We’ve all heard of minimalism and wanting to simplify our lives, but did you know digital minimalism is a big key part of this and one of the most effective ways to start is to simply declutter your phone.
Digital clutter can drain your battery life and cause apps to crash, even if you just bought the phone. It could also prevent you from keeping your phone up to date, since the average iOS update needs roughly 4GB of available storage.
Even if your phone already runs fine, wouldn’t your life be easier if you could find your favorite apps on your home screen – without sifting through the ones you never use?
When you need to find something quickly, having fewer photos, apps, and text messages can make your search less chaotic.
Today, we’ll teach you how to declutter your phone in a simple way to make it run more smoothly.
This cell phone overhaul will also reduce the amount of time you spend looking for important items. It’s a good idea to declutter your phone regularly – after you do it once, you’ll understand why!
Benefits of Decluttering Your Phone
The benefits of decluttering your phone might seem fairly obvious, but if you’re on the fence about whether or not your phone needs a clear out, then some of these benefits might encourage you.
Decluttering your phone can help you:
- Reduce the amount of storage you are using on your phone
- Make your phone run faster
- Reduce the amount of screen time you’re using
- Help you to have more organized digital spaces
- Help you create some distance from your phone and boost mental health
- Make your phone look better
- Help you find things on your phone easier
- Help you to create different options for backups of your digital photos
- Help reduce visual clutter on your homescreen
Before You Start Decluttering Your Phone
Our phones hold precious memories, important phone numbers, and website passwords.
Before clearing yours, make sure you’ve backed everything up first in case you accidentally delete something you need.
The best way to do this is through a cloud storage service, whether it be iCloud or your Google Drive account.
You’ll be utilizing these cloud storage services as you declutter, but you should still back everything up before clearing your device.
Doing a full backup of your phone is also a good idea in case you need to do a factory reset while decluttering.
If that happens, you can restore your device’s settings and content to how they were before you started making more storage space.
You’ll need to restart your decluttering process, too, but that’s better than losing all of your data!
1 – Remove Your Unused Apps
Home screens hold our most obvious form of digital clutter: unused apps.
Not only does having a lot of apps take up physical space on your home screen, but having pages and pages of apps just looks cluttered.
Over time we tend to acquire a whole lot of useless apps that we download for a trial or that we don’t actually need anymore.
Spring cleaning your apps is a great way to start decluttering your phone.
Go through your apps and delete the ones you haven’t used in a while.
If you have an iPhone, the easiest way to do this is to go to the App Store in your settings and offload your unused apps. This will retain their data while creating more storage space.
Otherwise, simply delete them entirely. Remember: you can always add them again.
After you’ve decluttered your home screen, organize your remaining apps to make them easier to find.
First, put the apps you use most often or your most important apps on the first page of your screen (or in your “top four” on the bottom of your screen if you have an iPhone).
Then, create folders to categorize any similar apps together. You can create folders for your social media apps, shopping, banking, or any other apps you have more than one of.
Try to get your home screen down to 1-2 pages – no matter how many apps you have, it’s doable!
2 – Declutter Phone Photos
How many screenshots, selfies, and memes do you have on your phone right now?
Photo albums can take up a lot of space, and you likely don’t send, post, or view the same photos very often. When was the last time you actually scrolled through the photos on your phone?
Move some pictures from your device to iCloud or Google Photos. Once you’ve done that, you can save photos to your PC or leave them in your cloud storage.
To further ensure that you don’t lose the content you care about, you can even back it up to a USB drive.
While it may be tempting to just upload your photos to social media apps and call it a day, you run the risk of losing your content later on. Facebook and Instagram can change their features, deactivate your account, or even shut down entirely.
You’re less likely to lose access to your pictures if you save them to something you have more ownership over.
As you move photos off of your phone, consider deleting some entirely. Memes you haven’t referenced in months, duplicate photos, and selfies that didn’t come out well are just going to take up cloud storage space.
It’s also a good idea to delete anything that no longer sparks joy for you, like photos of that ex you can’t stand. Applying the teachings of Marie Kondo to your decluttering process can be therapeutic!
3 – Delete Old Text Messages
Believe it or not, texts take up storage space on your phone.
