Distraction-Free iPhone

At some point, I realized that my iPhone had become a distraction, and I decided to take some drastic measures to cut down on the distractions. Here are a few things I did to help make my phone distraction-free.

1. Switched to a blank home screen

Most of the apps I used most frequently were on my main home screen. There is plenty of room on the home screen to fit lots of apps. On the one hand, having my frequently used apps on the home screen made it easy to start one. On the other, seeing the other apps was distracting. If I wanted to look at my email, I might also see Facebook, and that would lead me to browsing what my friends were up to when I should have been checking my email.

I solved this by moving all but 4 of my apps off the home screen, and into a single “Apps” container on the second screen. I made my home screen entirely blank, except of the four apps I regularly use which sit on the bar at the bottom.

My new iPhone home screen

This was a paradigm shift for me. I now only saw the most basic apps: my email, calendar, and LastPass. Everything else was gone from view. I began to note a marked decrease in distractions.

2. Use the built-in search or task switcher to start an app

When I need an app that isn’t on the home screen, I use the built-in search feature of the iPhone. I swipe down to pull up a search window, and begin typing. I might type “Maps” to pull up Google Maps for instance.

iPhone search

Although this is a 2-step process (swipe down and start typing), it turns out to be faster for me than the more traditional model. My Google Maps app was buried on a second or third screen, and I had to go hunting for it. It take me about two seconds to swipe down, type “maps” and tap the Google Maps icon. This also helps keep distractions to a minimum because I only see those apps that match the search criteria.

There is one drawback I have noticed. If I type “Face” in the search window, I get both Facebook and FaceTime. The load speed of the search varies, so when I think I am clicking on Facebook, I occasionally click on FaceTime.

3. Eliminated all but 3 audio/vibrate notifications

I turned off audio and vibrate notifications for everything except my calendar, and text messages, and phone calls. Before this change, my phone beeped or buzzed for Twitter updates, email messages, Instagram updates, FitBit updates, and pretty much everything else you can think of. It sometimes seemed as if my phone was constantly pestering me with updates.

I no longer get alerts for email. Or anything else except for calendar appointments, text messages, and phone calls. Instead, most of the notifications are set to banners and badges. If I happen to look at my phone—something I am trying to do less frequently—I’ll see things like Twitter updates, Instagram updates, email, etc. But I’m not notified of these anymore.

What a relief this has been. My phone has stopped pestering me. I am less distracted by it. And I think I am using it more effectively than ever before.


  1. Great idea to move your apps off the home screen. I use the “Hey Siri” function to open my apps that are not on my home screen. That may he even faster than using the search screen.

  2. Merry Christmas to you and your family, Jamie!
    I totally agree with your 3rd point. I even went one step further and disabled banners and badges so I only see e.g. new email when opening the mail app. Leaving me in control over the things I want to do/check/etc.
    I never thought of removing the apps from the home screen, interesting idea. Perhaps I’ll try that out…
    Anyway, enjoy your holidays!


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