I’m having a week off. The girlfriend and I will shortly be departing for warmer climes but as a techy couple who both work in marketing, it’s not just a matter of turning off work email and calling it a day.
There are notifications and social networks and calendars and second screens to think about. But in the process of disabling things, I started to carve a new face for my jam-packed iPhone.
I turned off my email accounts. It felt good. I went to Settings and dumped everything out of the notification drawer. And it felt good, almost cleansing. And then I noticed my homescreen.
Even with a good regime of folders, the front page of my iPhone homescreen is almost like a rundown of responsibilities and considerations.
Mailbox, Fantastical and Reminders. Feedly, Instapaper and Reddit. Vine, Instagram and Facebook. Tweetbot. There’s something about all the potential, all these calls to action streaming into my brain every time I pick the thing up.
So a holiday provided the perfect opportunity to simplify my life.
What do I need my phone for?
The Google app now ticks a lot of boxes. Google Now offers currency conversion, weather, directions — and obviously search.
Evernote lets me access notes I’ve previously saved, including recommendations from friends and colleagues — easily searchable and offline.
Foursquare will let me find good places from a list I’ve made already — as well as tips about where friends have been.
I also realised how many things just don’t require app icons anymore. Taking a photo can be done from the homescreen, timers or reminders can be set via Siri. And if I really want to cheat, I can just check my multi-tasking drawer, where some of the old favourites still linger.
As soon as I’d cleared things, it was almost like the phone felt physically lighter. I like this. Most of the Apps are just hidden away on the next page now but there’s something about this clear screen that appeals.
I also had a play with a Nexus 4 yesterday — and for the first time noticed that stock Android seems to give a similar feel. Nothing shows but the immediate actions or widgets you choose. I think there could be something in that for someone who gets a kick out of customisation like I do.
Either way, I’m hoping I’ve found a way to cut out more of the noise that too frequently clouds and crowds my thoughts. In modern life I sometimes see a tendency to react to these things in extremes — delete the facebook account or just stop using a service.
Maybe just quelling the notifications and being careful about what you let through is a more constructive and productive venture. Let’s find out.