Weekend Projects

This Decluttering Project Is Long Overdue—And You Can Tackle it From the Sofa

updated Sep 2, 2020
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Apartment Therapy Weekend Projects is a guided program designed to help you get the happy, healthy home you’ve always wanted, one weekend at a time. Sign up now for email updates so you never miss a lesson.

I’ve become totally habituated to the red bubble that tells me I need to listen to my voicemails. If you leave me a voicemail, honestly, I may not listen to it until it’s irrelevant.

And the sad part is, the red bubbles on my phone don’t even really make me do the things they’re alerting me to do. If anything, I deal with them solely to get rid of the notification on my phone. But I guess that means they work: The pain of those red circles press you, eventually, to go through the motions you need to go through so you can make them disappear. While some red bubble notifications could stand to be muted altogether, others alert you to unheard or unread messages that might deserve some actual attention.

This weekend, you’re going to clean up your phone, taking care of those red bubbles, and maybe going a step beyond that, depending on how inspired you’re feeling. You’re going to get that fresh-start feeling that comes from being current on your (phone) life.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy

This Weekend: Clean up the voicemails, texts, and other notifications your phone.

Here are some ways to take care of those red bubble notifications, from simply doing what they ask you to do to other solutions that are a bit more under the hood:

  1. Go through the voicemails you haven’t listened to. Hit delete on ones you know you don’t need to hear, and listen to the ones you do. Jot down any notes of things you need to follow up on, or better yet, take care of call-backs (or text-backs!) on the spot.
  2. Go through your unread texts. Reply where you need to. Jot down a note if you prefer to do it later, or simply let some go if that feels appropriate. You can also delete already-read text conversations (like interactions with delivery drivers) from your list to make it easier to find the group chats and conversations you do keep up with.
  3. Look into any other apps that have notification bubbles and do what you need to do to get rid of them. While you’re at it, consider if those are apps that you truly need and use. For instance, if it’s a to-do app that you never got into but that still red-bubbles you to sweep the floors every evening, you might want to think about deleting the app altogether.
  4. Turn off badges to eliminate red bubble alerts on your home screen. If the notifications are all too much, you can just shut them off completely. On an iPhone, go to Settings > Notifications and toggle off badges. On an android device, go to Settings > Apps and notifications and then disable bubbles for any app you wish. You can do this for any app, including your email app. Goodbye, forever, red bubble with number in the thousands!

If you want to make your entire phone less appealing or distracting in general, you can turn your entire phone screen to gray scale. (Hey—no more “red” bubbles!) This is useful for deterring phone distraction when you still need to keep it on and handy.

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You can catch up with weekend projects right here. Share your progress with us and others by posting updates and photos on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #atweekendproject.

Remember: This is about improvement, not perfection. Each week you can either choose to work on the assignment we’ve sent you, or tackle another project you’ve been meaning to get to. It’s also completely okay to skip a weekend if you’re busy or not feeling the assignment.