How to fight app overload by using the “clean-sweep” method

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Apps can overload your smartphone

Look at your smartphone. It’s a mess.
If you’re anything like me, you have way too many apps on your phone– games that you “might want to play again someday”, productivity apps that never really worked out, apps that you aren’t sure what they do (but you’ll figure them out someday), and apps that are buried back in your phone that you’ve forgotten about…you’ve even got some apps that you bought that you never really liked, but you paid good money for them, darn it! You’re keeping them. It’s pretty easy to get to this point if you enjoy trying out new apps, and because many of the devices we use have so much space, we tend to accumulate way too many apps. I say it’s high time you had a purging.
The Toll
All of this electronic rubbish doesn’t just clog up your device and slow it down: it actually piles up in your head, too. Just as the more junk you have on your desktop, the harder it is for you to be productive, the more rubbish you have on you phone, the more time you spend (waste) flicking through screens and rearranging your digital junk.
This all takes a mental toll on you and cuts your productivity, and it’s high time to minimize the amount of clutter that you have in your phone.
Here’s what you do:

Fight app overload using the clean sweep method

Fight app overload using the clean sweep method

Give your phone a “Clean Sweep” by resetting it.
Wait, what? Reset my phone? Are you joking? What about my high scores?
Don’t care.
What about my notes?
Grab what you need, and delete the rest.
What about my…?
Stop! You don’t really need half of the junk that you load on to you phone. Cast it off! Clean up your device. Reset your phone and (if you have “default” un-deletable apps) make a folder called “stuff I don’t use” and put all of the un-deletable apps that you really don’t use in that folder. Leave only the two or three apps that you use on a regular basis. Not “I might use this someday”. If you need it someday, you’ll find it. Only the apps that you use constantly get screen (and mind) space.

Decide which apps are really important

Decide which apps are really important

Decide which apps are really important.
Go through your app library. I’m speaking for the viewpoint of an iphone owner who, on itunes, can look through all of the apps that I’ve downloaded even if they’re deleted on the phone, but I’m sure that other phones have similar capabilities.
You can only add an app onto you phone if it meets one of these criteria:

1. You actuallyuse it on a consistent basis.
On my home screen, I have a dictionary app. I’m a vocabulary junkie, so I’m always looking up new words, and a dictionary comes in handy all the time. This is an app that I actually use on a frequent basis.
This is very different from an app that I think I could use. Once, a long time ago, I found a really cool app that had 3D models of the brain. I could rotate and zoom in on different parts of the brain, and I thought it was incredibly useful! Who knows when I might have to look up where the hippocampus is located, right? I never actually used it. I would have liked to, but in reality, it didn’t pan out.
Be honest: do you actually use the app constantly?
2. You would miss it if it was gone.
A great way to figure out which apps you actually need is to reset you phone and carry it around for a week. When you find yourself whipping it out to look up a word, or play a round of Angry Birds, jot the apps down. You might find that the apps that you would actually miss when they were gone are a lot fewer then you think.
3. The app actually brings you joy+happiness.
Is there a game that’s just so well done that you smile when you play it? Is there a high-quality to-do app that makes completion of tasks really fun? Keep them. But be sure that you ask yourself “is this app actually making my life better/happier?” If the answer is anything but a resounding “Yes”, cut it loose! Reclaim the digital and mental real estate and have a squeaky clean phone. You’ll never go back to the rubbish.
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Author: AndHeDrew, If you would like some more great tips on living life on purpose, being more productive, and becoming the person you want to be, check out AndHeDrew’s free e-book, “Slapping Yourself Upside the Head” which you can download here:

Image: David Castillo Dominici /

Article Categories:
Applications · Guest Posts


  • What about my contact list?!?

    I guess I could just email it to myself and reload it all later.

    Great idea about cleaning out your phone. I don’t think I use 5% of the apps that I have. I mean, the level is cool and all and the zippo is really neat, but I showed some friends when I got the phone and haven’t touched them since.

    Thanks for the great article.

    • prepay

      I’m glad you liked the article!
      I’ve just stopped downloading new apps completely, I know the apps I like to use and that’s it. My wife says to me quite regularly “look at this app I’ve got” but unless it serves a practicle purpose I’m not interested 🙂 We published a similar article on the 27th of march, take a look you may find something helpful within it

    • prepay

      Regarding backing up your contacts, what handset do you have?

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