Out of Sight, Out of Mind

About a year ago, I disabled most Facebook notifications on my phone. I wouldn’t be notified unless they were activities directly involving me, like tags or comment replies. This meant I received almost no notifications from Facebook and opened the app less.

After a few months of reduced Facebook usage, I decided it didn’t need a spot on my home screen and removed it. And now, I don’t even think about Facebook when I’m using my phone anymore. I think I cut down my Facebook usage by like 99%.

Earlier this year, I was looking around for a new Android launcher and a post on Reddit caught my attention. It was a launcher called Niagara and it promised a new way to use my phone while allowing me to maintain my minimalist setup. Since there was a free version, I gave it a shot.

Setting it up was easy, all I had to do was pin my favorite apps. They recommend a max of 8 apps so you can access all of them without scrolling, but there’s no limit to how long you want the list to be. After that, you’re good to go.

Initially, it felt weird to be using my phone with so few apps available to access from the home screen. I felt restricted. I was constantly adjusting my pinned apps list to show the apps that were essential to me. However, since I loved the launcher’s aesthetics, I continued using it. After a couple of days, I learned to embrace this self-imposed limitation.

Because I only had access to essential apps on my favorite list, this meant I didn’t have any time-wasting apps on my home screen. The added friction of having to scroll through a list to find an app was good enough to deter me. Consequently, I stopped wasting so much time on my phone.

A couple of months ago, Reddit killed third-party apps and one of the casualties was Reddit is fun, an app I had been using for over a decade. I chose not to download the official app (because it’s trash) and continued to browse Reddit using old.reddit.com. It was no RIF, but still better than the official experience.

Since accessing Reddit now meant opening the browser and then loading up the site, this added friction caused a significant reduction in my Redditing habit. Over time, I stopped browsing Reddit on my phone and my toilet breaks have become 90% shorter. I guess I can thank Reddit for a healthier anus now.

Now for entertainment during a meal, I read an ebook instead (yay). Also, it just occurred to me that using the phone in the toilet and then taking it out during a meal doesn’t seem the most hygienic of activities 🤔

But like all good things, there’s always something to balance it out. As a result of having more time to do other things on my phone, I find myself reaching for it just to play a quick game of Six Match more frequently than before.

To be honest, I don’t even know why I play it – the game isn’t getting updated, I’m not getting higher scores, and there is no benefit to playing it other than to give me something to swipe while waiting for something else to happen.

After writing this paragraph, I decided to delete Six Match (again). But in the back of my mind, I know I’ll find some other way to waste time in the future. It’s my forte.

Am I recommending you clean up your phone? No, but if you find yourself addicted to your phone and it’s affecting you negatively, it’s something you could consider. The superior option is to improve your self-control.

By the way, there’s no need to use a fancy launcher to do what I did – you can simply remove things from your home screen manually, or put them into folders. How you do it isn’t important, as long as you achieve the intended result. However, Niagara does look sweet.

I guess this concludes my Android phone check-in. Who knows what it’ll look like in another few years?


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