Every now and then I like to do a digital cleaning.
Sometimes that means pulling the plug out of the socket and frolic in the woods, like the weekend I camped on Devil's Path in the Catskills last month. In other cases, it means taking a break from the notifications to stroll the neighborhood, usually while listening to an audiobook. (Less often, an Internet service failure provides unexpected security. Thank you, Slack.)
Another of my favorite cleanups: Reorganizing my phone's home screen. The start of a new year seems to be an equally good time for this year, which is why I am now sharing it with you.
A screenshot of my phone's home screen from January 2021.
You'll find the usual suspects are absent – no email, no Google services, no social media. I've moved most of these apps to a cluttered secondary screen. The fewer distractions, the better.
My guiding principle has less to do with utility and more with pursuit. I want my phone to not necessarily reflect who I am but who I want to be.
That may sound hokey, but it's based on some scientific evidence. With James Clear hammering home in Atomic Habits, a user's guide to the human mind, one of the most effective ways to get into better routines is through creating a new identity.
The person I want to be involves a combination of health (Peloton, Health app), education (Duolingo, Libby) and efficiency (Otter.ai, Dashlane). I prefer Mozilla Firefox's Focus web browser over Google Chrome because it has advanced privacy features. The weather and calendar widgets are largely self-explanatory and provide useful information at a glance.
Cleanups like this app reorg work. Since moving Duolingo to my home screen, I've continued a 728-day Mandarin study. Dashlane now stores over 300 of my passwords – all strings of random letters, numbers, and symbols – without a headache. I read, or rather listened to, two dozen books last year, the majority on Libby. (I am currently consuming The Dark Forest by Liu Cixin, the second book in his "Remembrance of Earth's Past" trilogy.) One day, I swear I will bring my daily average step count to 10,000. (There are currently around 7,000.)
What apps will help you become who you want to be? I recommend calling 2021 by doubling them up and showing them on your home screen.