Bad habits are the last thing you want to bring with you into the new year. Brush them off your legs so you can march into 2022 and set yourself up for success. One way to do that is by cleaning up your digital life.
There are a few ways to get the job done. You can clear out your computer and phone’s cache — or even take a literal brush around your gadgets to polish them up. Tap or click here to get five essential tech cleanups for your inbox, network and gadgets.
Those are solid strategies, but not all change requires a game plan. You can improve your digital life with a few general changes, like upgrading to more convenient chargers or avoiding traffic tickets through helpful apps. Here are easy and effective ways to make the most out of tech throughout the year.
1. Evaluate your screen time
Spending too much time on your phone can be bad for your eyes and your well-being. If you spend six hours or more in front of a screen, you’re at a higher risk for depression, one 2017 study found. That’s why you should limit your screen time each day.
The first way to do this is to check your screen time analytics. Your smartphone keeps track of how much time you spend staring at your screen, as well as which apps take up the most time. Here’s how to find these resources.
On an Android:
- Head to your Settings menu.
- Select Digital Wellbeing & parental controls.
- Tap Show your data to see your activity.
On an iPhone:
- Head to Settings.
- Select Screen Time.
- Go to See All Activity.
This shows a graph of your activity, from daily average time spent on your phone to your most popular apps. It even tells you how many times you picked up your device. Best of all, it lets you set time limits for apps and even schedule time away from the screen.
You’ll find many built-in apps designed to help you detach from the screen. Work Profile helps you turn off your work apps, Bedtime helps you unwind and Focus mode cuts out the constant notifications that draw you back to your phone throughout the day.
2. Unsubscribe from services you’re not using anymore
Put more money in your pocket by slashing the services you aren’t using anymore. If you have a budgeting app, look it over to see everything you’re paying for. Tap or click here for seven great apps that help you stay on top of your finances.
If you don’t have one, you can comb through your bank records for the past month and make a note of recurring subscription payments. There are a few ways to do this: You can go the old-fashioned route and use a printed spreadsheet or insert the data through Microsoft PowerPoint.
We recommend using a specialized budgeting spreadsheet explicitly designed for cases like this. When you want to cut expenses, it pays to get a good overview, and there’s no better way than with a few free financial templates we found online. Tap or click here for 10 free spreadsheet templates that help manage your finances.
Bottom line: Check your streaming services and eliminate whatever doesn’t make the cut. Another way to improve your standing in 2022 is to use this nifty money-saving trick.
3. Upgrade to a wireless charger
If you’ve ever looked down at a tangle of cables and sighed, it’s time for a change. Going wireless cleans up the clutter in your home and makes life easier.
Charging pads are an especially nifty way to kiss your messy cluster of cables goodbye. That’s because you can just set your devices down and forget about them.
For instance, you can place your phone on a charging pad overnight. Once the birds are singing, your phone is fully charged and ready to go.
There are a ton of options to choose from, but we’re particularly fond of this powerhouse:
Promising review: “It has performed marvelously! I especially like the fact that my phone stays securely in place while charging due to the material Anker uses on the top of the charging surface. The unit was a little more expensive than some others I considered, but I believe it is well worth it. Highly recommended!”
4. Use this iOS loophole to save money on other services
If you use many paid apps, you’re probably bleeding money at the end of each month. Luckily, iOS users can take advantage of a quirk in Apple’s subscription system. It all comes down to the fact that every listing on the App Store must show all of its in-app purchases.
Sometimes, when prices change, developers won’t update existing subscription tiers — they’ll just create new ones instead. That gives you a cheeky opportunity to pick a lower subscription tier than the one the app first shows you when you download it. Of course, not all developers will add extra tiers you can use, so don’t get your hopes up.
Still, it’s worth looking up any app you subscribe to and seeing if this trick can save you cash. Check for cheaper monthly subscriptions by heading to an app on the App Store, scrolling down to Information and selecting In-App purchases to see if there are cheaper alternatives. (Also, bear in mind that it only works for apps you’ve already subscribed to.)
