It's easy to get lost in your phone. You open it to reply to a text, and next thing you know you're two weeks deep into your Twitter feed. To curb mindless browsing, reorganise your home screen to include only two types of apps: tools and aspirations. Photo by Susanne Nilsson.
This idea comes from Tristan Harris, a former Product Philosopher at Google. He explains that most apps generally fall into one of three categories:
- Tools: These are "specific end-to-end" tasks, Harris explains. Your camera, calendar or maps, for example. You go into the app, do your thing and you're done.
- Bottomless Pits: These are the apps that easily become time sinks. Twitter, Instagram, email or any other app that you find yourself mindlessly browsing for too long.
- Aspirations: These apps represent things you want to spend more time on: audiobooks, podcasts and meditating, for example.
Harris suggests narrowing your apps down to two categories: indispensable tools and realistic aspirations. Tools are fairly obvious to pick: which apps do you frequently rely on? As for realistic aspirations, Harris explains:
The ones that represent things that you realistically want to spend more time on in your life — listening to certain Podcasts, as well as an app to book classes at my local yoga studio — but aren't unrealistic. For example, I like to meditate, but meditation apps don't tend to work for me, so I don't include them.
Now, create a home screen consisting of only:
- Your indispensable Tool apps
- Your realistic Aspiration apps
Move everything else off the first page. The fewer the number of icons our eyes have to scan when we unlock our phone, the less work our mind has to do.
In other words: out of sight; out of mind. I took this advice and organised my own home screen accordingly. It makes a big difference. Sure, I can just swipe over to the next page and open Instagram, but I'm used to having it on my home screen, so the extra second gives me time to remember I don't need to get on Instagram and mindlessly scroll. I've caught and stopped myself several times throughout the day, so it's also kind of eye-opening to realise how ingrained this habit is. Plus, my "aspirational" apps serve as a great visual reminder to catch up on podcasts and learn a new language — two things I want to spend more time on than social media.
For more tips on how to have a healthier relationship with your phone, check out the full post below.