10 important tech tasks for the new year. Take them off your to-do list!

For many of us, the New Year means new beginnings. That’s why many of us here are using the month of January to cross off what we can from all those endless tech to-do lists.

These are the kind of tech chores that we often put off, not necessarily because they take a long time, but because they get knocked over on our lists as we find other things that seem to need more attention. urgent. The truth is, some of these are actually quite urgent and can really save you a lot of headaches in the future.

With that, use each of these 10 ideas to give yourself the boost you might need to cross off some technical tasks, and start the year feeling a little more organized, a little more secure, or even a little more. happy.

Also, these are each a decent opportunity to feel a little more in control of our own lives these days. It is not nothing at all.

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Related: The To-Do List App I Stayed With For Over A Year

1. Clean up your technology

See? We start easily here!

I know we’ve been a lot more conscientious about germs on our phones, remotes, and keyboards over the past few years, so take a few moments to sanitize everything.

This article on the best ways to clean and sanitize your phone during cold and flu season offers very clear and specific advice for everything from gentle cleaning (add a few of these Windex electronic wipes to your cart, next purchase on Amazon) to high tech gadgets. like the coveted UV Phone Soap Phone Sterilizer, which kills bacteria and germs.

2. Clean up your inbox

Now let’s move on to virtual cleaning.

Every year around this time I share my amazing Inbox Zero Hack and every year I get thank you notes for it – maybe yours will be next! Just follow our free step-by-step guide to start the New Year with a cute, fat ZERO in your inbox. It’s so easy for Gmail users (or you can adapt it to other email programs), and I do it flawlessly every January.

If you have a lot of trash, you can also take a little longer to unsubscribe from unwanted subscriptions and mailing lists, or use an app like Unroll.me, which I still use as well. Just make sure to keep your Cool Mom Tech email subscription. (It’s not that you would think of opting out, is it?)

3. Label cords and chargers

When everyone in the house has their own game controllers, phones, tablets, laptops, portable batteries, etc., not to mention all the cords and cables that come with them, it can lead to a lot of fights around the house. Take a moment and tag each person’s belongings.

Of course, there are tons of solutions for labeling the cord.
– Lots of affordable tag labels on Amazon or even in your drugstore
– Just take a Sharpie from a strip of colored Washi Tape (above) and put it on.
– If you are really motivated, you can use a different color for each household member’s business.
– For less than $ 35, we invested in a Brother P Touch labeler a few years ago and it never has time to collect dust. In fact, I’m happy to have it for labeling other items around the house as well, like clear pantry storage containers and our mask hooks.

But that’s another article!

4. Create strong passwords! Yes, all of them.

Once again for posterity – create strong passwords. Do not use doubles. Also do not use children’s birthdays or P4SSW0RD. And certainly change them as soon as you learn of a hack or a security breach.

Need help? I cannot recommend 1Password highly enough! It generates all those intentionally hard-to-remember passwords for you, which you will never have to remember. You just have to remember a password – the one to enter 1Password. (You understand?)

4. Back up your data

When was the last time you backed up all your important documents, files and photos to a safe place? If you can’t remember it, it’s about time.

First, make sure your mobile (and desktop) settings automatically back up your files to cloud-based storage like iCloud, Google Drive, or Dropbox. Don’t skimp on space – it’s incredibly affordable and worth saving everything that’s important to you.

An external hard drive is also a very smart idea as a second backup location. We love to check with gadget testing experts if this is the best hardware, so take a look at external hard drive picks from Tech Radar, Toms Guide, PC Mag, and our friends at CNET, depending on what. you step back.

Seagate external hard drives get high marks all around, and I would check out the Seagate 8TB desktop hard drive (above) – lots of storage for photos, music, videos, documents, and even movies. (I’m a fan of getting more storage than I need rather than running out of space, but you might be able to get less than 8TB and save a bit.)

Related: How To Organize Your Office In Just 15 Minutes Every Day For A Week.

