Five Tips For Organizing Your Phone

We just wrote a blog post about a week ago about organizing computer files. You may wonder, if your phone is basically like a pocket computer, why would we treat this differently?

In reality, we use our phones a lot differently than our computers… and we have a few specific tips for your phone in particular:

Tip 1: Find ways to get stuff off it automatically. 

When was the last time you plugged your phone into your computer and backed it up? Oh, never? Yeah, me either.

What you need is an insurance policy for what’s on your phone that should come off your phone very regularly that you want to keep. For me, it’s photos and document scans. Once downloaded, I can delete and know 1) I’ll have more space on my phone and 2) if my phone dies a sudden death, I can still get at everything I need.

If you record lots of voice memos or edit lots of iMoives or have other kinds of stuff you do often, it may be worth figuring out how to get it off your phone easily and (ideally) automatically. (PS if your texts have some sentimental value like mine do, get those off for sure. No judgement here.)

Tip 2: If you don’t know what the app is for, delete it.

Your iTunes App account (or Google Play account I’m sure) saves records of what you download so worst case scenario, you can download it again later if you decide you need it after all.

I have a similar rule for songs on my iTunes: if I play the first ten seconds and a) I don’t know what it is or b) really like it, off it goes.

It seems silly but every time you scroll by that app and wonder what it is, that’s another ten seconds of your life wasted. A lot of apps mean a lot of periodically wasted ten seconds, which adds up.

Tip 3: Turn off notifications you don’t need.

Nothing makes me feel overwhelmed more than looking down at my phone and seeing all the red notification dots (let alone the numbers inside them).

Usually when you install an app, the notifications come turned on. But do I really need to know my friend Shane just saved $1 use the Ibotta app? Nope. Take the time and turn off notifications that annoy you (which you can do in your phone settings and/or the app settings).

Tip 4: Organize your contacts (with a better system than what came with your phone).

If you are like me and have lots of duplicate contacts, finding a system to manage them (even paying a few bucks for a good app) is going to save you time and headaches.

I know, your phone came with a contacts management system… but your Windows computer came with Internet Explorer and did that stop you from using another (better) browser? No way. Organizing your contacts means when you are ready to throw a party or simply do your part in the calling tree, the task takes less time and all that saved up time you can do something way more fun with.

Tip 5: Regularly look at your ‘storage’ and ways you can cut down on it.

Just like anything, running your phone with some storage space to spare is going to make it run better. If I can keep 4-5G free on my phone, that not only makes sure my phone runs better but that I don’t run out of storage as I’m trying to film, say, my niece’s concert. How many times have you had to quickly delete stuff off your device only to miss a moment?

My culprits for heavy storage usage are music (currently 21G), Messages (6 G) and Podcasts (5G) so it makes the most sense to start deleting there in my case.

By keeping your phone clean, you can use it more effectively, like a tool in your business and life, versus some junk drawer you have to dig through. 

Setting Technology Boundaries

“Are those all your notifications?!” A friend looked at my phone, horrified.


This is my phone. I know, I'm overwhelmed too.

This is my phone. I know, I’m overwhelmed too.

As a business owner (or heck, just someone who lives in the world), it can be challenging to figure out tech manners and a tech personal code of conduct.

I recently decided to set a couple personal boundaries with my phone:
1) Turn off email notifications. Me getting an email is as frequent as my dog thinking about food.
2) Sleep with my phone outside my bedroom.

I posted this ‘boundaries’ idea to Facebook and got some great ideas from others about it.

Differentiate Between ‘Work’ and ‘Personal’

As you see, I sort of started to do this here (‘Personal Social’ versus ‘Social Media’) but did not fully commit. My friends have ideas on this.

From Sarah:
I use different apps for personal and work email. Work email goes in an app I have to open a folder for — means it isn’t right there in my home screen every time I look down.

From Jeremy:
My notification light is different for different email accounts.

From Jesse:
I turned off all my social media notifications (except for work) and that helps a ton!

Use Do Not Disturb… And Tell People

My friend Kathy brought up the point about modeling behavior. The adage ‘What you put up with, you end up with’ applies to tech too. Here are some ways people made themselves incommunicado without trying to make people uncomfortable.

From Jake:
There is a do not disturb function on most phones. Between 11 pm and 6 am it stays silent.

(Note, there was a lot of variation as to times people had this turned on. Let’s say I can now tell which of my friends are more night owls and which are more morning people.)

From Brian
I use DND on my phone from 10pm until 9am with certain numbers programmed to break through in case of real emergencies.

From Kathy:
I let people know verbally and in written communication that I will respond to them, for instance, M-F 9-5, and ask them to make personal contact at those times so they aren’t frustrated at no response at odd hours.

Just Saying No In Other Ways

If you feel like you’ve ‘tried everything’ this may be your section.

From Breanna:
I don’t check email on my phone.

From Anne:
Turn your phone screen gray. More here:

Various people on my friends list:
Don’t have a phone at all or do something relatively extreme to the phone you do have (among the responses: hammers, hot oil, don’t tell anyone your phone number).

All in all, it was fun to figure out how people figured out their own personal ‘rules’ with cell phone technology. If you have any other ideas, please feel free to contribute them as a comment here!