J. R. Swab

How To Be An App Minimalist

Categories: [self improvement]
Tags: [learn], [health], [apps]

Over time the apps on our mobile devices pile up, and we end up with a massive amount of icons we never touch. There is a better way to live in this digital world by only keeping what you need or what brings you lots of value.

App minimalism is not about having the absolute least number of apps on your device but only keeping those that impact your life in a meaningful way. Most mobile devices come with a plethora of pre-installed apps we'll never use or have an alternative we prefer. With these pre-installed apps all we (Android users) can do is to disable them; don't ask me how to disable apps on an iPhone, I've never tried. For the rest of the apps, since you installed them via the Play Store, Fdroid, or as a raw APK, you can remove these all together.

What to keep

Much like living a minimalist life is not about getting rid of everything neither is the idea of app minimalism. The best strategy to figure out what to keep is the 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto principle. At the basic level, this rule states that only 20% of something gives you 80% of the benefits. When applying this to deleting apps, we could say, "20% of these apps give me 80% of the benefit". Or "80% of these apps bring only 20% of the value of using the phone."

The one I tend to default to is asking myself, "What 20% of these apps do I use the daily?" The other 80% may need to remain on my device (like the phone app), but this is an excellent place to start when looking for what apps to remove. I am about to do this soon and tend to do so three or four times a year. There is no reason to keep an app around that we don't use or that is slowly making our life worse.

One Such App To Better Yourself

One of the best apps I use to help better myself is called Digital Detox created by the same developer that made Sleep As Android. This app trains us to be less dependent on our phone and love life without regularly checking social media and mindlessly opening apps.

With Digital Detox, if you stop the app early, you are charged $1 (or higher if you choose) as a punishment. Luckily you can set apps as exceptions for apps that you may need like the phone or your password manager.

If you set your most used social media app to the exception list, you're doing it wrong.

The App also has a nice countdown, so you know how long is left as well as kind words of encouragement. After completing one of their detoxes, the app awards points so you can show off to all your friends (if you're into that kind of thing...)

For a list of the apps, I allow myself to access during a detox period check out the post titled How To Conquer App Addiction. This post also has a few tricks on taking control back and mindfully using your mobile device.

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