Let’s get some basic productivity things out of the way right away, shall we?

1. Backups. If you have never thought about backing things up, there’s never been a better time to start. Take your pick of a gajillion different cloud-based storage devices or the “getting cheaper by the minute” portable hard drives, but back your stuff up. Seriously, folks. Google Drive costs $60/year for 100 GB of storage, but your digital photos can never be re-taken. Amazon S3 1 TB is $120/year on Glacier storage.

2. Back up your blog. If you’re running WordPress, I strongly recommend the free BackWPUp plugin that dumps a massive archive of everything into your Dropbox account on a weekly basis.

3. Archive everything you don’t need. Go through your inboxes, go through your blog feeds, go through your mobile phone, and archive the daylights out of everything and anything you can. If it’s from 2012, hide it unless you absolutely need it.

4. Don’t like resolutions? Do three words. Read Chris Brogan’s take on the concept (he created it) and then come up with three. Here are mine, as well as Mitch Joel, C.C. Chapman, Chel Wolverton, Tom Webster, Justin Levy, Steve Garfield, Gavin Llewellyn, Susan Murphy, Tamsen Webster, Lynette Young, Deb Ng, Oz Du Soleil, and many, many others.

5. Consider a commitment this year to being clutter-neutral. Do your traditional cleanup of stuff in your life, from your blog reader to your office, and then in order to maintain that, commit to eliminating something as soon as something new comes along. For example, let’s say you find a new blog you want to read. Unsubscribe from an old one to balance it out. Installed a new app on your mobile? Delete an old one. Got a new houseplant? Move an existing one outside. Kids got a new toy? Help them pick one to give away to charity. Added a new friend on Facebook? Ditch a connection you never talk to any more. Once you’ve got things where you want them, a commitment to being clutter-neutral will help you maintain that.

6. Change your passwords. More importantly, change your password to something that’s much longer and easy to remember. Password length matters a great deal more than complexity, as cited in this Carnegie Mellon paper. 16 characters is the minimum you should aim for, but go as long as practical. For example, [email protected]$w0rd is significantly less secure than IUsedToLiveAt1359CommonwealthAvenueBostonMA or MyFreshmanYearDormWas1stSchaeferHall. Think up old addresses, old relationships, things that are firmly lodged in your memory that can make for really passwords you can’t easily forget.

What are your starter tips for the new year?


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