Death is inevitable for each of us, so it’s important to think through how our death will impact those we love. Our phones contain information that relatives will need to access after death. It’s critical, therefore, to take steps to ensure that they can access your phone and easily find what they need. By doing a Swedish death cleaning of your phone, you are preparing for the worst and leaving an organized gathering of your items, rather than a muddied digital afterlife.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Tips for Organizing Your Phone’s Apps and Home Screen
- Tips for Organizing Your Photos on Your Phone
- Tips for Organizing Other Digital Files, Payments Methods, and Passwords
People often don't know how to stay organized for life or technology. If you want to help your relatives in the event of your death, do them a favor and leave behind a phone that will help them, not immerse them in a first-rate guessing game for where your vital information is stored.
Tips for Organizing Your Phone’s Apps and Home Screen
Without proper organization, the apps on your phone will look like a jumbled mess to your relatives. Try to make it easier for them to find things on your phone by utilizing the following tips.
1. Uninstall unnecessary apps
First things first, delete apps you don’t use anymore. Unused apps become unwanted clutter. To find and uninstall all at once, open the installed apps tab on your Google Play or Apple Store and scroll through it, deleting accordingly.
2. Use colors to group apps
One way to organize the apps on your phone is to place the same color apps together. People know that the Facebook icon is blue so if you group it together with the Apple Store and Twitter—both also blue—your relatives will know where to start their search rather than wandering aimlessly on your phone.
3. Group similar types of apps together
Assemble apps with the same theme in one row, page, or folder. You can place apps related to planning such as your calendar, reminders, and to-do lists in one folder, your reading apps in another, and transport apps like Uber in a separate one, and so on.
4. Apps in alphabetical order
You can also organize them in alphabetical order. This way your relative can scan the phone like a dictionary. If you’re using an iPhone, go the Settings app, click General, tap Reset, and then click Reset Home Screen Layout.
The apps will sort themselves in alphabetical order. If you have an Android phone or you prefer folders, label them A, B, and so on for apps with the same starting letter.
5. Text-based arrangement
Make as many folders as you need and clearly label them. Place apps such as the app store and any other purchasing applications into a “Shopping” folder. Place apps such as Google Maps, Uber, and Lyft into a “Transportation” or “Travel” folder.
Camera apps go into “Photography” and restaurant and fast-food apps go into “Eat Out.” Be sure your labels are clear and concise to guide your relatives.
6. Use emojis
If neither text nor colors appeal to you, you have the option of using emojis to label folders that hold groupings of similar apps. This option appeals to creative and fun personalities but it can be harder for your relatives to understand and identify your labeling system.
The emoji’s meaning should be clear so you and your relatives are clear about what it represents. For example, when labeling photography apps, you can use a camera emoji and for reading apps, a book emoji works well.
7. Use widgets
You can place widgets on your phone’s screens so you and your relatives can easily and quickly access information contained in your phone without additional clicks to navigate folders.
8. Three screens only
Organize the apps you use often on the home screen. On the second screen, arrange apps that you don’t use that often and place them in folders. Push the apps you use the least onto the third screen. Be sure to tell an immediate family member about this structured order.
9. A simple layout plan
Are you thinking of setting only one screen on your phone to avoid the hassle of swiping? Then assemble folders at the top of the screen, followed by most used apps in the middle and quick access apps at the bottom, which will be in the dock if you’re using an iPhone. This provides a simple but organized one-screen layout plan.
Tips for Organizing Your Photos on Your Phone
We all preserve special moments by taking pictures. Your phone probably contains hundreds of interesting and memorable pictures that your relatives might want to print out and reminisce over. If your photo gallery is impossible to navigate, they won’t be able to. Organize digital photos for yourself and the ones you leave behind.
10. Decide their fate right away
Sort, delete, and reorganize your pictures right after you take them or after an event concludes. You might have taken dozens of images of a particular flower you found in bloom in your garden but only one or two of the dozen are focused and usable photos. Instead of letting them all fill space on your phone, delete them as you go.
11. Divide your photos into albums
Your phone can contain thousands of pictures at once, courtesy of current storage capabilities. Finding a particular picture can be a real hurdle.
To be efficient, organized, and will help your relatives, create albums. You can make a separate album of your trips to different countries, an album for your flower photos, for food you’ve made, for inspirational quotes, and for the people you love.
12. Nest folders within folders
Create sub-categories of albums. If you have a folder labeled Food, divide it into Local and Foreign or Cake, Drinks, or other names to distinguish what is inside.
