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Over the past few months, as I’ve made the commitment to do some serious decluttering in my home, the first thing that I started with was my phone. Believe it or not, digital clutter can cause stress just like physical clutter can. And taking the time to declutter your phone can not only simplify your life but can help to reduce stress as well!
The reason I chose to start with my phone was simple. I had a very uncomfortable moment when I realized that I was spending FAR too much time on my phone. I was shocked to see that my screen time average was at 11 hours a day! That means there were some days that it was higher than that! Yikes!
Now yes, I do some work on my phone. But not 11 hours worth a day. In fact, I’m only on my phone for work for 1-2 hours a day at most. So exactly what was I doing the other 9 hours? Mindlessly scrolling social media, binge-watching videos, and allowing my time to be sucked away by things that really don’t matter to me all that much. And when a phone is taking up almost 1/4 of my day, that is a problem.
So I committed to reducing my daily screen time significantly. But first I wanted to declutter my phone and get rid of the things that weren’t being used and taking up space unnecessarily.
Why you should declutter your phone
If you are simplifying your life, digital clutter can be just as stressful as the clutter caused by your physical stuff. And there is most likely a lot on your phone that really doesn’t need to be there and is just taking up space. Your phone can actually be a time waster too. You may be spending too much time on your phone doing things that are unproductive. That happened to me. I was using apps regularly which sucked time away from other things that were more important to me.
So decluttering your phone can increase productivity. And it can improve mental health!
Things you can do to declutter
Remove unused apps
How many apps do you have on your phone that you just don’t use? You most likely have a lot that is just taking up space on your phone. Having apps on your phone that you don’t use can also clutter it up, making it harder to get to the apps you do use regularly. So take a look at which apps you can remove. You’ll free up space on your phone, and make it a bit easier to find important apps.
Remove apps that you use…but shouldn’t
It’s time to get honest with yourself now. How often do you mindlessly scroll social media apps? Maybe you spend hours mindlessly playing games on your phone. There are certain apps that just steal far too much time. While I spend time on social media posting for Simple Clean Living, the majority of the time that I was spending on my phone was definitely NOT related to that. I found I had a bad habit of wasting time scrolling social media. I could spend hours watching random TikTok videos or Instagram reels.
But honestly, it didn’t make me feel great to do that. And when I really paid attention to how it was making me feel, I knew I had to change my phone habits! That was when I started decluttering. I got rid of a few games that were time wasters. And while I can’t get rid of the social media apps, I do monitor my usage now!
Clean up pictures and videos
When I recently looked in the photo album on my phone, I was shocked to find that I have almost 23 thousand photos and almost 1700 videos. That’s a LOT! Several years worth of photos and videos in fact. I’m in the process now of transferring pictures from my phone to both an external hard drive and cloud storage.
In this process I am able to get rid of a lot of duplicate photos and now have the chance to organize them as well!
When I first started decluttering my phone, I had apps covering 5 different screens. I was having to swipe from screen to screen a lot to find the app I needed. After removing the apps I don’t use or need, I began organizing the apps that I was keeping. I created different folders such as productivity, entertainment, finance, and shopping. I added apps to those folders. It has cleaned up my screens a lot! I went from having 5 different screens down to 2, which is far less to swipe through looking for the app I need.
Delete old text threads
I was amazed at just how much space text threads take up on the phone. And most likely you have old text threads that haven’t been used for a long time. You can get rid of old text message threads that you don’t need anymore. That clears up space on your phone and clears some of the clutter too!
Delete old voicemails
Your voicemail box can get full pretty easily. And those voicemails can also take up space unnecessarily. So take some time to clean out any old voicemails that you don’t need to keep!
Delete picture and video attachments in texts
Did you know that any time someone sends you a picture or video in a text message it gets saved to your phone? Even avatar pictures get saved on your phone. If an attachment is large it can take up valuable space on your phone. And when you have lots of attachments on your phone, they can start cluttering up your phone.
Disable notifications you don’t need
Are you constantly being notified of new messages, emails, or updates from different apps on your phone? To clear some of that digital clutter, and keep yourself from being pulled to your phone unnecessarily, you can turn off some of the notifications you don’t need. Go into your settings to select which apps you no longer wish to receive notifications from.
This was a big one for me personally! I was getting notifications from all of my social media channels regularly. When I really paid attention, I was shocked at just how many notifications I was getting from some of the apps. And often they were catching my eye and making me reach for my phone because of FOMO (fear of missing out). I decided to go through and shut off all of the notifications for apps like that. Now I only have notifications from the most important apps. And I find that I’m not reaching for my phone as often!
Clean out your contact list
When was the last time you cleaned up your contact list? You may find that you have duplicate contacts or even contacts that you no longer need to have in your phone. Go ahead and clear them out to declutter your phone!
Delete unneeded downloads
Have you ever been on a website or in your email and downloaded something onto your phone? You may have downloads on your phone that either need to be transferred to your computer. And there may be other downloads that you just don’t need anymore.
If you have an iPhone, you’ll find downloads in your “Files” app. There is a folder there dedicated to downloads. In Android phones from the app tray, look for the “My Files” app. Once in the app, look for “My Files”. You can delete any unwanted files there.
Clean up your music
Many people store a lot of music on their phones. But how much of that music do you actually listen to. When I went through my phone there was certainly a LOT that never got listened to…ever! So why not clean up your music library? When looking to declutter your phone, it’s the perfect time to clear out music and podcasts that you just don’t listen to. It can create some space on your phone and lessen the digital clutter as well.
Unsubscribe from marketing emails
We get a lot of emails every day. And it’s easy for those emails to pile up and become overwhelming. And while you can check email on your computer, you most likely also check your email often on your phone. But you may be getting a lot of emails that you subscribed to, but that you never read. If that’s the case for you, it may be a great time to unsubscribe to those newsletters and marketing emails that you don’t read. I’ve done this as email comes in. When I see emails subscriptions that I no longer want, I go ahead and hit unsubscribe.
It feels good to declutter your phone. It helps you to feel lighter and benefits your mental health. And it simplifies your life too. And that’s worth it!