The start of the new year is an ideal time to create better habits--and that's true for tech-related habits as well. Looking forward, these are the geeky things I'm hoping to achieve through the new year. Maybe you'd like to join me in some of these as well?
- Get rid of old gadgets and other tech. My home is fast becoming a gadget wasteland. I still have old cellphones, laptops that came with Windows XP, and more old software discs that have no prospects of ever being run again. It's time to declutter. My town has an e-recycling program, but you can check the EPA's site for places to donate or recycle electronics. Remember to wipe your drives before getting rid of your gadgets, though.
- Master the tech I already have. After paring down, I want to make the most of the gadgets I'm keeping. I'm pretty good at saving time with Windows and browser keyboard shortcuts, but I'm sure there are tons of tricks I'm still not using that could make a big difference in my productivity. Among them: automating Windows with AutoHotKeyand finding the apps that will speed up everyday tasks like searching Windows and copying files. (Stay tuned or send me suggestions if you have any favorites!)
- Use technology to get healthier. Part of making the best use of technology is letting it make life easier beyond work and into other aspects of our lives. I think maybe it's time to give a sleep and fitness tracker a try. At the very least, I'm upgrading to the FitBolt premium subscription; the web app and browser extension reminds you throughout the day to stretch and do quick exercises, but the $3/month premium version adds in reminders like "time to have a snack" and "stand up straight"--things I forget to do just about every day.
Also, as much as we love technology here at ITworld, too much of a good thing is too much. So "unplugging" as often as I can and taking regular breaks is going to be my non-techy tech-related resolution this year.
- Get to inbox zero…at least once a week. Maintaining inbox zero--an empty, processed email inbox--every day seems more of a challenge than it's worth, at least for me. But clearing out my inbox once a week? That might be doable. This GTD workflow I wrote about on Lifehacker has been working (on and off) so far for me. But, still, I'm going to create a weekly calendar reminder to tame that inbox.
- Learn to code (or continue learning to code). In 2014, "learn to code!" became almost a battle cry. As a nation, we need more coders--and more diverse ones at that--and to teach kids computer science, because even if they don't grow up to be computer or software engineers, CS teaches important critical thinking skills. But for an adult who has no interest in pursuing a formal IT career? Coding is still a useful pastime. While forcing my brain to stretch, I might actually make something useful (or not, but it doesn't matter much). It's also kind of fun…sometimes.
- Go paperless. I don't think I'll ever go completely paperless, because printouts are a kind of backup. But I'm vowing to stop the constant streams of paper that aren't important for future reference--things like non-tax-related bills. My scanner is on 24/7 now for similar documents coming my way.
- Keep passwords updated and secure. Ugh. Updating passwords is the last thing anyone wants to do, but that's why this is a resolution (if we enjoyed doing it, we wouldn't have to resolve to do it). Dashlane's new one-click change-all-your-passwords-at-once feature makes it really easy to turn insecure passwords (like your pet's name) into more secure ones. The feature's new and requires you to queue up to get the feature (over 38,000 people currently in line ahead of me!), so sign up soon. Maybe we'll be able to check this item off our resolutions list this year.
- Get my family to update passwords. Know what's even harder than updating and securing your own passwords? Yup, your children's and perhaps your partner's. Teaching good password habits is an ongoing exercise, but installing Dashlane, LastPass, or 1Password for them helps.
- Organize my desktop and folders. Can you tell most of these resolutions are all about getting organized? That's what the new year does to you. I've got "Pokemon Trading Card Game Online" as a desktop shortcut for some reason and it's got to go. I'm also setting up a better structure for my photos folders (e.g., 2014 for the top folder under "Photos," then subfolders for each month such as "2014-12," then subfolders for each day like "2014-12-10" and/or a folder for a specific event, such as "2014-12 Trip to CA.") and other folders. I'm vowing to keep more logical structures like this and moving older files I no longer need into archive folders and discs (properly backed up, of course. Hopefully.).
- Automate all the things. Finally, I want to stop wasting time this year and the answer to that is automation. I'm going to look for new/better IFTTTand Zapier recipes to streamline my workflow and keep all my myriad services and apps connected and humming along without my intervention.
What are your goals or resolutions for 2015?