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Since iOS 14 was released to the public a few weeks ago, the internet has been full of screenshots of hardly recognizable interfaces filled with color, creativity, and joy.

It’s even created a new category of app in widget builders and customizers.

And just as I expected, lots of Apple purists are Big Mad. 😝

I love it, both the screenshots of creative iOS 14 setups and the fact that stuck up nerds are annoyed about it.

Because what we’re seeing play out right now?

It’s the epitome of Work Brighter’s mindset around technology.

Here’s what I mean and why it makes me so happy.

About the Work Brighter Mindset

Working brighter (instead of just working smarter) is all about balancing productivity with unproductivity.

By unproductivity, I mean things that we don’t necessarily think of as “work” or “productive,” but aren’t counterproductive either. The things like self-care and fun, that may not be productive but are still more than worthy of our time, energy, and attention.

First of all, because there’s more to life than being productive.

But second of all, because that “unproductive” stuff often does make us more productive anyway, just in a more indirect way than literally working on your to-do list.

You know how Elle Woods said happy people don’t shoot their husbands?

Well, they don’t burn out as often either. πŸ™ƒ

And that’s the kind of stuff I’m all about.

Working Brighter with Tech

Since Work Brighter started off as a “work smarter” productivity blog, and since I’ve always been a big tech nerd, there’s no shortage of stuff on this site about how to use technology smarter.

In fact, one of the features getting the most hype with iOS 14…Shortcuts?

I’ve been teaching how to use that app since before “Shortcuts” even existed, since it was known as Workflow pre-Apple acquisition.

If there’s a way to use technology to make a job or task easier, I’ve always been all over that stuff.

But the big thing about working brighter is that it’s about MORE than working smarter.

Where productivity turns into Hustle Culture is when there’s nothing but productivity, but working smarter. When productivity is looked at as an end in and of itself instead of a means to an end. When there’s no end to your to-do list or workday in sight.

Going from working smarter to working brighter means learning to prioritize and value more things that “aren’t productive” (like tech aesthetics).

That’s the main value of working brighter, but holding this mindset also means believing:

  • That fun can be productive, and even if not, it’s just as valuable on its own
  • In the power of customization and questioning “defaults”
  • There’s no shame in holding preferences that aren’t actively harmful to the world
  • In decluttering the unimportant to make room for more of the good stuff

Are you starting to see how they all come together in a perfect combination of brightness with the trends iOS 14 has started?

Ways iOS 14 Helps You Work Brighter

1. Changing default settings

First of all, iOS 14 has given us deep customization features that go beyond prettifying your homescreen (which we’ll talk about in a sec).

Finally…FINALLY…Apple has started letting iPhone users change the default app for things like what browser links open up in and what email app to compose a new message in by default.

In the past, if you were like me and used Spark for email, or if you used Google Chrome instead of Safari for online browsing, you couldn’t set that as the default the way you could on a computer. But that’s now changed.

And given that was a barrier for a lot of people in switching to a third-party app instead of using the native ones built-in, I hope this encourages more people to search for the best app that works for them instead of going with defaults, set on default settings.

2. Encouraging essentialism

Next up, some of the less hyped updates to app and homescreen organization are super in line with essentialism, decluttering the unimportant. Now, Apple had already been on a path towards this, but the updates are much more noticeable.

I still remember how delighted I was when I was digging through Settings one day and realized it can now “offload” apps you don’t use as often without uninstalling them completely. (My phone’s always low on storage, so every bit…or byte πŸ˜‰…counts.)

And now in addition to freeing up your storage from infrequently used apps, you can do the same with your homescreen.

Now that there’s the App Library, you can delete an app icon from your homescreen (AND the folders within it) without deleting the app itself.

Whenever you need to use that app, you can just flick to the first page of the App Library to view different categories of apps, or swipe down from there to search or view all apps in alphabetical order.

You can also choose to hide full pages of your homescreen if you have multiple set up. This lets you keep custom folders and sorting without seeing them all the time. (A great use case for this is Rosemary Orchard‘s page of travel apps that she hides when she’s home and displays when she’s on-the-go.)

And finally, the App Clips feature that lets you download “clips” or “previews” of apps to perform specific apps will be great for apps that you only interact with now and then in specific scenarios.

For example, it’s always been annoying to have to keep the Zipcar app on my phone for the 10 minutes twice a year that I use it. But if their app supports Clips, I can delete it and instead grab the clipped portion from a code on the Zipcar when I need to (hypothetically, not sure if this specific app supports this yet).

3. Widgets wall to wall

Finally, widgets. Ah, widgets. The most visible and popular feature from the update. But it’s popular for good reason.

Your homescreen is the “center” of your device, this device you likely use for hours a day, between work and play. And yet you could never customize this center to YOUR work and play (other than changing which app icons are there).

Now there’s a whole new world opening up to iPhone users. We can decorate the home screen the way we decorate our actual phones.

They can tend towards utility, towards aesthetics, or the brighter combo: a little bit of both.

It’s made me completely rethink the way I use my phone. A lot of apps I use have great widgets, and I essentially don’t need to go into the apps themselves anymore.

For example, the weather app. I only ever use it right before I go outside, to check that the weather’s cooperating and to figure out what I should wear. I only need the hourly view of the rest of the day for that. With a widget for that, I save myself a few taps and seconds, which can easily add up.

Are you working brighter with iOS 14?

If you’re ready to get nerdy with iOS 14 and customize it perfectly to your life, first of all, I’m excited for you! Like I said, this is using tech the brighter way. πŸ˜€

If you want to reign in your shiny object syndrome while you do so, you might want to check out Tool School, my workshop on choosing the best tech tools for you and your work flow.