This is the first week of Apps month here in Tidy ’24, where we are cleaning up and simplifying the apps on your devices. This probably applies mainly to your smartphone, but also a tablet if you have one, and maybe even a laptop or desktop computer.

The goal here is that by the end of the month, you’ll have far less to manage and keep track of on your devices, a much healthier relationship with notifications—which are horrible for your focus—and maybe even save some money by cancelling app subscriptions that you don’t actually need.

If you need to catch up on anything first, check out the Tidy ’24 Calendar page for material from the last few weeks (or months).

Apps Week 1: Purge the Unused

Installing apps is intentionally made as frictionless as possible. App developers (and major app marketplaces) have every incentive to get you to click that button since every installation is another potential customer or another source of personal data to use for marketing purposes.

And yes, we get some value or enjoyment out of the apps. Otherwise, we’d never install them in the first place. But most of us would admit we often end up with more stuff installed than we need, want, or even remember.

It’s easy to let an app collection build up over time until you have hundreds of them, even if you only use a dozen or two regularly.

Now…is this actually a problem? Maybe not, but at best, you have a bunch of unnecessary junk to wade through to find the apps you actually want to use, and those apps are wasting storage space on your devices. Some of them probably generate annoying notifications, and some might have active subscriptions you’ve forgotten about.

Action Steps:

  1. Identify which devices you want to clean up. For most people, that might only be your smartphone. Even if you have other devices like a tablet or computer, if that’s where 90% of your app usage is, that’s where 90% of the benefit will be
  2. Look through all the apps on each device for everything you don’t use. Sometimes, you might not even remember what certain apps are for. This is a great sign that you don’t need it anymore.
  3. Remove all the apps you identified in step 2.

That’s it!

Exactly how you do steps 2 and 3 depends on what kind of device it is.

If you’re on an iPhone or iPad, the simplest way is by methodically scanning through your Home Screens, whether you have rows upon rows of app icons, or they’re sorted into groups, or some combination of that. Just tap and hold on anything you want to eliminate and choose the “Remove App” option. More recent versions of iOS allow you to choose whether to delete the app (which is what you want) or just remove it from the Home Screen, which doesn’t uninstall anything; it just hides the icons.

If you’re on an Android device, the easiest way is to go to Settings and select Apps. You can then see a list of everything under the “All Apps” item, OR, some versions of Android helpfully give you an “Unused Apps” item with a list of everything you haven’t used in a while, grouped by how long it’s been since you last used it. You can tap on any app in this list to uninstall it. However, some apps can’t be uninstalled if they’re required by Android or your mobile phone service provider.

If you’re on a Windows computer, look for the “Apps” area in Settings, and specifically “Installed Apps.” On a Mac, open Finder and look on the left for the “Applications” entry for a pretty comprehensive list.

If you can, try to remove things as aggressively as possible. If you decide you need something later, you can reinstall it.

But don’t stress too much. This week is just a first pass, a way for you to start paying more attention to something you might not have in a while and start the clean-up process with the easy stuff.

How Does This Help?

Purging unused apps from your devices gives you instant freedom and a sense of accomplishment. It’s a nearly painless way to make visible progress toward orderliness, clearing away the stuff you subconsciously knew you didn’t need but never bothered to get rid of. You’ll also free up precious storage space and maybe even some recurring subscription payments.

While it doesn’t address everything, it’s a significant first step that simplifies the rest of the process. When it comes time to dive deeper into the ones you care about, you’ll no longer need to navigate a mess of useless apps.

Who Does This Help?

This should be a great exercise if you’ve never done it before or it’s been a while since your last review. As I wrote earlier, I find things to get rid of frequently, even though I do this regularly.

It’s beneficial for anyone prone to “shiny object syndrome” when it comes to apps—constantly installing the latest new thing that grabs your attention, even if you don’t use it for more than a day, or even a few minutes.

Who Does This NOT Help?

You might only have a few apps installed already, either because you’ve done this type of review and purge before or because you have exceptional discipline when resisting the marketing efforts of the modern digital world. If that’s you, this week’s exercise won’t do much.

Quick Review

For week 1, your task is to purge the unused. First, identify which devices you want to clean of unused apps. Then, look through each device’s app list and note everything you don’t use. Finally, remove the unused apps you found across each device.

Have fun with this one! If you don’t usually watch the accompanying videos, check this one out—it’s only about five minutes long and includes some screenshots showing how to search and uninstall on different platforms.

If you have any questions about this week’s task or anything related to digital organization, comment below and let me know.

Happy data-taming!

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