Today we begin a new year and regardless of what your personal resolutions may be, make sure that you make some tech resolutions for 2014 that will keep your devices in their best shape as you use them to streamline your life. From apps that keep family documents in one place, purging your friends list on Facebook, being better about your passwords, and —gasp- unplugging, here are 15 things to resolve to do this year for a more zen digital life.
16 Tech Resolutions for the New Year 1 of 17
Make sure your New Year's resolutions include some tech resolutions that will help you live a more zen digital life in 2014!
Strive for a paperless life 2 of 17
Whether you want to be more green or just want to streamline your ability to access information across devices at all times, tools like Microsoft One Note is more than just for note taking. OneNote is a tool that comes with Office 365 Home Premium and is accessible via the internet or the app to help you capture everything from spreadsheets, maps, charts, photos, travel itineraries, and so much more. It's a lifesaver that allows you to search all your notes to find exactly what you need fast and even share it with those who need access.
Image courtesy of Microsoft
Keep important family documents in one place 3 of 17
Having been to the ER a few too many times with our youngest, I know how important it is to have family documents in all one place and thanks to KidsLink, I have my family's health insurance information, health records, allergies, and digital copies of things like birth certificates and social security cards for each member of my family in one place. KidsLink is a free app that can be downloaded from mykidslink.com and can be used immediately to store as much information as you want.
Image courtesy of KidsLink
Create a shared family calendar 4 of 17
In this digital age, my personal lifesaver that helps me stay on top of our family's busy schedule is Cozi. It does a fantastic job of keeping me organized throughout the year because it updates in real time, and can be accessed via the web, a mobile app for Android and iPhone on the go, and it is synced to my husband's work Outlook calendar, my Google Calendar, and also integrates the kids' school calendar. Cozi also features a helpful to-do and grocery list that can also be shared, and their newest feature — Cozi Contacts — serves as a shared address book that allows users to import addresses from your phone or from other programs like Excel or Outlook. Hint- Cozi Contacts is the best way to organize your contacts for next year's holiday cards!
Image courtesy of Cozi
Purge your Facebook friends list 5 of 17
How many of those people do you really interact with on a regular basis? It's time to trim the list and if you're worried about hurting feelings, don't worry. If they're not interacting with you on Facebook that often, they probably won't notice.
Apologies to friends whose faces are shown above! Don't worry- I'm not purging you from my account!
Password protect all devices 6 of 17
What would happen if you lost your phone, tablet, or laptop? Chances are you don't want to think about losing your precious devices but if you did, you would want to be sure that your documents and information was harder to access by whomever swiped your gadget. Make it hard by password protecting every device you own just in case they're ever lost or stolen.
Change your passwords monthly 7 of 17
Now that you're using Cozi, set a calendar reminder to help yourself and other family members remember to change all passwords monthly to keep your information safe from hackers.
Image courtesy of Cozi
Save passwords securely 8 of 17
I know it's a pain to remember to change your passwords monthly but even harder to remember what in the world they are. As tempting as it is to store them on your computer or phone, please don't! Not only are you compromising your information in case your devices are lost or stolen, but passwords are also easily found if your devices are hacked. Instead, store your passwords securely on a free service like Master Lock Vault, a free secure password storage service that keeps your information safe in the cloud but readily accessible through a single password. And yes, you should also change your Master Lock Vault password monthly!
Image courtesy of Master Lock
Be redundant about your backup 9 of 17
If you're backing up to the cloud or to an external hard drive, that's a great start but you really want to be doing both all the time for maximum protection of your information. I like services like Carbonite where online cloud backup is done for me on a regular basis for a monthly fee. It backs up my whole system at once and then performs regular updates. At the same time, I also back up my data to an external hard drive that is stored securely in my home just in case — because you can never be too careful.
Image courtesy of Carbonite
Just say no to public wifi 10 of 17
It's great to be able to connect whenever and wherever but do you know who else might be on and what they might be doing? There's always a chance that they're phishing for your personal information. Just say no to public wifi and use a hotspot instead. If you don't always need the constant access that a hotspot provides, look into Karma, a pay as you go way to securely connect and use as much data as you need as often as you need it. One huge bonus of Karma is that the data you buy never expires and you can earn more data by sharing your Karma access with others.
Image courtesy of Karma
Set up automatic credit monitoring 11 of 17
It's great if you set up a Cozi calendar reminder to check your credit at least twice a year, but it's even better to use a service like Identity Guard to keep tabs on your credit and monitor your personal information to be alerted to any instances of identity theft immediately. While you're at it, be sure to also monitor your kids' identity since kids are like blank slates whose social security numbers are highly desired by identity thieves who can rack up a huge amount of damage well before you might even know it. Most parents don't find out that their kids have been victims of identity theft until they apply for college loans and by then, the damage has been done. It is reversible but Identity Guard keeps tabs on your family's credit and provides immediate alerts.
Image courtesy of Identity Guard
Review your credit card statements 12 of 17
How carefully do you examine your credit card statements? The recent Target scare probably made us take a close look at our statements this past month but it's always worth scrutinizing each and every charge (and the amount) on your online statement to avoid fraudulent charges, double billing, and incorrect charges. For a primer on how to read your credit statements, Adventures in Education's How to Read a Credit Card Statement serves as a great tutorial that will show you what to look for on your credit card statements.
Image courtesy of Adventures in Education
Perform a full scan of your computer 13 of 17
Sometimes when we're browsing online, we click around without thinking about what we might have just installed on our machines that is slowing it down. A full scan of your computer's hard drive will show you what's taking up precious hard disk space so you can optimize your machine's performance.
Update your antivirus protection 14 of 17
Did you know antivirus protection software needs to be renewed annually? Licenses from companies like BitDefender, Trend Micro, Norton, Symantic, and McAfee need to be current in order for them to be valid and provide protection from the most current threats from hackers, phishers, spammers, and identity thieves that exist in cyberspace.
Image courtesy of BitDefender
Update Adobe Flash Player and Acrobat Readers 15 of 17
Adobe, the creator of Flash Player and Acrobat Reader, have been criticized for the past year and a half for the constant security holes in their software that are making computers vulnerable to cybercriminals who are always trying to access your personal information. By running the most recent versions of the software that can be found as downloads on the Adobe site, you'll be installing security patches from the companies that will help protect your machine.
Image courtesy of Adobe
Inspire your kids to learn more about science, technology, engineering, and math 16 of 17
Since kids are naturally curious about science, technology, engineering, and math (aka STEM topics), why not foster their curiosity with engaging, open ended toys that promote learning about these subjects. While these ten toys will inspire STEM learning in kids while allowing them to further develop spatial abilities, critical thinking skills, logic, and reasoning which are skills they need for life, you can also work together to investigate topics online, introduce your kids to friends who may be experts in the field, or just let them take apart old and broken electronics to get a look at what's inside.
Image courtesy of LittleBits
Unplug for Digital Wellness 17 of 17
Finding time to disconnect from email, social networks, text messages, and the other forms of electronic communication that we're so used to can be hard but can be so restorative. You don't necessarily need to take a digital sabbath and unplug for a day or even a weekend. Putting down your device for an hour is even helpful! Here are 9 reasons to unplug in favor of digital wellness in the New Year!
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