My homescreen (August 2018)

I read Jeff Hilimire’s blog and one thing that I find really interesting that he posts about is his phone’s homescreen. Why? Looking at one’s homescreen says a lot about them. It’s a window into their priorities and how they organize their life (or not).

We have different ways of organizing our homescreens. He uses Android. I use an iPhone.  But we both put thought into how we organize our homescreens and we’re deliberate about it. Following his example, below is a screenshot of my homescreen and why I’ve organized it this way.

Organizing my homescreen

I’ve organized my homescreen to minimize the number of apps on it, reduce visual stress, and optimize for thumb distance.

I use an iPhone 6S Plus (yes, still), so you’ll note the larger screen real estate. But I don’t fill it up completely. This is intentional. I only put something on my homescreen if I use it on a daily basis or I need quick access to it (e.g. Google Maps when I’m getting in the car). There’s no reason to fill up the whole screen if I don’t need to. That only makes it harder to find what I’m looking for, or worse, increases the likelihood that I’ll get distracted from my original intention.

You’ll notice that there is no red dots. In my post on minimizing notifications, I talk about disabling the badge notifications. The only one I keep on is for the Phone app in case I miss a voicemail or call. The result is a homescreen that is visually stress free and mitigates apps trying to pull me into them!

As for the ordering of the apps themselves, I keep apps that I use less frequently towards the top left of the screen. As you move towards the bottom right of the screen, these are apps that I use more frequently. This is simply because I’m right handed and it’s easier to open apps with one hand this way.

You’ll also notice that I only have two app screens total, despite the fact that I have well over a hundred apps installed. I don’t like thumbing through pages and pages of apps, so I basically categorize all my other apps into folders on the second page by type. I typically don’t use these folders to find an app. Often, I’ll just search for it by pulling down from the top of the screen. It’s quicker that way.

Why these apps?

You’re probably wondering why I have chosen these apps and not others. Here’s why:

Listening to Audio

I listen to a lot of audio. I shoot for 30 hours per month, so this probably makes Audible one of my most used apps. I use this app when walking my hounds or to work. I like being able to concentrate when I’m listening to audiobooks, so walking is great for that. I don’t find they are easy to listen to when driving; however, so this is where Spotify and Music come into play. I’ve also got the Podcasts app on my homescreen but that’s more as a reminder to myself to listen to more podcasts because I don’t right now.

Taking Notes

I take a lot of notes. So having quick and easy access to Evernote is important. Evernote is my preferred tool of choice, but if it’s something quick or temporary like a grocery list, I’ll use Apple’s Notes app for that. Apple’s app is generally faster to create new notes. However, Evernote is better for organizing information. What’s nice is if I want to create a new note in Evernote, I can long press on the app icon. This will boot into the app with a new note ready to create, but it’s still slower than Apple’s Notes app. So it depends on what kind of note I’m creating, but the point is I have both apps here for easy access.

Calendaring

I use Google Calendar to quickly add new events as they come up. For actually viewing my calendar, I don’t usually open the Google Calendar app itself. I swipe left to the Today View, in which I have a Google Calendar widget. Or I’ll simply look at my Apple Watch to see upcoming events for the day.

Todo-ing

I use Things to keep track of smaller tasks and planning my day. Things has a calendar view within the app that I can use when planning my day. Another reason I don’t need to open the Google Calendar app itself. I often will think of something I need to do while I’m on the go, so having Things on my homescreen allows me to quickly add a new task. I simply long press the Things icon and then I can quickly add a new task to my inbox to organize later.

Web Browsing

Yes, I use Firefox instead of Safari. This is simply because I’m a fan of Firefox and their mission. It’s also nice that it syncs my bookmarks and open tabs with Firefox desktop. The crappy thing is that Apple does not fully support third-party browsers. So if I click on a link from an email or another app, it still opens in Safari. Hopefully they change this someday!

Where’s Social Media?

You’ll also notice that I have no social media apps. This is by design. The last thing I want to do when I pick up my phone is get sucked into Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. So removing them from my homescreen completely helps avoid that. You’ll see that I have the Pocket app, however. When I do use social media or come across something interesting, I’ll save it to Pocket. So having Pocket on my homescreen is a handy way of reminding me to read what I saved. It’s more deliberate and productive, I find, to read something I saved to Pocket when I have a few minutes to spare.

Everything Else

The rest of the apps I think are pretty self-explanatory. I keep Settings, Stocks, Weather, Photos, Camera, Messages, Phone, Wallet, and WordPress within close reach because I use them often.

Hopefully this helps shed some light into why I have organized my homescreen this way. How do you organize your homescreen? Do you use any of the same apps or techniques? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Please share screenshots!

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