my minimal iPhone setup

Unless you have a superpower to resist all the temptations in this world, I guess you once at least see yourself spending hours on your little smartphone.

As someone who has been practising minimal living for several years, I have tried different methods to reduce my screen time with my iPhone, because I used to spend too much time on it. One tip that I got from the Internet is deleting SNS apps on the phone, I tried it a few times, it did not work for me. That’s suck.

Let’s be honest, social network apps are useful right, let’s use them (in the right way). However, I think we, or just me, need to learn new skills in this digital life: screen time management skills”.

How to control your phone usage time without deleting your favourite SNS apps? Welcome to my iPhone setup.

I’m using an iPhone 8 and this is how it looks:

Use the KonMari method

I started my setup by applying the organising method KonMari from Marie Kondo, who is an expert in tidying up stuff especially clothing. However, in this iPhone setup, I used the method from her because it just works the same.

In short, the KonMari method has two parts, discarding and sorting. If there is an app on my phone that does not spark joy, I will get rid of it. After I finished deleting all unused apps, I sorted them in a nice way.

Here are my steps to konmari my apps:

  1. Unlock the phone
  2. Go through the apps one by one
  3. Ask myself: Does this spark joy?
  4. No, delete it. Maybe, delete it. Yes, leave it.

This method not only frees up the storage but also help me not to waste time by only use the apps that I really and actually need to.

Setting up my own Notification System

By default, all apps try to get our attention as much as they can with their programmed notifications. They are too annoying, a source of distraction. Now, an extreme minimalist from a blog somewhere I read on the www suggested turning off all notifications. I just can’t, I would just keep checking the phone if I did it. Yes, it’s a FOMO symptom.

Because of that, I only allow notifications from the apps I use the most, I turn off all the rest of the apps. By giving them the right to send notifications, I also know which apps ‘work’ for me, they deserve my attention and time.

Let’s take a look at an app on my phone:

  • Alerts : areas of notifications to choose.
  • Sound: turn on to have a tone when it pops up.
  • Badges: turn on to have a little number on top of the apps that have notifications.

I currently have alert and sound for Telegram, Gmail, Messenger, Message and Phone. I turn on Badges for only three apps Gmail, Message and Phone.

To configure your notifications on iPhone, it’s simple. go to Settings > Notifications.

Be intentional with Spotlight

Before, I moved all my apps into a folder and put it to the next page leaving the home page blank. When I need to open an app, I swiped down and typed, this is Spotlight on iPhone, I love it. Do you know why?

When I need to do something on the phone, I think about the app I need, then I swipe down, type and search for it. This is what I want, I don’t want to wander around and end up open an app that I was not supposed to be on.

This method was so simple and efficient, however, I realised that I only use a few apps very frequently. As a result, I put those apps on the front page to be able to open them as quickly as I can.

From iOS 14, it featured App Library, which organises all apps by categories in one page. I don’t have to do this anymore, thank you Apple.

Here is my setup:

Home screen: I have a calendar widget on top, and the rest are the apps I useL Calendar, Reminders, Gmail, Photos, work-related folder, Telegram, Simplenote and Safari.

The dock: Phone, Message, Spotify and Settings.

Widget page: weather widget, to-do list

Use a simple wallpaper

A simple and minimalist wallpaper is optional but I found it helpful because I can see the text easily and also not looking at the screen for too long. Here it is:

I love this wallpaper because it is simple, has a neutral colour tone and provides a space for the notifications to clearly show up.

Oh wait, I also hide the dock bar at the bottom of the home screen because I found it annoying, this is just me, not Apple. To do this, I use a magic wallpaper from a Japanese blogger, Hideaki Nakatani. Arigatou gozaimashita.

Here is how to hide the dock bar on iPhone:

  1. Go to heyeased
  2. Find and choose the wallpaper you like from the album Hide Dock Wallpapers. The one I’m using is Almost All White 2.
  3. Follow his instructions.

Simple and elegant, here is the result:


iPhone is a masterpiece from Apple, I appreciate it. But don’t be a slave to this little device and spend too much time on it. I hope that this post can inspire you to change the way you are using your phone to make it work for you just like what it is supposed to.

Update 10/05/21: here is a photo of my actual iPhone8 that I’ve been using for 2 years.

my iPhone 8 🙂

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