When we think about New Year’s resolutions, we typically focus on tangible life improvements like trying to lose weight, eat healthier, or travel more. But technology has become such an integral part of our existence that it, too, can require some work.
So we asked our tech contributors: What do you resolve to change in your digital life in 2018? Below are six ways we hope to improve way we use technology in the new year.
Explore The Outdoors
I’m constantly riding my bike outside to enjoy the spoils of Mother Nature, and while my caloric burn and mileage stats might speak otherwise, I’ve gotten lazy. I ride the same roads over and over, and I rarely stop to document the beauty I see. But in 2018, I vow to take a new approach. I’m going to use things like Strava’s Segment Explore and MTB Project to find roads and trails I’ve never ridden before, and the Magellan SmartGPS app to navigate pathways even when Google Maps gets stumped and moss seems to be growing on every side of the trees. I also resolve to figuratively stop and smell the roses more often—to document and share the adventures I go on, so friends, loved ones, and followers can understand why things like a 5 a.m. bike ride aren’t crazy; they’re glorious.—Christina Bonnington
Clean Up The Homescreen
Paging through my phone, I occasionally picture myself as an archaeologist, studying the ruins of some ancient empire. Its screens are riddled with unused programs, scattered like the decrepit columns of a crumbling fortress: Here I come across games I’ve long since given up on, loyalty apps for restaurants I never visit, utilities I don’t remember downloading. Surely there are treasures buried below the debris, but I’m hard-pressed to find them, cluttered as this desolate landscape has become. I have fallen, I fear, for the antiquarian’s fallacy: the premise that because something is old, it deserves to preserved.
In 2018, I resolve to reject this pernicious myth. I will delete the useless and the unused. I will clear the rubble, the better to visit old temples and build new palaces.—Jacob Brogan
Improve Email Management
The messages fly swiftly and viciously, landing in a virtual pile teetering on the verge of implosion. The notifications divert my attention from the task at hand, but left unread, only serve as kindling fueling a bubbling cauldron of stress. That is to say: My inbox is a mess. I’ve tried Boomerang. I've used folders and labels. I’ve tried ignoring it altogether for longer than is professionally responsible.
This year, I aim to tame the beast. I’m going to actually use the archive button to clear, but not delete, the clutter—on a regular basis. I’m going to better categorize and sort inbox notifications so that important emails don’t get lost between Google Alerts and Zillow updates. And I’m going to respond to more emails—to be more efficient, but to also stop the inevitable influx of “Did you get my email?” follow-ups that come from choosing silence over communication.—CB
Sort My Photos
When I take photos, in my mind I am a natural scientist collecting diverse specimens. Each one is destined for a separate case neatly suited to its purpose: art I like, paragraphs I must remember, things to buy, gift card numbers I need to use, strange shapes of buildings and signs to collect for some future slideshow, events for articles, family on vacation, cute pix of friends for some future reminiscence, funny stuff to share now or later on Twitter or Instagram, or sometimes things I just find beautiful. The truth is I am less a punctilious botanist and more like a kid leaving rocks and leaves all over the house. My photos all end up in one hopelessly jumbled digital pile where they are no use to me at all and sorting them is a hopelessly daunting task. Next year I will do it.—Henry Grabar
Download More Apps
Next year, I resolve to download the apps for the platforms I frequent on my phone—Facebook, Gmail, Twitter, Reddit. I currently access these sites by typing their addresses into the Chrome app, a circuitous route that my partner informs me is likely wasting hours of accumulated time. By downloading these shortcuts, I’ll also get notifications on my phone when I receive an email and will have no excuse for failing to respond promptly. (I know there’s a possibility, though, that I’ll end up wasting more time futzing around with these platforms, since they’ll only be one click away, rather than three.)—Aaron Mak
Make Mobile Payments A Habit
Despite testing them on and off since their early days in 2012, using my phone to pay for items in the real world has never bridged the gap from novelty to habit. Apple Pay, Android Pay—I’ve got multiple phones and devices set up so their NFC radios can securely transmit the details of my financial transactions without the need of a wallet. And yet, I still reach in and pull out a credit card or cash, knowing it’s often more time consuming and perhaps even less secure.
In 2018, I want to make phone-based payments a habit. You can do almost anything with your phone. It’s almost always in-hand. I just need to start using it at the cash register, too.—CB