Technology plays a key role in our daily lives so the way we use it is so important. Whether it’s protecting your data better this year, or spending less time glued to your phone, here are four tech habits you can introduce in 2019.
1. Digital declutter
If your email notifications look like this, then it’s time to clean out your inbox:
The number one offender for inbox clutter is newsletters and mailing lists. But don't worry, you can always unsubscribe. Depending on how many newsletters you’re signed up to, you can go through each one and individually unsubscribe. Scroll to the bottom of the email and there should be an ‘unsubscribe’ link. If this seems too daunting (i.e. you’ve signed up to hundreds of newsletters), a good place to start is planning to unsubscribe from five unwanted mailing lists each day.
If individually unsubscribing is going to take too long, there’s an app which does it for you. The unroll me app scans your inbox for subscriptions and lets you unsubscribe from the emails you don’t want, and keep the ones you do want, in a few simple clicks. It works for Outlook (including Hotmail, MSN, & Windows Live), Gmail, Yahoo!, AOL, iCloud and Google Apps. And is available on both Android and iOS.
Decluttering can work for computer desktops and apps too. At the start of the year, I like to go through the files on my computer and delete anything I don’t need, and anything I want to keep gets put into a ‘2018’ folder so it’s hidden, but I can still find it.
The same goes for your mobile apps. Having apps all over the place with no rhyme or reason can make it hard to find what you’re looking for, so putting them into folders based on categories can save you a lot of search time, plus it looks neater.
2. Privacy check
If you aren’t already protecting yourself online, it’s time to start. Here are a number of ways you can look after your privacy:
- Activate privacy settings on social media: your friends, mum’s, cousin’s, husband’s, best mate doesn’t need to know when your birthday is. Head to the settings section of your social media accounts and choose your preferred privacy settings. On Facebook, you can ensure only ‘friends’ can see your details, posts and photos.
- Update your passwords: so many of us use the same password across multiple accounts. And adding different numbers to the end of the same password doesn’t count. If someone hacks your email, you don’t want them to be able to use the same password to access your bank account. Next time you sign up for something, make sure to use a new password.
- Use two-step authentication: this means using more than just a password (single factor authentication) when logging into online accounts. It could be anything from a code sent to your mobile device or security question, to a fingerprint scan. Some online services will automatically prompt a second factor, but for others you’ll need to activate it yourself in the security/privacy settings of online accounts. You can read more about this on the Turn It On website.
3. Reducing screen time
After a long day at work staring at a computer screen, it’s nice to give your eyes a break. This might mean setting technology-free zones in your house – like no phones at the dinner table, or no watching TV in bed. You can also customise the notifications settings on your phone so that you’re not bombarded with messages all through the night.
If you’re lacking in the self-control department, there are apps you can use to track your phone usage. For iOS users, Moment tracks your overall phone usages and teaches you how to reduce it. This is an iOS app, but Android users can try QualityTime. You can also see a breakdown of where you’re using your data on the My Optus App.
Reducing screen time can also mean getting up and getting active. Whether that’s getting a stand-up desk at work, going for a walk to stretch your legs at lunch, or doing some exercise when you get home rather than switching on the tele. In fact, your smartphone can actually help you reach your fitness goals – check out this article I wrote on 5 of the best fitness apps to help you get moving.
4. Don’t touch it
There’s just no excuse for using your phone while driving. If your car has Bluetooth capabilities, pair it to your mobile. This will allow you to make and receive calls, handsfree.
If you don’t want to be disturbed at all while driving, you can also enable auto replies:
For iOS devices, there is a ‘Do Not Disturb While Driving’ function.
To add the function, head to Settings > Control Centre > Customise Controls > and tap the green + symbol next to Do Not Disturb While Driving.
Once added, you’ll need to decide when the function will be activated in Settings > Do Not Disturb.
There are three options:
- Automatically: your phone will detect when you’re driving and automatically block notifications, sending an auto-reply message. Be wary that it might detect when you’re a passenger too, or riding public transport.
- While connected to car Bluetooth: if your car has Bluetooth, Do Not Disturb will kick in when your phone connects to the car.
- Manually: you can manually turn the function on and off.
The default auto reply will be sent to anyone who tries to text you while driving:
For Android devices, the Do Not Disturb function is similar – it blocks notifications and allows the user to have control over which alerts are allowed and when.
You’re able to automatically enable Do Not Disturb while driving using the Driving Detective app. The app automatically detects when you’re in a moving vehicle and toggles the Do Not Disturb setting on. It also allows you to customise whether the app should block all notifications or let priority contacts and alerts through.
Again, be conscious that the function may activate when on public transport or riding in the passenger seat.
If you need your phone for navigation while driving, you can grab yourself a mount that’ll connect to your windshield, aircon vent or dashboard, so it’s sitting at eye level.