Welcome to 2018! If you’re like most folks, you’re probably hard at work on your usual list of resolutions: eat less, hit the gym more, stop buying stuff you don’t need.
So what the heck are “tech resolutions”? Simple: They’re tech-oriented habits, some that need adopting, some that need breaking. Most of them are pretty easy, too, at least compared with the likes of “no more pizza.” Because, come on: pizza!
In no particular order, here are some tech resolutions worth following in 2018.
Detox your inbox
How much time every day do you spend swiping away junk email? (Answer: too much.) Let’s make this the year you banish the junk altogether.
One option: Every day, unsubscribe from five unwanted mailing lists. (In any given email, look near the bottom for an “unsubscribe” link. If you’re an iOS user, you can also look for an “unsubscribe” option at the top of the email — though that merely shoots an unsubscribe request back to the sender, which doesn’t always work.)
Yep, just five per day. Each one should take all of about 20 seconds, so you should be able to knock them out in under two minutes. After a few weeks of this, the flow of junk mail should have decreased significantly.
Looking for something faster and more automated? Check out Unroll.me, a free service that will scan your inbox for subscriptions and let you ditch unwanted ones with a single click. It works with everything from AOL to Gmail to Yahoo and also has apps for Android and iOS.
Be nicer online
We all know how toxic the internet can be. The question is, are you part of the problem?
I get the need to vent. I get how irritating it can be when someone ranks all the Marvel movies and totally gets it wrong. (Seriously, “Ant-Man” ahead of “Iron Man 3”? Are you kidding me?)
In 2018, resolve to just let that stuff go. No author, no video blogger and certainly no fellow commenter deserves to be called fat, crazy, stupid or worse just because you have a difference of opinion — or even if he or she gets something wrong.
If you must weigh in, think before you type. Think about the person at the other end. Think about the impact of spreading negativity. Ask yourself how you’d feel to be on the receiving end of what you just typed.
Last year, the women of CNET revealed, and it’s an eye-opener. A sad, shameful eye-opener. Don’t be that guy. Don’t be that person. Be nicer online, because the world is hateful enough without you adding to it.
Put down your phone
I’m as bad as anyone: I use my phone when I’m standing in line, when I’m sitting on the throne, when I’m eating alone and, sometimes, when I’m eating with others. Pitiful.
Make no mistake: I think phones are incredible tools, but they’re sucking up all our spare time — they may be reducing the time we spend with our friends. (They may also be making us sick: There’s some evidence that excessive phone use can cause anxiety and depression.)
I’m going to be 50 this year. I need time to slow the hell down, not continue to evaporate. So I’m going to work — and it’s going to be hard — to use my phone less. One tool I’m hoping will help: Moment, an app that tracks overall phone usage and teaches you how to reduce it. (Alas, it’s iOS-only; Android users should check out QualityTime.)
Speaking of phones, appreciate the one you have
Here at CNET, we’re always talking about the latest and greatest phones, which can lead to an almost irrational “gotta-have-it” mentality.
I’m proud to say I’ve already broken that habit, as I’m still using theI bought over two years ago. And you know what? It’s great! It does everything I need it to, and, even better, it’s paid for.
The key lesson, and it’s one that can apply elsewhere as well: Learn to appreciate what you have instead of constantly yearning for what you don’t. Modern phones create a special kind of FOMO, but indulging yourself in constant upgrades gets expensive and just leads to more hassles. (, anyone? , anyone?)
To paraphrase folk-singer Stephen Stills: If you can’t be with the phone you love, honey, love the phone you’re with.
Always use a cash-back service
Recently I dined at one of my favorite restaurants, one I rarely get to because it’s about 25 miles away. After I paid for my food, I got a notification from Dosh, a cash-back app I signed up for a couple months back: I’d just received a 7 percent rebate on that check. Without doing anything. Without even realizing that restaurant had a cash-back option. And that was on top of the cash back I already get from my credit card.
In 2018, consider taking full advantage of every available cash-back tool and service. When you’re shopping online, use something like BeFrugal, Ebates or TopCashback. When you’re out and about, use Dosh, Drop or Yelp Cashback.
There’s gotta be a catch, right? These services do monitor and sell some information about your shopping history and habits. But guess what: You’re already sharing a ton of that same data via different means (like, say, browsing Google, shopping at Amazon and having a credit card). This doesn’t bother me in the slightest, but if you prefer to keep your spending habits private, well, no cash back for you.
To learn more, check out theseand these .
Be safer behind the wheel
Sobering fact: US traffic fatalities hit 40,000 in 2016, and I’ll wager the 2017 tally is even higher. Texting while driving may not be the only reason — but it’s one reason.
In an ideal world, you put your phone away whenever you’re behind the wheel and don’t touch it again until you’re parked. In the real world, there are two things you can do to reduce your chances of adding to that awful statistic:
Mount your phone on your dashboard. That’ll at least keep it up near eye level, far better than glancing down at your cupholder, passenger seat or wherever you typically keep it. It’ll also simplify screen-taps, even though you shouldn’t be tapping while driving. Just saying. Check out these.
Enable “car mode.” Your phone is smart enough to automatically detect when you’re driving and automatically respond accordingly to incoming text messages. That leaves you free to focus on the road. Android users, here’s; iPhone owners, learn .
Save printer paper
This one’s easy: Every time you print a noncritical document, print it “2-up,” meaning two pages shrunk down to fit on a single page (book-style). Look for this setting in the print dialog.
Likewise, if your printer supports automatic duplex printing, take advantage of it. You’ll get documents printed on both sides of the sheet instead of just one. (Mix in 2-up printing and you can get four pages for the price of one!)
Finally, ask yourself if you really need a hard copy at all. The best way to save paper is to “print” your documents as PDF files, which you can then store electronically. This capability is built into most software; just select “save as PDF” as your preferred printer.
OK, those are my tech resolutions! Now let’s hear yours. Tell me how you’re going to leverage tech for a better 2018.