Behold: A genius screen tip that'll help you spend less time on your phone.

By Rachel Sylvester
November 13, 2018
Oleksiy Maksymenko/Getty Images

We all have bad habits. My shame-inducing rituals include discarding my daily contacts on my nightstand, forgetting to fully rinse all toothpaste remnants down the sink, and mindlessly reaching for my phone whenever I find myself in a situation where small talk just won’t do—subway cars, elevators, and grocery lines included.

It wasn’t until I recognized just how much time I was wasting on unnecessary screen consumption (5.5 hours per week on Instagram alone) that the reality of lost time set in. In an effort to read more, lurk less, and shed the guilt that comes with knowing I could’ve used that time to chip away at War and Peace or to, at the very least, call my mother, I decided to revamp my poor phone habits.

I started by cleaning out the 58 apps that existed on my phone, eliminating those that were useful but not critical to my everyday well-being. Basically, any app that I hadn't used in the past month got the boot.

I then spent 15 minutes creating a new, empty folder on my phone screen, where I dropped my remaining 34 apps. During the process, I moved all of my most-used applications (Instagram, Safari, and Pinterest included) to the back of said folder, so I would have to scroll longer in order to access them. Once I corralled all of my apps into a single location, I dragged the folder over to the second page on my home screen, leaving the first page of my home screen entirely blank with the exception of four integral, pre-installed apps I didn’t want to limit my access to: Messages, Phone, Clock and Podcasts.

iphone lock screenThe above photo shows my nearly empty home screen, while the below image reveals my second home screen, where my apps are now stored.

iphone lock screen

By depositing all of my apps into a single, out-of-reach folder, I ultimately created more work for myself whenever the urge to unlock my phone hit. Now, instead of simply clicking once on my app of choice, I'm forced to scroll over to my second home page, click into my new apps folder, and search for upwards of 30 seconds for the app I'm hoping to open.

Did I want to open Spotify yet again to listen to Carrie Underwood’s latest album in full? Absolutely. And did I want to casually peruse my former co-worker’s wedding photos on Instagram for no other reason than to kill time before bed? Of course I did. Yet every time I unlocked my phone out of habit to accomplish yet another time-sucking task, I was reminded of the additional effort it would take for me to locate the app in question.

Sure, my hyper-organized phone is somewhat intense to anyone who sneaks a peek at my screen, but it’s a simple hack that has helped me regain control over my free time. Not only am I less inclined to mindlessly open whatever app I spot first, but I’ve found that I’m more willing to leave my phone behind during moments when I truly don’t need it. As for my Instagram obsession? I've successfully cut my weekly social media consumption down to a much healthier 2.5 hours.