If you see any cheaper alternatives, follow these steps to lower your monthly cost on iOS apps:
- Head to Settings.
- Select Your Name.
- Hit Subscriptions.
- Look up the app you’re paying for. This opens up many different payment options.
- Select it and confirm the change.
With this trick, you’ll have a lot of extra cash in your wallet. If you want to spend it all in one place, we found some of the most high-quality tech gifts money can buy. Tap or click here for the coolest tech gifts you can buy when money is no object.
5. Avoid tickets with Google Maps
A hidden feature on your navigation map can help you slow down in time, so the authorities don’t pull you over. It’s called Speed trap, and it audibly alerts you about upcoming speed traps.
- To turn it on, select your profile icon in the app’s upper right corner.
- Then, tap Settings.
- From there, tap Navigation.
- Lastly, make sure your toggle for Show speed limits is on.
Your screen should look something like this:
Putting speed limits in place means Google Maps will now warn you about speed traps.
6. Unsubscribe from emails you don’t read
This one’s pretty easy to do. If companies are blasting your email inbox with a constant barrage of messages, take a minute to click on one of them and hit unsubscribe. This works whether you use Gmail, Yahoo Email, Outlook or another option.
Then again, your inbox may be clogged even if you haven’t subscribed to any services or companies. In that case, you may need some extra help cleaning out your messages. Good news: We have a life-changing tech tip that can help you for years to come.
Tap or click here to learn how to bulk delete thousands of emails all at once.
7. Give up vacuuming for good
For many of us, vacuuming is a necessary evil. Those lucky few who let robots do the chore have eradicated themselves from the drudgery of floor cleaning. Join their ranks with a cleaning robot.
Here’s our favorite:
This bot is stacked full of powerful features like anti-scratch protection on glass, an infrared sensor for avoiding obstacles and even tech that senses drops, so stuff doesn’t fall on it.
Its slim design means it can easily slip under furniture, and it’s powerful and quiet. Even better, its strong battery means it can clean your floors for up to 100 minutes. Compared to some other brands out there, this tough gadget is a steal.
8. While you’re at it, why not let a robot water the lawn, too?
Thanks to the magic of smart technology, you can automate all sorts of chores. The Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller lets you control your sprinklers from afar. You can also use it to set watering schedules and look over your estimated outdoor water usage.
It even helps you save money by not accidentally watering in the rain. Its weather intelligence technology detects rain, wind, and snow, taking some of the mental load off your already busy mind.
It works with Alexa, Apple HomeKit and Google Assistant so you can water the plants hand-free. Speaking of watering tech you can control with your voice, here’s another great gadget to check out.
9. Finally grow something
If you have a brown thumb, you’re not alone. Growing plants can be tricky, especially if you’re a beginner. Luckily, you can buy a device that turns gardening into a science.
Give your plants a fighting chance with the Click and Grow Smart Garden. This high-tech kit is compatible with smart assistants, so you can water your plants without getting yourself wet. You can choose from over 50 plant pods, like strawberries, chili peppers, cilantro or lavender, to grow a custom herb garden.
Growing herbs can save you a good amount of money the next time you shop for ingredients. Speaking of that, if you’re looking for new recipes, we’ve got you covered. Tap or click here to get delicious, unique recipes for what’s already in your pantry.
10. Banish your phone from your bedside and get a clock instead
There’s a funny phrase circulating the internet recently. “Reject modernity; embrace tradition,” folks are saying. It’s used as a meme, but as with every joke, there’s a grain of truth within.
Many people threw out their alarm clocks when advanced smartphones added the alarm feature. However, having our phones so close before bed can harm your sleep schedule. Tap or click here to find out how smartphones and blue screens affect your sleep.
Leave your phone in another room if you struggle to keep away from the screen before bed. Use an alarm clock instead. They’re super cheap and easy to use.
Think about it this way: It may be a step back, technology-wise, but at least it’s not a rooster! Plus, it can help you build a better morning routine since you won’t reach for your smartphone first thing when you wake up. Minor changes like this can significantly impact your well-being throughout 2022.
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