Your brain may make New Year’s resolutions hard to keep, but that doesn’t stop us from promising to improve our lives each December. As we enter a new year, make sure you don’t forget about bettering your digital life as well. What are some good technology habits you could adopt and bad ones you should give up? You don’t need to think too hard—we’ve put together a list of tech-resolution ideas to give you a head start.
1. Keep the fitness tracker on your wrist
A fitness tracker can help you bolster that classic resolution, to exercise more. The trouble is, these wearables frequently find their way into drawers within months of purchase. To prevent this from happening, we’ve collected a few ways you can get more out of your fitness tracker: Rearrange your exercise data in charts and spreadsheets, share your achievements publicly on social media, compete against groups of friends, and more.
2. Back up your data
We all know we should back up our data, but many of us put it off until it’s too late. Don’t wait until your phone falls into an river, never to be seen again—now’s the time to save secure copies of the information on your various devices. To make sure you get everything, check out our guides to backing up your laptop and backing up your smartphone.
3. Do more with your photos
We constantly snap photos, but frequently leave these shots languishing in our smartphone archives. Make 2018 the year you dig into your old images more often. Both Google Photos and Apple Photos provide tools to help you assemble your best shots and video clips into highlights reels, which act as digital photo albums to preserve your special memories.
4. Learn a new skill
Picking up a new skill is a classic New Year’s resolution, and technology can help. Between free videos and dedicated apps, you can learn guitar on YouTube or learn a language on your phone. Other free tutorials teach you to write code, work on image editing, improve your cooking skills, and absorb more information about the natural world.
5. Write helpful reviews
Leaving a thoughtful review doesn’t just feel cathartic—it can also steer your fellow consumers toward good choices and allow your favorite podcast to bolster its reputation. During 2018, help others by writing more ratings and reviews: Give your favorite restaurant five stars on Google Maps, rate a business on Yelp, or review the gadget you just purchased on Amazon.
6. Recycle your old gadgets
Instead of letting an old phone, tablet, or laptop gather dust, you can give it new life in a variety of ways, from a home security camera to a dedicated alarm clock radio. If you’d rather just get rid of it, don’t dump it in the trash. See if your device’s manufacturer offers a recycling scheme, like Apple and Samsung do—and before you turn it in, first wipe all the files on it.
7. Be nicer on social media
Interactions on Twitter and Facebook can all too easily descend into name-calling and mud-flinging, especially when politics is involved. Make 2018 the year when you add some positivity and civility to your social media interactions. Rather than picking a fight, try picking someone you want to encourage or congratulate instead.
8. Take your security seriously
The last 12 months haven’t been great for tech security. Going into the new year, protect your digital life better. We’ve got tips for securing your online accounts, email inbox, smartphone data, and even your house and yard. If you do nothing else, these general security ground rules alone can protect you from a lot of online threats.
9. Try new tech
We like to stick with what we know because it’s convenient and familiar, but new technology can open your mind. In 2018, consider switching from iOS to Android (or vice versa), trying out Linux on an old computer, or even launching a Raspberry Pi project. Any of these will lift you out of your tech comfort zone, potentially revealing a whole new digital world.
10. Clear out the (digital) clutter
Make 2018 the year when you declutter your digital life. Remove apps that you don’t use from your phone and laptop, delete ancient emails, free up storage space on your devices, and so on. This winter cleaning will make your devices run more smoothly—and leave you less distracted as a result.
11. Start writing regularly
Dreaming about writing is a lot easier than actually sitting down and putting words on the page. In the new year, sign up for a service like Medium, WordPress, or Blogger and start sharing your scribblings with the world. If you think you’ve got the next Great American Novel inside you, then one of these apps can help whip your words into the right shape.
12. Limit your screen time
As much as we love tech, it can eat up way too much of our time. This year, try to maintain a better balance between using your gadgets and spending time in the real world. At lunchtime, go for a walk instead of browsing Facebook. Put the screens in another room during family dinners. Or follow some of the advice in this guide to curing smartphone addiction.