By Cammie Jones


With the approaching New Year, decluttering and tidying is always something that comes to mind. How can I clean up my act, my house, my body or my attitude? Where does one start? After years of trying to do ALL of these things as a fresh year approaches, I thought starting with the phone would be a useful and attainable goal to kick off being organized in 2020.

1. Delete Emails
It is difficult for me to delete emails. So, when I look at how many email messages are on my phone I get a little overwhelmed. What if I need to refer back to an email for some reason? What if I can’t remember where today’s meeting is? Nine times out of ten I never go back to the email so why do I feel the need to hang on to it?

Schedule time to sit down and delete those messages, starting with 50-100 each day, until they are knocked out. Stay calm and you will find in a few short days your inbox will have a reduced amount that is easier to manage.

2. Update Your Voicemail Message/Delete Messages
I am sure you have had the quick text from a friend: “I couldn’t leave a message because your voicemail is full.” Phones today don’t store enough voicemails. At least I don’t think they do. Maybe cell phone providers rely on users erasing old voicemails right away. I mean, they can read our minds, right? Don’t they know we don’t do that even though we should?

After listening to saved voicemails, decide to get rid of the unnecessary ones. If you have kept a few for valid reasons, decide to either act on the call, delete or save it for later. An updated recorded voicemail message is another good way to usher in 2020. Keep it short and succinct.

3. Delete Unnecessary Apps
Before my daughters had phones, my phone became the docking bay for all their favorite apps. I ended up with a lot of unnecessary apps. When each of my girls got their phone, I deleted as many of those as I could.

In addition, I bet you (like me) have downloaded apps to your phone for a wide variety of reasons such as getting discounts at a store to tracking your food intake. Assess your current apps and decide if they are worth keeping. If you don’t use them anymore, get rid of them. You can always add them back later.

4. Organize Your Apps
How many times have you had to search your phone to find an app? Your home page is prime real estate, according to Better Homes & Garden article, “The Smartphone Detox & Declutter” (August 2019).  Position your favorite and most used ones on the front page. Wondering how to do that? It’s easy: just touch and hold any app until it jiggles, then drag it to another location on the same page or if moving to another page drag it to the side of the phone (left or right) where you want the app to go to.

There are various ways to organize your apps— alpha order, order of importance with the most used apps on the main screen or even in folders via certain categories. Maybe you want to have all your social apps in one folder or all your financial apps together. It is a pretty simple process to do this. For iPhone users visit for step-by-step instructions.

5. Delete Photos
This may be one of the toughest and most time-consuming tasks for decluttering your phone. Taking inventory of your photos is the quickest way to delete any that are not necessary. I know I have taken photos like a recipe or a picture from the book I was currently reading to share with a friend. Those “for-the-moment” pictures can go. Move  other important or special photos to a cloud storage or another storing service to free up space on your phone. Then, categorize the images you want to keep on your phone for use in the future (i.e., birthday Instagram shout-outs, family videos, etc.).

When you complete these five steps, it’s important to back up your phone. Your phone is like a small computer where you have many things you need for daily life. Be mindful to back it up so that you won’t lose anything precious to you. When life gets hectic and seems out of control, at least your phone will be organized, neat and ready to assist you for the upcoming year!

This article appears in the December 2019/January 2020 issue of Augusta Family Magazine.
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