When arranged into folders this way, finding specific images will be a breeze. By default, images on a phone are assorted by date but placing relevant photos together might be a better option.
13. Give your photos meaningful names
Give each and every photo a name of its own. Images are usually stored with names like “_DSC0973.JPG” and since we don’t speak computer, you should name them.
For a picture with your friend, you can write ‘Ocean pic with Bea’. This takes more time, but makes your pictures instantly recognizable especially when transferring to a computer.
14. Install Google Photos
Other than being a good cloud storage drive, Google Photos can instantly organize pictures taken with your phone camera. It will sort portraits according to faces, grouping photos with the same people together.
Click on the “People & Pets” icon so you can sort them into one folder. You can also set this up to automatically sort when you upload pictures.
15. Sort according to month and year
This is a common file naming convention used by professional photographers. Rather than naming every photo on your phone, you can arrange them in folders marked with the month and year.
It will take less time and will be just as effective as names since it narrows down the month and year for your relatives. Be sure to use the same format for each folder. If you use Month, Day, Year for one folder, don’t use Year, Month, Day for another.
16. Special events filter
For special occasions, use a short tag for folders. For example, for a friend’s wedding, use the tag “Amy’s Wedding” instead of naming the folder by month and year so the grouping of photos will stand out and be easier to locate.
17. Set a photo cleaning day/week/month on your calendar
Set a reminder in your phone’s calendar for a day, week, or month when you will be sorting, deleting, and rearranging the photos on your phone. You should do this regularly to keep your phone up to date.
18. Back-up your pictures
Google Drive is just as good for back-up storage as it is a photo organizer. You can also import your pictures from Google Drive to an external hard drive or to the computer.
Frequently back up data as data can be lost at any given time. This allows you to keep important photos on your phone and ensure they’re also backed up in an external storage drive. Saving to both the cloud and a hard drive is ideal.
Tips for Organizing Other Digital Files, Payments Methods, and Passwords
Your phone doesn’t just contain simple apps and photos but also social media and payment apps like PayPal. These apps hold sensitive info that should be password-protected. If they are, however, an unknown password can make them inaccessible to your relatives.
By following the tips below, you can maintain your phone’s security while giving your relatives a way to access those apps and files.
19. Scroll through your contacts list
Go through your contacts and delete and update the phone numbers and other information in them. Complete their profiles by typing in missing details like email addresses or second phone numbers.
20. Browser settings
Choose a browser that respects your privacy such as Brave or Google Chrome while simultaneously saving critical log-in information such as your usernames and passwords. Regularly remove browsing history since history takes up storage space but ensure your relatives have an easy way to log in.
21. Declutter your email
Aim for a close to zero inbox in your email. If that isn’t possible, try deleting emails as they come in and are no longer needed. When you receive new mail, go through it and remove the irrelevant ones. Over time, unsubscribe to advertisements and other mail that clutters your inbox.
22. Install a password manager app
Password manager apps keep records of all account logins and other private information that you want to keep secure.
While there are many to choose from, 1Password will allow you to make an Emergency Kit with data required to access your account for trusted relatives. You can print out the kit and keep it in a secure location for your loved ones.
23. Utilize Google’s Inactive Account Manager
After a person’s death, Google will automatically hand over your account or accounts after a fixed period of inactivity to the person you designated. It’s a handy tool to use in addition to telling your relative about your Gmail account password.
24. Use the two-factor verification
For security, most people set up passwords, swipe codes, and similar security measures for access into their phones.
To help your relative access your phone, scan their fingerprint into your password reader so they have instant access without having to remember a main password.
25. Password-protected financial Excel sheet
Place all your transactions, payment accounts, bank accounts, insurance policies, retirement and investment accounts, security questions, loyalty cards, and other important details in a spreadsheet.
Add a password and place a record of it in a password manager or another safe place. Tell your relative where they can access this document.
Make It Easy For Your Family
Death is unavoidable but by using these tips, you make sure that your phone is organized for the loved ones who need to access it when you’re gone.
While it might sound unnecessary, it's this preparation that makes life easier no matter what comes next. Whether you're just trying to organize your digital life or you're curating your digital legacy, this is an important process.
Our lives are becoming increasingly digital. Not only are virtual funerals with GatheringUs easier than ever, but we're living more and more of our lives (and our afterlives) online. How can you improve your digital organization? It can be as simple as just completing a handful of the steps above.
If you're looking for more organization inspiration, read our guide on the best books on organization for beginners and how to organize thousands of digital files on your personal computer.