Why I've started setting rules for organising my iPhone apps

At the beginning of 2015, I promised myself I’d get more organised. I coined 2015 as the year of automation and productivity, so each day this year, I’ve been trying to improve on the previous day by just 1%.

The best apps do one thing, and one thing well

The big problem with most apps is that they try to do too much. The best apps do one thing, and one thing well. Until recently, my iPhone suffered from serious app clutter; I had several apps installed, all competing to solve the same problem. The reason for this is partly fuelled by the fact Apple force a collection of apps on you that you can’t remove, and my reluctance to pick a standard for each of the major use categories. The outcome is I ended up using none of the apps the way they were intended and often struggling to find the apps I actually wanted to use.

At the beginning of the year, I decided to lock down an app for each of the major use categories (mail, photos, tasks, notes etc). And remove the rest / hide the redundant Apple apps. A big requirement for me was the ability to synchonise the data in the cloud for access on multiple devices. For anyone that’s interested, these are apps I’ve picked to do one thing, and one thing well:

App page organisation rules

So I’ve figured out what apps I want to use, but now I need to define some rules for actually organising them on my phone. Here are some of the rules I’ve formulated to help keep me productive when using my iPhone.

  1. Allow no more than 12 apps per page. That’s 3 full rows. (I’m using an iPhone 5) Any more than that clutters the page.
  2. Allow no more than 4 pages of apps.
  3. Keep folders to a minimum on the first 2 pages. Folders aren’t very visually appealling, and increase the amount of presses to get to important items. iPhones are beautiful, and so should navigating them.
  4. Reduce app overlap - don’t…
    • Hide all Apple apps you’re not using in an ‘Apple’ folder.
  5. Don’t install apps for the sake of it
  6. Clear out and delete all old apps that haven’t been used in the last 2 months.
  7. Put all apps you don’t use on a regular basis in folders.
  8. Use search to get to all apps not on pages 1 or 2.
What apps do you use more than 1-3 times a day?

These apps should probably go in your dock. I had a few contenders. Mailbox, Safari and Things are all apps I use fairly regularly throughout the day, and oddly, the Phone app wasn’t one of them. However, I only tend to use them during the day, and not really in the evenings. Where as messaging apps, social apps, and music were apps I’d dip into irrespective of time. The key part of the dock mechanism is that apps are made accessible from any page you’re on.

What apps do you use at least once a day?

These apps go on the frontpage. Don’t allow for any more than 3 rows of apps. Less is more, plus I refuse to believe you use more than 12 apps at least once a day.

What apps do you use less than once a day, but more than once a week?

These apps go on page 2.

And the rest? Folders. Search is your friend!

A page full of folders isn’t pretty. It’s a nightmare to navigate, and not visually appealing. I have friends who’s frontpages are like this! Pages like this should be reserved only for apps you use once in a blue moon. I think I’m going to try and clear up many of the apps on this page that I haven’t used in over 2 months.

What about games?

They go on the last page, page 4. Keep the distractions hidden away on the final page. I don’t care if they’re the best games on the planet, they should be hidden away. It’s all about reducing distraction and improving productivity. They’ll still be there on page 4 when you want them.