite on a mission to get everyone to use a minimalist smartphone. In fact, I’m late to the party (as usual). People have been banging on about the benefits of dumb phones for some years now.
If you’re not attached to it, you could downgrade to a minimalist smartphone and save yourself the gray hair of simplifying your current phone. Otherwise, follow the minimalist smartphone setup steps below and you’ll be good to go.
Unless you deleted your Uber app, in which you won’t be that good to go.
A Minimalist Smartphone Setup in 6 Easy Steps
1. Switch Out Your Launcher
I’ll be honest. I didn’t even know what a launcher was until about five minutes ago. Now that I do, I’m considering switching my standard factory edition to something more in keeping with my minimalist sensibilities.
I came across Fuji Computer AL0 in my search for a simpler, less distracting launcher. They have yet to go live but I was intrigued by the features they offer. I particularly like the look of the black and white textual interface.
2. Clean Up Your Apps and Widgets
I have Whatsapp, Instagram and Gmail on my phone. I’ve zipped Uber and Snapscan as I only use them when we’re in town. Most people have way more than that.
If that’s you, go through your apps and widgets and notice which ones you use on a regular basis and which are just gathering dust. Delete the ones you don’t use. It doesn’t matter if you have enough memory to keep them. Ditch them anyway.
The second part of the exercise is more tricky. Spend some time evaluating the apps and widgets you’re left with. Are they adding value to your life or are they just distracting you?
Only you can know for sure, but to give it some perspective, Uber is helpful, Facebook isn’t. It’s not like you can make a mistake here. If you delete something and find you need it in the future, you can download it again.
Be ruthless. There’s no point pussyfooting around. If you’re serious about having a calmer, more intentional life, you’ve got to be all in.
3. Freshen up Your Background
Busy, funky patterns might be fun to look at for a few minutes, but having them as your wallpaper isn’t clever. Whether you realise it or not, they have an effect on your psyche.
Opt instead for something calming like plain white or a soothing pastel colour that’s easy on the eye and good for visibility. Hunching over your screen is bad enough, you don’t want to be squinting at it as well.
4. Turn off Notifications (No, Really)
We’ve been conditioned to believe we must always be in touch with what’s going on around us. Whether that’s the news, social media, work emails or a phone call from Mom, we think we have to be available 24/7.
We don’t. If you want to take back control of your time then turning off notifications is a great place to start. It’s a super simple fix. Head over to your app settings and switch everything to off.
You might have a bout of FOMO anxiety initially but it won’t last. Before long you’ll find yourself revelling in the quiet. If you want to go all out, trying switching your phone to silent and only checking it every couple of hours.
5. Go Marie Kondo on Your Photos and Videos
In the pre-digital photography days, we took nowhere near as many photos as we do now. For the simple reason that it was expensive. You had to pay to develop and print the pictures you took.
I’m as guilty of this as the next person. I have thousands of memories stored on my phone. And by memories I mean a documented history of every meal I’ve ever eaten. It’s time to clean that mess up.
How about you? Are you in a similar position? Let’s commit to doing a Marie Kondo on those photos and videos and only keep the ones that spark joy. I have a sneaking suspicion I’ll be left with a bunch of food photos, but at least I’ll know why I’m keeping them.
6. Organise Your Damn Contacts
I’m equally lazy about managing my contact list. Every once in a while I’ll make a half-hearted attempt to clean it up and then I’ll give up before I get with spitting distance of the Cs.
What do your contacts look like? Are they also an embarrassing mess? Perhaps on this front too we can commit to a little digital minimalism?
Periodically paring down your contacts is a great way to clean up your phone. Are there people you’re no longer in touch with? Do some of your contacts have multiple numbers? It’s time to get organised once and for all.
The Many Benefits of Dumbing Down Your Phone
I jokingly promised in the title that dumbing down your phone offers a bazillion benefits. The thing is, it’s probably not that far-fetched. Smartphones have been shown to impact the brain in a variety of ways.
If you want to preserve your brain cells one way is to reduce the amount of time you interact with your smartphone.
Other benefits of going the minimalist smartphone route is that it will increase not only your productivity, but your ability to focus and concentrate as well. In short, a minimalist smartphone will make you smarter.
Without all those apps stealing your attention, you’ll find yourself more present and more in touch with the world and the people around you.