iPhone Organization 2018

I’ve been using an iPhone SE for the last seven months, and in that time I’ve never really organized the apps. My previous phone, the iPhone 6, only had 16gb of storage, so I was always pretty conscious of what could and couldn’t live on it. But the SE has a lot more space, so I generally just downloaded whatever I wanted and didn’t care much for clutter. Search worked okay, but it was mostly just many pages of little icons that only vaguely seemed related to one another.

I toyed with just putting everything in folders and giving them names, but I found this arduous and confusing. Also, many apps defied categories. Try to do this, and five minutes in you’ll find yourself with an app that simply has no home among other apps.

So, anyways.

Why Organize a Phone?

What’s the point of an organized phone anyway? Who cares if it takes an extra second to find an app? So, that’s one. Efficiency is nice. But mostly, I wanted to think of my phone as doing what it’s best at, and leaving other things to different devices.

I thought about it, and came up with a short list of things my iPhone SE does really well:

  • Capture
  • Quick replies
  • Taking photos and sharing them
  • Music + Podcasts
  • Quick Access to Data(OneNote, Scrivener)
  • Maps
  • Health + Activity Tracking
  • Wallet Apps

Then, I thought about the things I had apps for, but the iPhone SE really isn’t very good at:

  • Watching streaming video for more than a few minutes
  • Editing Photos
  • Reading anything longer than a tweet
  • Longform writing
  • Really, doing anything for more than a minute.

After I put these down, I had a realization. The iPhone isn’t really meant to be used for more than 60 seconds at a time. Not only that, I should think about the iPhone as a tool for capturing and quickly sharing text and photos as quickly as possible, and then spending more time with that data on my PC.

You can use the iPhone has your only computer. But I don’t. It’s one of four computers I own, if I count my TV and my Kobo as computers. But since I have them, watching video on a TV is better than the iPhone, and reading articles and books are better on the Kobo than on the iPhone. And my Surface is where I’m most comfortable writing and planning. But the iPhone is often where I discover this content and have ideas, so what I should use it for is quickly pushing this content to the right place.

So with this as the reason for an organization, I went about cleaning things up.

Apps I deleted

  • Streaks - I love streaks, but it’s just one too many things. I’ve got room for one everyday ritual” app and Productive has just stuck a little better with me.
  • Byword - I like Byword, but I ran into a couple of frustrating syncing moments, and Files/Drafts does the job pretty much just as well anyway.
  • Most games. I’ve kept Pokemon Go and HQ Trivia, because those simply can’t be played anywhere else. But most other games I played could be played on a PC or on Switch.
  • IMDB. I think I opened it once in the last year?
  • Video streaming apps like Netflix. I’m not watching these on my phone. I’m watching them on TV. But I kept Youtube, because I like to add/delete things from Watch Later” and that just doesn’t work well on a TV.
  • Documents 5 - A great app with one great secret purpose: downloading Youtube videos to watch offline. If you want that, it’s indispensable. But I don’t, so it’s gone.
  • Upwork. Even if I do go back to this, it only barely works on the phone.
  • Last Time - Basically it’s a reminder app to tell you when you last did a thing. I gave it a shot but just didn’t use it much after the first week. And that was four months ago.
  • NextDraft - It’s a great newsletter service but is better suited to reading on a bigger screen.
  • Twitter - no good has come of this.

With that all gone, I set about organizing what apps were left into folders that kept a certain context. Now, I’d tried folders before, but this time, I wanted to organize it by time of day, and where I am.

Here’s my organization scheme, built both into folders and in Launch Center Pro.

Home Row

  • Drafts 5
  • Launch Center Pro
  • Camera
  • Safari (for quick googles)

The rest are in folders in roughly this order:


  • Productive
  • Carrot Weather
  • Headspace
  • Wunderlist
  • Calendar
  • Stylebook


  • Carrot
  • Productive
  • TeeVee
  • Letterboxd
  • Day One
  • UberEats
  • Sleep Cycle


  • Pokemon GO
  • Cineplex
  • Uber
  • Lyft
  • Highball
  • Google Maps
  • TTCWatch
  • Meetup
  • Yelp
  • Universe
  • Opentable

Quick Replies

  • Facebook Messages
  • Whatsapp
  • Outlook
  • Messages
  • Phone
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Tumblr
  • Google Hangouts
  • Contacts

Taking photos and sharing them

  • Instagram
  • Photos
  • Motion Stills
  • Gifwrapped
  • Onedrive
  • Annotatable


  • Spotify
  • Music
  • Plex
  • Overcast


  • Onenote
  • Onedrive
  • Files
  • Scrivener
  • Day One
  • 1password
  • Workflow
  • Pocket (this is how I get articles from the web to my Kobo)
  • VLC


  • Carrot
  • Fitbit
  • Forrest
  • Health
  • Nike Training
  • Biko
  • MapMyRide
  • Pause

Wallet Apps

  • Amazon
  • Starbucks
  • Ebay
  • Bobby
  • Mint
  • RBC Mobile
  • PC Optimum
  • Indigo
  • Scene
  • Ticketmaster
  • MEC
  • Freedom Mobile
  • Wallet App
  • Paypal

But for how long?

I wanted to spend some actual time doing this specifically so that can be the last time I do it, at least for a while. New devices bring different layouts so it’s probably not something I can avoid, but I’m glad I went through this. It already feels a lot less like just a random grouping of ideas and a pointed tool that can help me get my ideas down and quickly sent to the right places.


May 3, 2018