5. Manage your phone’s notifications or just turn them off.

If you plan to enter the New Year with fewer technological distractions, a smart way to be successful early on is to manage your notifications, including turning them off. I can tell you from experience, even as a fairly heavy user of social media, I am absolutely bored nothing by skipping notifications from Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Messenger. Nothing! Anything urgent, people can text.

Speaking of which, the Do Not Disturb settings on your phone are exceptional and we all really love the new iOS 15 focus mode. A lot of you haven’t taken the time to set yours up yet, so au less, take 5 minutes and find out how.

6. Clean your phone’s film

Whenever we ask members of the Out Tech Your Kids community how many photos are on their phones – wow we’re talking tens of thousands here! Make room for all the new photos and videos that are sure to arrive in the New Year by deleting old photos, screenshots, Instagram Story fools and whatever else you wanted to throw away.

Add your favorite podcast or a great playlist and do it!

You can also create a few new digital albums so that you can save photos of important documents (eg, your immunization card?) In one place.

Point: If you delete an iPhone photo, it will be deleted from your iCloud library at the same time. (Annoying, I know.) To get around this problem, you need to turn off iCloud sharing (which I don’t recommend) or use a second cloud service like Google Drive or Dropbox. In this way, you can perform a good photo purge on your phone and minimize the photos that you really want to find on your phone; then do a more thorough purge of things you really don’t need on your desktop.

Related: These 3 Tips Can Help You Simplify Your Tech Life. Try them out!

7. Print some favorite photos

We recently revised our big article comparing the 9 best personalized photo book services and it is totally worth it. Remove a few of these photos from your camera and hand them over to the grandparents or siblings who begged them.

You can also download the Chatbooks app and sign up for the Chatbooks Monthbooks service; for just $ 10-15 a month, they’ll take your favorite photos of the month and send you a new 30-page 5 × 7 ″ photo book (above) filled with them.

8. Recycle or donate old technology

With all the gadgets that we have accumulated over the years, you probably have a garbage drawer or a shoebox or a basket hidden somewhere. Browse it and find out what it’s all for and if you really need that busted 2008 point-and-shoot battery charger.


– EPA’s electronics donation and recycling site is comprehensive and helpful.
– Research and see if your city or county has an electronics recycling program like New York’s.
– If you have items in good condition, there are many organizations that could use them, like Goodwill or the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, which will allow you to ship more than 3 items for free. My family donates a lot to the Vietnam Vets of America, who will be picking up items in many areas (although they do check with Covid changes) and may take away many household items as well as electronics.
– Also check out Tech for Troops, which accepts non-functional laptops, older models of cellphones, mice, flat screens and more. For a small fee, they’ll also accept cracked scanners, copiers, printers, and monitors.

Related: Smart Ways to Tackle All the Cords Nests and Tangles in Your Home and Office

10. Do a big social media purge

Wait, you mean the divided state of political discourse in this country hasn’t already forced you to do this?

Seriously, if you spend time on social media, be sure to follow the people and pages that you really want to follow. We’ve found Instagram and Twitter to be easy enough to unsubscribe without people really taking notice if it matters to you.

If you don’t like the people who follow you, both services added a new option to “remove this tracker” (above) as an alternative to software blocking. (Gradual blocking means blocking and then unblocking immediately.) Just click on the three dots next to the person’s name to display the drop-down menu with that option.

For Facebook, if you need to stop seeing someone’s updates without completely breaking the links, try using the “stop following posts” option on that person’s profile versus the “no” function. friend, ”who keeps your relationship intact while sparing you the indignity of asking more for Candy Crush lives.

Or you know, just “unfriend.” It’s a decidedly terrible word for “disconnect” – maybe if you think about it, it’ll be easier to disconnect of people who do not arouse joy.

Bonus tip # 11: I suggest getting rid of any third party apps or services that let you know who is no longer following or following you. Unless you’re using your social accounts for business purposes, it seems like accessing this kind of information takes a lot of energy. You better spend that time this year doing, well… almost anything, besides checking your subscriber numbers every day. The people who matter in your life will stay in touch with you in one way or another, right?

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