Last week I read an article on Medium by Jake Knapp about his experience removing all but the essential apps from his iPhone. I won’t repeat his story here. You should just go read it. I was inspired, so I did the same.

I switched off all push notifications (even email, as it is by far the worst) and removed all apps except for ones I use for some constructive purpose (read: browsing Facebook is not a constructive purpose). The others I classified as noise and deleted.

Here’s my home screen now:

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(The second screen is just folders of Apple apps I can’t delete)

No Tweetbot (that was a hard one), Instagram, Facebook, games, news apps (I allowed myself to pick one and one only - I went with Prismatic), location apps (don’t use them any more), and a host of other apps that, while they may be ‘cool’, resulted in a net loss for my productivity and mental health. My newly trimmed screen is not as extreme as Jake’s (his criteria were far stricter), but it still took some courage hit ‘X’ on some of those shaking app icons. I actually started by removing Chrome and disabling Safari, but I reinstalled Chrome as I was finding there were legitimate, non-time-wasting times I needed a mobile browser (but it means I need to be disciplined in how I use it).

The results?

I am no longer distracted by an email notification whilst concentrating or socializing. (If you honestly ask yourself, there are very few emails that are that important to notice right now). I check my email on my phone when I decide. It’s empowering.

I spend my “down-time” waiting in line at a cafe or on the train thinking, talking with people, reading (a book), enjoying a podcast, or just appreciating my surroundings.

I don’t spend hours per week sifting through photos of other people’s lives that don’t mean much to me.

I engage with social networks when I choose to, not when I receive a notification, or am bored.

I have a newfound respect for my time and energy.

I have a newfound respect for my phone, and try to ensure that I’m not filling it up with stuff I don’t use.

Are there any downsides?

I haven’t encountered any yet. At least, they haven’t been significant enough to warrant me going back.