Starting off a new year is admittedly a symbolic gesture, but one we can leverage to great effect to make needed changes in our lives. Here are my 8 tips that will help make life easier or better for you in the new year.

New Year's 2010

1. Back that stuff up. If you have never thought about backing things up, there’s never been a better time to start. Take your pick of a zillion 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, and many backup programs can now use S3 as a repository.

2. Move your blog to a service that can handle it. This past year, I moved the SHIFT blog over to a professional WordPress hosting service, and there is a gigantic difference in performance, security, and ease of use with a dedicated blog host. The industry averages $100 a month for a high traffic site or $30-40 a month for a lower traffic site, but if your business relies on your website, then move your site. Malware protection, one click backup and restore, built in caching, and a variety of other benefits await you.

3. Archive all the digital stuff you don’t need. Put 2013 in a nice, neat container on an external hard drive or some other place where you can keep it accessible but not be a daily distraction. Archive your email from the year. When the ball drops, mark every blog feed as read.

4. Give away all the real life stuff you don’t need. If you’ve got analog, real life clutter, like too many shirts or kids toys strewn about the floors of your house, there are hundreds of charities ready and waiting to accept your gently used goods, from Cradles to Crayons to the Vietnam Veterans of America. Some of them like VVA will even come to your house or office and take the stuff away for you. Declutter and help other people at the same time.

5. Do your three words. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, Chris Brogan created it. It’s a great replacement for resolutions that never seem to get done. Read about it here.

6. Switch to a password manager. With as many services as we rely on for our personal and professional lives online, and with as many serious security breaches as we saw in 2013, you owe it to yourself to upgrade to a full-fledged password manager. That way, you can have a broad, diverse, secure blend of passwords, different for each service on the web, so that when services get compromised, you’re not needing to change your password on dozens of other sites. My personal favorite is LastPass.

7. Turn on two-factor authentication wherever you can. Many digital services now allow you to add your phone to the password protection, adding an additional layer of protection for your accounts. Whenever and wherever it’s offered, unless there is a compelling reason not to, turn it on.

8. Unfriend/unfollow/stop reading toxic people and sources. Whether online or offline, if you want to make the most of 2014, ditch people who are negative influences on you, from bloggers you read to ‘friends’ on Facebook. There are few areas of our lives we can totally control, but what we choose to consume online is one of them. Make a choice for much more positivity in 2014. That doesn’t mean only consume what you agree with; you can disagree with a viewpoint without being a disagreeable human being. It does mean making a choice as often as you can for inspiration rather than denigration.


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