How to use organization expert Marie Kondo’s tips to declutter your iPhone

By nature of my job as CNBC’s gadget reviewer, I’ve found that my iPhone can sometimes turn into a stressful, cluttered mess of pages and pages of apps that I never use. It’s time to fix that.

Everyone’s talking about Marie Kondo’s hit Netflix show “Tidying up” and her book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” both of which create a guide, using six principals outlined by Kondo to help you organize your home.

The principles are as follows:

  1. Commit yourself to tidying up.
  2. Imagine your ideal lifestyle.
  3. Finish discarding first.
  4. Tidy by category not by location.
  5. Follow the right order.
  6. Ask yourself if it sparks joy.

So, I figured I’d try to apply each of them to my phone to see if I could get rid of the stuff I don’t need, like apps that don’t make me happy.

It sounds silly, and maybe I’m reading too far into Kondo’s teachings. But, if it works for the home, shouldn’t it work for where we focus our eyeballs all hours of the day — our phone screens? I tried it and it worked for me.

Plus, all of this shouldn’t take long. Consider spending just 30 minutes over lunch to get started. You’ll be surprised by how far you get. And, after I did it, I felt a lot less stressed looking down at my phone.

Here’s how to de-clutter your iPhone using some of Kondo’s teachings.

Trying to organize an iPhone is annoying. You have to figure out what you use and what you don’t. And if you have a lot of storage on your phone, it’s often just easier to leave all of the apps there. That just adds to the clutter. So, before you even get to cleaning your iPhone, you have to want to clean up those apps. But that’s why you’re here in the first place, right?

Apple makes it easy to see how often you actually use an app. So commit to at least removing those untouched apps.

Here’s how to do that:

  • Open Settings on your iPhone.
  • Choose General.
  • Select iPhone Storage.
  • Scroll down the list and delete apps that say “never used” or apps that you last used months ago.

Think about the apps that make you happy and the ones you don’t.

Some studies have suggested there’s evidence that social networks like Facebook and Instagram may be ‘related to signs and symptoms‘ of depression. Do you really need to see everyone’s vacation photos? Probably not.

Or maybe an app is pinging you with annoying notifications all day long. It’s an important app, so you need it, but you don’t need to be dinged every time someone sends you a work chat message, right? For that, I’ll show you how to manage the app so that it generates less stress.

Whether they depress you or stress you out, there’s at least a possibility they don’t cause you joy. That means you might want to get rid of them, at least if we’re following Marie’s principals.

To delete apps one by one:

  • Hold your finger down on the app for a couple of seconds until it begins wiggling.
  • Tap the X next to the app.

To manage an app’s notifications:

  • Tap Settings:
  • Tap Notifications
  • Turn off sounds, badges, and deactivate “show previews” if you never want to hear from an app.

You don’t want to be sitting at dinner with your significant other just staring at your phone. But chances are you might be doing that, or maybe even falling asleep, the two of you sitting in bed with screens glowing in your faces.

So, imagine your ideal lifestyle. Do you want to be using your iPhone all of the time, or do you want to try to enjoy the moment more often? If it’s the latter, Apple has “Screen Time” tools in place to help you limit how often you use your phone, and even lets you set limits on how often you spend in each app.

Here’s how to do that:

  • Open Settings on your iPhone.
  • Choose “Screen Time.”
  • Tap “App Limits.”
  • Select “Add Limit.”
  • Choose a category like “Social Networking.”
  • Select how long you want to spend using social networking apps per day.
  • Maybe set this at an hour or less to start.

Next we’re going to set Downtime, which means you can only use certain apps after a pre-set time, like text messaging. This lets you live more in the moment without the temptation to open an app, like your work email.

  • From the Screen Time menu, choose Downtime.
  • Set a time for Downtime, like between 6-7 p.m. if that’s when you always eat dinner, or from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m. if that’s when you want to disconnect at night.
  • Set the hours you want to be active during your Downtime.
  • Now go back to the Screen Time menu again.
  • Choose Always Allowed.
  • Select the apps that you want to be able to use during Downtime.
  • Remember: You’re committed!

We’re going to organize the apps that remain in the next step, but before we get there, make sure that you’ve followed all of the steps above. Have you deleted the apps that don’t spark joy? Have you removed the apps that you don’t use? Have you set your downtime? If so, you’re ready for the next step: tidying up what remains.

Now create folders for the categories you use most. Maybe one for finances, one for business, one for social networks and another for music.

To create a folder:

  • Tap and hold on one application for a couple of seconds until it jiggles.
  • Drag that application on top of an app that you think should be in the same folder.
  • Your iPhone will create a folder and generate an automatic name.
  • If the folder isn’t already still jiggling, tap and hold it until it does.
  • Tap it again.
  • At the top, rename the folder. Maybe “Health” for your mindfulness, yoga and calorie-tracking apps.
    Repeat this creating folders for specific categories, so you know where to easily find an app.

Now it’s time to live by the order you created when you tidied up your iPhone by category. You’ve created the folders, so it’s time to turn chaos into order by dragging all of the remaining apps on your home screen into each folder.

This is easier than you think!

You don’t need to select an app and move them one by one into the folder. Instead, you can select multiple apps at once and drag them right into the folder.

To do this:

  • Tap and hold on an app you want to move until it jiggles.
  • Now, with that finger still on that app, drag it a little bit so it’s hovering and then use another finger to tap other apps you want to group with it.
  • You’ll see them start to collect in a pile under your finger.
  • Select all of the apps on your home screen that you want together, then drag the group into the corresponding folder.
  • Note: If you haven’t named folders (and you should!) Apple can intelligently recognize that. For example, if you’ve selected a bunch of games, Apple will automatically create a folder named “Games.”

Now you should have a nice, tidy iPhone with apps that you actually use, that you enjoy using, and that are now sorted into neat folders so you know where everything is. Gone is the iPhone with pages and pages of random applications.

Look, I get how silly this sounds, but if Kondo’s teachings work in our homes, maybe, just maybe, they’ll work here, too.

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