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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Work Relationships

How to Make Your Phone Feel New Again in 15 Minutes or Less

person looking at phone courtesy Hero Images/Getty Images

Ready for an easy spring cleaning task that you can tackle today? First, think of one object you usually keep within arm’s distance, something that you use upwards of 47 times a day (and probably never think to “clean”). You’ve probably already guessed that I’m talking about your phone.

Now, this tip isn’t for literal cleaning, though, of course, you’re more than welcome to pull out a screen wipe and swab that sucker down. It’s of the reorganizing and decluttering variety.

Exciting, I know. But if you’re anything like me (four screens of apps never used, voicemails lingering from last year, and 21 unplayed podcasts), your phone definitely needs a refresh.

The little things really do help in the long run: Setting aside just a couple of minutes for this can save you time (no more searching for your favorite apps, for one) and frustration (no more storage full messages right when you’re taking the perfect picture), leaving your brain free to deal with other more important matters.

Plus, if you take the time to do everything on this list, you’ll end up with a phone that feels like new. OK, fine, newish.

If you have:

5 Minutes

  • Delete any apps you haven’t used in 90 days. Be ruthless; remember, you can always download any you end up missing.

  • De-clutter your screen by grouping apps by category (such as fitness, finance, social media, or games).

  • Choose a fresh new background image.

Still have time?

  • Free up storage space by deleting old podcasts and text messages.

10 Minutes

  • Scroll to the bottom of your pictures and start deleting any images you can’t imagine wanting to look back at five years in the future (like those food photos from the restaurant you already forgot the name of!).

  • Install a cloud-based auto photo sync app such as Google Photo, so that your photos sync to the web without wires, or effort.

Still have time?

  • Add those new contacts to your address book that you’ve been putting off for months (and then scrap those business cards).

15 Minutes

  • This is a hard one for me (and a number of people I know, too): Go through backlogged voicemails and delete any that you don’t need.

  • Update your voicemail greeting (hint: It helps to write out what you’re planning to say, so that you avoid pauses and “ums” and multiple recordings).

  • Go through your pile of old notes and to-do lists and trash all the outdated files. It’s annoying, but worthwhile; when you open those apps and see glorious white space again, you’ll remember why spring cleaning is a thing.

Still have time?

  • If you’re using Wi-Fi, go to the app store and hit “update” for all your remaining apps. This’ll fix any bugs and keep your phone running smoothly.

  • How’s your screen protector and phone case? If anything’s cracked or looking dingy, why not update it by placing a quick Amazon order.

Sometimes we focus on big, intimidating projects (hello, closet overhaul, garage clean out, and inbox mastery) rather than the small tasks—right under our noses—that can make just as big of an impact in the longrun.

When you’re able to use your phone without feeling as if you're generating another to-do list of how to get it up to speed (delete old messages, make storage space, finally update those apps), you’ll feel a sense of relief; it’ll make those 15 minutes feel more than worthwhile.

Not to mention, if you do go all out and actually wipe down that screen, it really will help to give it that fresh out-of-the-box feeling (and for a lot less money than a new phone).