Most resolutions revolve around physical self-improvement—diet, exercise, and the like. Why not take a breath and tend to your digital health as well? Here are some ways to make your online life a little more manageable, so you can take better care of your colleagues, customers, and friends.
Use A Password Manager
Every time there’s a security breach we are warned to choose new, unique passwords for affected apps and websites. If you’re not gifted with an eidetic memory, good luck remembering them all. Password managers can store passwords for your email, banking accounts and social sites like Facebook and Twitter. LastPass and LogMeOnce are a couple of good options.
Unplug Your Screens
When you’re passionate about your work, it’s easy to spend a good chunk of the day in contact with a screen or electronic device. We won’t judge you if you spend all day in front of a screen, go home and eat dinner in front of Netflix, and finish by reading an ebook in bed, it’s great for your body and mind to shake it up. Grow some plants, take a cooking class, visit museums and flea markets, go bike riding, play board games, and cultivate other screen-free interests. Bonus points if you can power down your phone while you’re at it.
Unplugging is hard, so start with a simple resolution, like avoiding social media an hour before bedtime.
Commit To Showing Up
Are you one of those people who RSVP “yes” to every tech meetup and Facebook invite but fail to attend? Being a no-show just to ease your FOMO isn’t just rude. It can impact the ability for others to attend and for organizers to cater appropriately. Use a calendar app to plan your time and don’t overcommit.
Once you do show up, be present. It’s easy to spot newbies standing alone. Don’t leave them standing there. Introduce yourself and invite them to join your small group or introduce them to others. Networking is not just about what you get out of it but what you can offer also.
Contribute To The Community
Tech folks are generally a benevolent bunch. Whether helping paint a new coworking space or running meetup groups for love not money, people in the startup scene is generous with their time and money. If you would like to get on board, think about how you can help and commit to concrete actions like helping refugees, employing traditionally disadvantaged folk in your workplace, or instituting a workplace scheme where staff can receive time off to work on volunteer projects.
Keep Your Devices Clean
If you’ve ever had to get sticky milk or melted chocolate from in between keyboard keys, you’ll you’ll know the pain of a dirty laptop. After spilling red wine on my laptop, I now have a rule against drinking and typing to avoid a repeat performance. Buy a keyboard protector for a handful of change, invest in a laptop bag or cover, and clean your device regularly. Don’t forget your mouse, smartphone screen, and headphones.
Change Your Workplace
A change of location can be a great way to revitalize your working week, especially if you don’t have a traditional office. Try a coworking space, library, or coffee shop. To stay in touch with your colleagues, look at reducing time reading and writing emails and explore options like Slack, Google Hangouts, and Sqwiggle. Team chat software builds stronger bonds, while email piling up feels like a chore.
If you do have an office and don’t have flexible arrangements, give yourself the opportunity to explore your neighborhood in your lunch hour. Try 5 minutes of stretching for each hour of sitting or a quick walk before work each day.
Have Fun With Colleagues
Most of us spend more time with our colleagues than our families and friends. Yet it’s easy to fall into a trap where your only downtime involves alcohol after work, a boring routine that can leave you worse for wear the next morning. It’s true some people don’t like to socialize with their colleagues, but I recommend getting to know the people I work with. Ask around for suggestions. Go for a picnic, bring some board games into work, start a book club, or have a weekly brown bag lunch together outside of the office.
Keep Your Resume Updated
The tech industry moves fast. It’s also one of the few sectors that is always hiring. Keep your industry knowledge current by attending training courses and conferences. Research companies that you might like to work for in the future and don’t limit yourself to your country of residence—most tech jobs are easily transferable internationally. If you haven’t looked at your resume since you started your current job, it’s not a bad idea to have a look at it with a fresh eye.
Think About Your Digital Legacy
No one wants to think of their own mortality, but it’s inevitable. Do you really want your mother who calls the Internet “The Google” to figure out what to do with your email and social media accounts? It’s no joking matter—one famous online writer, Leslie Harpold, had her sites disappear after her family decided to let them expire. Facebook has a legacy option where you can nominate a friend to manage your account upon your death, while Twitter requires a person authorized to access them on behalf of your estate or an immediate family member to contact them directly.
Then of course there’s your email accounts, and retail accounts like Apple’s iTunes, Amazon, and eBay and probably a handful more that you use every that you never thought you’d ever cancel. Fortunately, there’s a suit of services that can help you with everything from managing your digital accounts to donating your online music library to a loved one.
While you’re contemplating the afterlife, it’s a great time to also take a few minutes to register for organ donation.
Resolved: Let’s All Do Better
It’s hard to change established habits and practices. I’m going to try to avoid using my mobile phone in bed, and I plan on sitting out on the balcony more often rather than in front of my heater. Now you tell me: What are your intentions for 2016?