My Home Screen in 2017: Based on Activities (Not Categories)

Just like Rob, I’ve been doing some thinking about how often I’ll take my iPhone out and idly flick and tap through my apps and Home screens. Especially with TouchID, it has become effortless to take my iPhone out of my pocket and just check it — without really knowing what I’m checking it for.

It’s happening often enough that it is hampering my ability to focus, and I think part of this has to do with the number of icons I’m seeing on my Home screen. There are times when I’ll exit Safari to do something else, but once I’ve gotten to the Home screen, I’ll already have forgotten what that was, because a red badge will catch my eye. Something new on Instagram or Slack is waiting for me, and I have to know what it is.

So I’m taking this change in year as a chance to shake things up.

Fewer Badges

I already thought I was in a pretty good place for badges before, but I’m trying to push this even further so that only a select few apps — Phone, LINE, iMessage, and Hangouts, and VIP e-mails in Mail — are allowed to show me badges. Everything else has the badges turned off, including the App Store. I like apps enough already that I don’t need badges to help me remember to look at the App Store. If I end up waiting a few more hours to see a new Lightroom update has been released, then so be it.

New Folder Structure

I had previously grouped apps into folders based on the app type. Finance apps went together, photo apps went together, and general “work” apps would all stay in a folder. I haven’t abandoned this idea completely, but I’m trying to think about my app folders from a behavioural standpoint.

I’ve grouped the App Store, Reeder, and all social networks into a single folder called “Checking”. All folders are now on the second Home screen, so they’re one swipe away from the apps I’ll use every day. We’ll see how this goes, but the plan is to keep the really tempting social apps out of the way, so that I spend my time more purposefully when I’m on my phone.

However, when I do specifically clear a few minutes to have a coffee and catch up on news, all of those apps with fresh content are in the same place. I leave Facebook, and Instagram and Reeder are right there so that I can check them next.

I’ll attempt to organize my other folders similarly, around my behaviour, but the social network and RSS apps were really the ones that were taking up most of my time and attention.

Home Screen #1

I realize there is a lot of wasted space and that I’ll have to reach farther up, but I’m starting off with just 16 icons on my first Home screen. I’m opting for less visual clutter first, to see if that proves to be less distracting than having a full 28 apps visible at all times.

I’ve kept Evernote, Lightroom, Safari, and Spotify in the dock for easy reach, since I probably spend the most time in these apps.

The top row is for core Apple apps that I still use daily: Calendar, Maps, Photos, and Mail. The second row has two reminder apps, Due and 2Do, and then Money Pro, which I use for tracking my expenses. Settings makes the first Home screen because I still use it for quick Bluetooth and Wi-Fi changes.

The third row is all about outreach: Phone, LINE, Messages, and Hangouts. These are also the apps that are allowed to have badges. I had debated keeping the Phone app because of how seldom I actually make outgoing phone calls, but when I need to make an urgent call, I’d rather have the phone accessible, instead of hidden one or two levels deep in a folder.

These aren’t many apps on the first screen, and I do foresee myself tweaking this layout over the course of 2017, but I like the idea of disrupting the pattern of fidgeting and idle checking, even by simply moving the furniture around (so to speak). I’ve been feeling a little mindless about how I use my technology lately, and I’m hoping this shakeup will help me be more mindful about why I’ve taken my iPhone out of my pocket to begin with.

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