Clear Spaces for a Clear Mind

I get asked often for what’s on my Home Screen: what apps, what wallpaper, what layout. Now with iOS 14, I’m asked about my widget setup as well. I’ve shared some updates through posts and social media sporadically. A lot of my current setup is visually unchanged (except the wallpaper), but I wanted to cover the why of the Home Screen – where apps/widgets are placed, what stacks are being used, and now I’m using them together for a more streamlined, productive setup.
More “Clear Spaces for a Clear Mind”

New Normal

I’m sure all of you have been hearing the same thing: “We have to get used to a new normal.” I myself have been hearing this a lot lately as well. Whether it’s a global pandemic, social injustices, the attacks on media or science, or changes in our weather due to climate change, there’s a lot of “new” out there to get used to.

I’ve thought about this a lot as I’m getting older: norms change all the time. Our “new normal” – current crises aside – is much different than our parents grew up with. Much different than I grew up with. In the last 20 years, there’s been a rapid change in our daily lives for what we consider normal.

Twenty years ago, I was in college. That’s back in the days of AOL and dial-up.1 Communication was starting to really take off as “instant”, with instant messaging and cell phones. It was just at the precipice of it, and back then it was exciting to go through. Now, most of those same services we started with are gone and have been replaced by new things. And those new things are now old and established institutions within our social lives.

Think of where we are today: we have instant access to everything. We are a society that wants everything right now. We always want the new stuff. We want change immediately. We want justice immediately. And we are at quite a crossroads. The people who are making decisions – right, wrong, or indifferent – are by and large from a generation who didn’t grow up with instant. They have been adapting to a new normal for a long time, yet still want to hold on to the older ideals they grew up with. I’m sure that you and I will be doing the same as we get older.

We as individuals can adapt to a new normal at our own pace. Society not so much. Society involves more people and moves slowly, which is not the world we as individuals expect to live in today. As we are all striving to return to what “normal” looks like, we need to realize that things are changing rapidly and that a normal or a new normal might not even be what we expect. I guess for now we move forward as the pandemic rages, and wait patiently for what life will be like on the other side.

Maybe take a break from things online. Take some time to figure out connecting to others in the safest way possible. Reflect on what we are all going through.2 Do your part to help others through this, whether it be checking in on people or doing the simplest thing that anyone could: wear a damn mask.


  1. I simultaneously both miss and loathe that startup sound. 
  2. And realize that you might be in a position of privilege and life might be easy for you right now, where others are struggling. 

Clean Install

Every year, I hesitate on jumping on the betas. I worry about the bugs, the data loss, and all the ways it can screw with my devices. Then, inevitably, I end up jumping on them around beta 2 or 3. When the releases come out in the fall, I usually delete the beta profile and do an install with the release version. I follow the recommended steps for backing up, then just install the OS and carry on.

It’s been a long time since I’ve done a clean install: no restoration from a backup, installing everything as new, letting the cloud services work to bring the data back to my devices on a per-app basis. This is a time-consuming process, and the main reason I haven’t done it in so long. It might be all the way back to iOS 8 since I’ve done this. Those many, many years of little inconsistencies have lead to a lot of cruft, and I think this is the year to do wipe the slate clean.

Playing around with the iOS 14 beta so far, the App Library is a feature that hasn’t been my favorite. It doesn’t organize the apps in the categories which I would: I think that a banking app should be in finance, not in productivity. I think games should be a category, which include the Apple Arcade titles as well. I get they are pushing a brand, but unless you stay subscribed, that advertising will go away. The search aspect of it is great, but I can also use Spotlight search to find the apps I need.

But where it doesn’t live up to my desires, it does deliver on supporting a clean install. I don’t have to organize my Home Screen as I add apps one by one. I can hide pages and pages of apps, and organize my true Home Screen. This takes away a ton of pressure and mental overhead that I don’t need to carry with me. It will make the process far easier for me than ever before. And in that way, the App Library is actually a welcome feature for me now. I wish that same feature would be there on the iPad, but perhaps there are more plans for that in the future.

This year is the perfect time to do a clean install. I can finally shed the years of issues without having to worry about the time and effort required to get back up and running. I’m all for clearing clutter and minimizing what things I have in my life. And this fall will be no different.