If you haven’t exchanged messages with someone in over a week, delete the conversation. Your inbox will look lighter, feel cleaner, and overwhelm you less.
Avoid text message clutter in the future by unsubscribing from text alerts (if you don’t need them), blocking spam numbers that text you often, and using the Authenticator app instead of texts for 2-step authentication.
To prevent texts from piling up in your conversation threads, set your phone to automatically delete old messages.
On an iPhone, you can set your text messages to delete after 30 days or one year.
Android users may not have this option unless they set their default messaging app to Hangouts. If you do this, create retention rules for messages as opposed to turning off your message history – otherwise, they may clear too quickly.
Sometimes, we can’t delete every old message on our cell phones – they may contain important information. If possible, store that info in a note or app.
Save longer conversations by taking screenshots of them and transferring those photos to your cloud storage.
4 – Disable Your Push Notifications
Do notifications fill up your lock screen?
Even once you’ve read notifications, they often don’t delete, so it’s a good idea to do so manually.
Maintaining a decluttered notification space relies on notifications not popping up in the first place – some people get over a dozen a day and they’ve even been linked to having a negative impact on your mental health!
Thankfully, you can turn off push notifications for your apps.
You likely receive alerts from more apps than you need them for, including ones you don’t use often.
Start by turning these off; then, consider turning them off for more commonly used apps.
Be honest with yourself – you don’t really need to be pinged whenever Overstock has a sale?
If you deleted your unused apps before you started decluttering your notifications, you’ll have fewer apps to go through – that means if you miss a few apps, you’ll still have fewer notifications than before.
Sometimes, our least used apps are the biggest culprits of digital clutter!
5 – Delete Old Emails
Those of us who read emails on our phones know how quickly they pile up.
If you have more than one account set up on your mail app, you could have hundreds of unread messages – yikes!
Unsubscribe from mailing lists you’ve received mail from recently, especially if you never open those messages.
You can usually find an “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of each email, though it may be hard to find.
Don’t skip this step; otherwise, your inbox will quickly collect clutter again.
Once you’ve prevented more spam emails from coming in, you can go through your inboxes and delete your unneeded messages.
Be sure to delete them from your trash bin, too – you’re not saving space if your old emails are still accessible.
If you do have your personal phone connected to your work email, ask yourself if you really need to have it connected, or if you can just access your work emails from your computer or while you’re at work.
They might not take up much space, but every little bit can help reduce the use of your storage (and keep work separate from home life).
Next, you’ll want to tidy up your remaining messages.
When your emails pile up in the same spot, they can be hard to find.
To keep your mail app organized, you can create folders for emails you’d like to save.
Change your settings to direct new messages from certain senders to those folders.
You’ll never spend a lot of time looking for emails again!
Additional Areas Of Your Phone You Can Declutter
While the above simple tips are the best first steps to get your phone decluttered and working well again, there are a few extra areas of your phone you can declutter if you’re wanting to take it to the next step, or if you really are desperate to free up so extra space:
Check Your Downloads Folder
Did you know that every time you download a file to look at on your phone, whether it’s a file or a pdf, there’s a digital print on your phone?
Most iPhone users will notice their browser is set up to delete automatically after one day, but you may need to check. Simply find the search bar on your phone and type in ‘Downloads’, find your downloads folder and see what is there.
Clear Your Web Browser Cache
A simple search on Google will help you find how to clear your web browser cache for your particular web browser, but usually, you can just open your browser, find your settings, and opt to clear history and clear cache.
Set A Reminder In Your Phone To Declutter On A Regular Basis
Keeping on top of your digital clutter can be made a whole lot easier if you declutter your phone on a regular basis.
Set a reminder for every few months to check your phone, back everything up, and repeat this process again.
Improve Your Smartphone’s Aesthetic
Now that you’ve decluttered your digital space, spend some time making it look pretty.
Check Etsy for some beautiful wallpapers for your phone and help make your phone look beautiful.
Decluttering and tidying up your phone may be a bit time-consuming, but it’s worth it to make your phone run more smoothly. With less clutter and more storage space, get ready to feel like you have a brand new phone!