My digital tidiness - Mobile Minimalism


The hype of getting more minimalistic in digital life and do "digital detox" is rooted in a desire to get off of a drug. Social media and other apps are designed to hook us up.


We feel worse because social media is engineered to make us feel worse, our attention spans drop significantly since the instant gratification of likes and other 30 seconds videos destroy our dopamine response system in the brain. In addition, it is addictive and consumes a lot of time, once you're in the maelstrom.


I personally am also affected of this. My addiction: YouTube.

Often I just scroll through YouTube for the sake of watching something, only to stop the 40min. video after 5 minutes because it's not "enticing" enough. It gets increasingly harder to catch and maintain my attention. Lately I've even discovered that there's not really content anymore, which I would really like to watch. Yes YouTube has a lot of interesting content which I would have loved to watch, but my brain somehow got "saturated" with YouTube content. There's just nothing really interesting anymore, when I watch YouTube, it's mostly short videos.


Instagram is another devil. I usually don't have Instagram installed and usually don't use it. However from time to time I check my Instagram to check on updates. That's when I install Instagram on my phone. Now I already know that I will waste my time with Instagram, so I know to uninstall it once I'm done with checking up. But before I knew that  I noticed myself being magically dragged to watch Instagram in idle mode.


That's maybe a big thing: People can't be in idle mode anymore. They need constant stimuli and with a high frequency of small dopamine bursts. Of course, that's not everyone and many people are reflected enough to get that they might be addicted or tend to overuse social media etc. But still, I would guess, (without hard proof), that many people are not aware of their mobile phone usage.


Because I am aware of my flaw (quite a long time already, actually), I tried to combat my YouTube addiction with different tactics already. I tried blocking apps on my PC, on my mobile phone, etc.


However, something stuck with me in general:

  • The Niagara Launcher for Android, and
  • Block App (an app for Android)

I'll explain briefly what those apps are about: 

Niagara Launcher

The Niagara Launcher is a small launcher which tidies up your home screen. It makes it possible to hide applications and show only your most important apps. When scrolling down, you get a alphanumerically sorted list of your apps. You can hide apps from this list by long-tapping the app and selecting "hide app". It's very handy to keep your whole setup tidy. Unfortunately, to use the whole functionality, you need to pay a little price (about $12). 

Block App

Block is an app which blocks other apps by schedule. So you can block e. g. YouTube, Netflix, Instagram, etc. and won't be able to open and use them while being in a blocking period. There are several different settings and also different kinds of blocks, so this has quite a lot of potential. Unfortunately, this app also takes a payment (about $5) to get the full functionality.



My mobile setup

In the first image you can see my home screen of my mobile phone. It has 4 apps, which are

  • WhatsApp
  • LINE Messenger
  • Telegram
  • AnkiDroid

Which are my most commonly used apps. The telephone/call app is actually not that frequently used, so I removed it from my favorites. The icons are white because I applied an icon pack. A tap on the clock opens the phones clock app, and a tap on the date opens a slide which shows the next appointments. Then you can click on the first appointment to open your calendar app (in my case, Google Calendar). 

Note how I don't have any status bar, because its hidden by Niagara Launcher in the main home screen. When you open your app drawer, its shown again, as seen in the second image. 

Bonus: The Niagara launcher shows messages from your messengers on the main home screen beside the icon.


The Block App in the third image shows that I blocked Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime Video until every sunday.


See how clean my home screen is? The Block App helps me stop binge watching on my phone. Instead, I can do Anki reps or watch CrunchyRoll and immerse ;0)


The price of both app adds up in the time you save and can use productively, being aware of your idle mode, directing your focus to more important things. You start to use your phone more for productive tasks as a tool, rather than a idle mode stimuli generator.


I hope you were inspired by my article and start to become more minimal with your mobile phone. Or do you already have a productive setup? Maybe tell me about it!

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