The Tragedy of Our Home Screens

Take your monthly electricity bill you receive in the mail, put it in a nice frame, and hang it on your wall next to your family pictures.

Haphazardly tear out a page in a magazine, rough edges and all, and thumbtack it up on the wall above your fireplace.

That thick Yellow Pages monstrosity we find delivered on our doorsteps once every three months? Rip out seven or eight pages which have phone numbers you use on a regular basis and tape them to your refrigerator.

While most of us would never consider doing this in real life, we’re doing this right now with our computer desktops and smartphones. So many screens have dozens of shortcuts and icons blocking a view of something pleasing. Clutter. Distraction. Hindrance.

Most of us go to great lengths to purchase artwork or posters to decorate our home. I believe art is an extension of our personalities. It is a conversation piece for guests who visit our home. Art is a personal possession that should evoke a happy emotional response inside us, no matter how abstract the piece is.

How often are you looking at the artwork on your walls compared to what is on your phone screen or computer? If you’re like me, your nose is buried in a computer screen about eight hours a day, and you stare at a mobile smartphone for the other 16 hours. You could be looking at a calming, serene view. Or a sweet picture of your loved ones. Instead, you’re looking at a cluttered mess of icons and shortcuts, and perhaps a stock picture that originally shipped with your computer a half-decade ago.


My iMac desktop

My iMac desktop

My Google Nexus 5 Homescreen

My Google Nexus 5 Homescreen

These are two of the main screens I’m gazing at on a daily basis. They speak to me. At work, after I plow through a good chunk of tasks, I close all my programs and just stare at my 27-inch desktop. Quiet music is playing in the background, sometimes, and I’m able to take a two- or three-minute mental break.

And exhale.

I try to limit the icons distracting me from my curated view. On my desktop, I utilize a command-space keystroke that launches any program I want. On my phone, I have a customized folder of my frequently-used apps. Two taps and I get to where I want to go. And all this time, I’m enjoying an artsy view that resonates within me.

I challenge you to eliminate any icons blocking an unobstructed view of your desktop. Create a new folder in the documents section of your computer and move all icons there. Drag all of the icons on your phone’s home screen into one folder, and drag it to your dock at the bottom of your phone. Take two or three minutes to search online for high-resolution wallpaper of a scene that speaks to you. Try a scenic view somewhere that you would be inclined to hang on your wall in your home. Or at least find a view of something that you enjoy looking at for extended periods of time.

Eliminate the clutter, augment the enjoyment, and take dedicated breaks during your tech time to promote focus and mental acuity.