Marie Kondo is all the rage. I 100% binge watched her series in an afternoon and then cleaned out my entire apartment and re-folded all the clothing in my drawers. While I couldn’t get rid of any books, I did wonder how to apply my newfound semi-minimalism to my phone. After all, I spend about four hours on my phone per day, and most of that on social media. Yikes! How can this addiction less harmful to my mental health?
I found that a certain Marie Kondo approach to my iPhone has actually helped my mental health. I’m no longer inundated and overwhelmed by notifications; everything on my phone has a purpose; my anxiety surrounding social media has lessened.
Find out how I Marie Kondo’ed my phone to improve my mental health below.
Turn off your notifications
The only push notifications I have on my phone are for text messages and Headspace. No Instagram DMs, no mail notifications, nothing besides what I deem absolutely necessary: messages and pop-ups reminding me to be mindful. The little red icons that pop up letting you know you have a notification awaiting you? Disable those too.
At first, I was scared that I would miss something important but that hasn’t happened since I’ve done this. Sure, I still go on my phone to check my email and scroll through Instagram, but I’m not constantly checking my lock screen to see exactly who liked my latest Instagram post or what new emails I’ve received.
If you’re more intentional about your notifications, you’ll be more mindful when checking your phone. Now, whenever I open my phone to check Instagram I found myself asking “why.” The answer is usually because I’m bored, so it makes me wonder if I have something better I could be doing instead of opening the app.
Keep your work and personal tech as separate as possible
I used to keep one old phone that only worked when connected to Wifi for my work phone. Now that my new job has more flexibility, I have one phone again (yay!). I make sure my work email is on a separate app (Gmail) from my personal inboxes (Apple mail) and that other apps I need for work like Slack are filed away in their own folder for when I need them.
Follow only those who bring you joy
Have you ever followed a frenemy or celebrity only because you love to hate them? I’ve been guilty of this (and sometimes still am). But what good does this do if you spend your day scrolling through a feed and hating on someone’s life choices? Inviting that negativity into your life is only detrimental for your mental health.
My advice: clean up who you’re following on Instagram and who you’re friends with on Facebook. If you judge them for whatever reason whenever you see them pop up, unfollow or unfriend them. You’ll start to feel a weight being lifted off your shoulders as the negativity and judgment fade away.
As an alternative, follow accounts that bring you joy. My Instagram feed is filled with dogs, hedgehogs, and alpacas, which always bring a smile to my face. I also follow lots of accounts about mental health and chronic illness because it makes Instagram feel more like a community. Sidenote: If you want to bring more joy to your Facebook feed, join the Welsh Terrier Fan Club. ;)
Clean out your photos
One day I scrolled all the way to the beginning of my camera roll and found photos from 2014. Had I looked at those photos in the past four-five years? Nope! Random books and clothes I screenshot but never did anything with; random things I saw on the street that I sent to a friend but then forgot about; memories I wanted to forget about—all on my phone taking up space and cluttering my mind.
Go through every single photo and delete the ones you haven’t looked at in years and know you would have forgotten about otherwise. As someone who has photos from everything I went from an unnamed amount of photos to about 2,400 photos, and I need to do another cleanout because it’s already been a couple of months!
Clean up your apps
How many apps are on your phone? Do you use all of them on a regular basis? I used to have four almost-full pages of apps on my phone and I used maybe one-third of them regularly. Did I need 15 meditation apps judging me when I already knew which two I liked? Absolutely not. Did I keep the other apps there “just in case” but never actually open them? Yep. Did it cause me anxiety? Absolutely.
Look at each app on your phone and delete the ones you don’t use every month or so. If you need it again, you can always re-download it.
I also recommend organizing your apps into categories and putting the ones you use most on the first page and moving around your social media apps. My muscle memory was really messed up with when I moved my social media apps, which causes me to hesitate even more when I want to open one of them.
Go through your emails
How many emails do you get that you don’t actually look at before deleting? How many unimportant emails are cluttering up your inbox(es)? As a huge proponent of inbox zero, unread and unnecessary emails really give me anxiety. Do I need 1-2 emails a day from Loft telling me about a sale? Do I need to know about random giveaways or things I don’t even remember signing up for? Nope.
Use an app like Unroll.me, which goes through all the emails that you are subscribed to and lets you either keep them or unsubscribe from them. It’s crazy how quickly unnecessary emails build up. I love seeing my daily emails lessen when I do a big clean-up on Unroll.me!
In sum – Marie Kondo your phone!
I genuinely hope these tips helped you as much as they helped me. In truth, I really started cleaning out my phone because I was finished cleaning my apartment and still wanted to clean and I’m so glad I did! I have noticed more lightness and less negativity regarding my phone and I look forward to improving my relationship with my phone as time goes on.