How to Handle Desktops & Notifications
Hey lady, this month we’re talking all things digital minimalism. Not sure what that is? Make sure to check out the first post here.
Desktop & Home Screen
What does your desktop look like? What about your phone’s home screen?
When I see most people’s digital lives, I wonder how they can ever stay focused. I see all of the files on their desktop and I wonder what they think when they open their computer. Sure, some people might not think much about it at all, and good for them, but for me, even subconsciously, I have thoughts about how cluttered it is. How disorganized. How much it is calling to me to address, rather than staying focused on the main thing.
A few years ago I decided to take up a new method of maintaining my desktop, and it completely changed everything for me. Now when I open my computer, I more easily have thoughts driving the feelings of calm and focus.
While we can’t control most circumstances in life, there are some circumstances that we can shift for our advantage, and one of those that I am a huge advocate for is for how we maintain and use our digital space.
Here’s how I keep my computer’s desktop:
I always have a folder that is named: YY.MM.
I also learned that you can change out the image (or color) of the folder to be even more clean than that standard blue Apple folder. I show you how to do it here.
I then save everything that would go on my desktop to this folder for the entire month. Then, I save all of these folders at the end of the month in a folder on my Dropbox dated for the year. If there’s anything in the folder that is easily saved in a different folder, I go ahead and drag to reallocate, but if it remains in this miscellaneous state, I simply keep in the month folder and move to the year folder. I always know I can search my desktop folder containing all of the previous desktops if I really need something saved there.
Want to know the funny thing?
Of all the years I’ve been doing this, I can’t remember once when I’ve had to go find a file in one of those folders. So now I’m wondering if I even really need to keep them anyway. For now, I’m not up against a space issue with my storage, so I will continue to just quickly keep them.
About a year ago, I realized that my iPhone was in a similar state - but instead of files cluttering its screen, there were pages and pages of apps. While I’m an advocate for deleting apps you’re no longer using, I also have come to find there are many apps that I use irregularly, but do not want to have to always redownload when I’m away from WiFi to use.
Instead, here’s how I keep my iPhone’s home screen:
I created a folder on the favorite’s bar where I put every single app, except for my messages app. All of them. Then, when I need to use an app, I swipe down to use the search bar, but most often it’s an app that comes up in the Siri’s suggestions, so I don’t even have to search.
I can’t tell how how many comments I get about how calming my iPhone’s home screen looks with all of those apps of various colors moved into one folder.
Finally, let’s talk about notifications. Last, but definitely not least.
I cannot understand people who:
Have sounds still on for their notifications on any of their devices.
Have notifications on at all, with the exception of things like messages.
Here’s the thing about notifications: they’re designed to steal your attention.
Rather than staying focused on whatever revenue-producing task you’re working on, you are allowing a device to suddenly interrupt your focus to have you check something that is not important. Not only is it not important, it is most likely not even something that you need to know about at that moment, if ever.
I highly recommend turning off any and all notifications that you can on all of your devices. Only keep on the ones that would seriously cause your world to crumble without knowing about it in the moment.
The other thing to turn off: those wildly distracting red dots with numbers in the middle. You know the ones. The ones counting how many notifications or emails you have for a particular app? Yeah, those.
When you see those red dots with numbers, what do you think? How do you feel?
If you’re anything like me, the red dot screams urgency and I think about things I’m not getting to every time I see them. So unhelpful. Turn them off. So much better.
You don’t need an app to tell you its fake urgency, you run this show, you have a schedule for when you check those apps.
If you just do those 4 things, I promise you it will start to shift your world.
Here’s a quick recap:
Clean up your desktop
Clean up your home screen
Turn off notifications
Turn off badge app icons
Notice your resistance to changing these things.
You just don’t want to create more space to do the things that matter. You kinda like the distractions and the fake urgency. Maybe you even believe you have FOMO. Get real with yourself and test it just for a week.
What if you actually had just been missing out on life this entire time?