My Minimal iPhone Approach: First Step to Digital Minimalism

Denzel Markeise
5 min readNov 28, 2023

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Have you ever felt overwhelming by the constant buzz of notifications, the myriad of apps vying for your attention, and the digital clutter that seems to accumulate on your iPhone? I certainly have. It was a typical day when I found myself mindlessly scrolling through app icons, realizing that my device, designed to simplify life, had become a source of complexity. This epiphany marked the commencement of my venture into embracing a minimalist approach to my digital life, and I decided to kick-start this transformation by focusing on my iPhone usage. With a deliberate effort to streamline my digital interactions, I embarked on a journey to uncover tranquility in a world inundated with technology.

Photo by Denzel Markeise

Apps, it’s all about

Apps these days.

I recognized that the first step was to eliminate unnecessary apps. A straightforward method for achieving this is by navigating to your iPhone storage settings and sort through your ‘last used apps’ to streamline and tidy up your device.

Photo by Denzel Markeise

Not only does this method assist in identifying the least-used apps, but it also allows you to confidently delete the apps that no longer serve a purpose in your digital life.

Notifications

In a world dominated by technology and constant connectivity, our smartphones have become indispensable tools that serve multiple functions, from communication to entertainment and productivity. However, the very convenience that these devices offer can be overshadowed by the incessant stream of notifications, each vying for our attention. The initial appeal of a neatly organized and decluttered phone can quickly be undermined when the remaining apps demand constant interaction.

Photo by Denzel Markeise

The first step toward regaining control and restoring simplicity to your digital experience is to address the barrage of notifications. While some notifications are undoubtedly useful and necessary, many are designed to grab our attention and keep us engaged with the app or service. Social media platforms, in particular, are notorious for bombarding users with notifications, often triggering a sense of urgency that may not align with our actual priorities.

To reclaim a sense of tranquility and focus, it’s advisable to disable notifications for all apps, starting with those that contribute the most to the constant influx of alerts. In the case of many individuals, social media applications tend to be the primary culprits. While these platforms can play a valuable role in social connections and information sharing, the constant barrage of notifications can become overwhelming, detracting from real-life interactions and personal well-being.

Unless your profession or business heavily relies on social media marketing and real-time engagement, it’s worth considering the benefits of reining in these notifications. Turning off notifications doesn’t mean abandoning these platforms entirely; rather, it allows you to regain control over when and how you engage with them. This deliberate approach empowers you to check social media on your terms, rather than reacting to every ping and ding as if it were an urgent call for your attention.

By taking control of your notifications, you not only reclaim a sense of simplicity on your phone but also gain the freedom to focus on tasks and activities that truly matter. This intentional approach to digital engagement can contribute to improved mental well-being, reduced distraction, and enhanced productivity. As you navigate the digital landscape, remember that technology should serve you, not overwhelm you. Adjusting your notification settings is a powerful step towards cultivating a healthier and more balanced relationship with your smartphone.

Essentials

Reclaiming control over your digital life is a transformative journey, and a significant milestone in this process is the shift from reactive to proactive engagement with social media. Once notifications are turned off, the experience of using platforms like Instagram undergoes a fundamental change. Instead of being prompted to check these apps incessantly by the lure of notifications, you regain the agency to decide when and how you want to engage.

Without the constant interruptions of notifications, the reflex to compulsively open Instagram diminishes. The absence of a buzzing or chiming phone creates a mental space that allows you to be more intentional about when you immerse yourself in the social media sphere. This shift from reactionary usage to purposeful interaction is liberating, as you no longer feel compelled to respond to every ping from your device.

I’ve narrowed down my notifications to essentials: calls, messages, weather, and emails (which deserves its own discussion in a later post). As for social media messages from non-contacts, if they’re not in my contacts, they can wait — immediate attention isn’t warranted.

Conclusion

Now, when you visit social media, it’s a conscious choice — a decision made on your terms. This intentional approach not only reduces the frequency of your visits but also changes the nature of your interactions. Freed from the urgency imposed by notifications, you’re more likely to engage with social media content in a focused and meaningful way. Rather than mindlessly scrolling through endless feeds, you approach each session with a specific purpose or timeframe in mind.

This newfound control over your social media usage also provides an opportunity for self-reflection. You may find that the quality of your online interactions improves when they are not dictated by the constant influx of notifications. Without the pressure to immediately respond to every comment, like, or message, you can respond thoughtfully and genuinely, fostering more meaningful connections.

Moreover, the reduced frequency of social media visits gives you the gift of time and attention — resources that are often drained by constant digital distractions. You may discover new interests, hobbies, or simply enjoy being present in the moment without the constant pull of your smartphone. This intentional disconnection can lead to a heightened sense of well-being, as you regain control over your time and mental space.

In essence, taking control over your social media engagement is a liberating act that reshapes your relationship with technology. It transforms these platforms from potential sources of distraction and stress into tools that you use purposefully and consciously. By deciding when and how you engage with social media, you become the master of your digital domain, fostering a healthier and more balanced lifestyle.

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Denzel Markeise
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System Administrator. Family Guy. Content Creator. Keeping the blue screens away and the servers caffeinated.