A digital checklist for 2017

From all of us at OWDT, our best wishes to you for a healthy, prosperous 2017!

Be more vigilant about security

Too many folks still make it far too easy for hackers to access their vital data despite the daily news of cybercrime and cyber attacks. The security threat is three-pronged: (1) individual/loosely organized criminal hackers, (2) our government/other governments (the new Trump administration is likely to increase surveillance measures), and (3) IT giants like FB and Google. Large private sector organizations aggressively collect reams of data on each of us to maximize the impact of their targeted marketing messaging. Much worse, surveillance software can track all our transactions and locations. That data can then be sold to or hacked by third parties. Finally, be aware that many governments rely on the threat of internet surveillance to control citizens’ behaviors, thereby undermining freedom of speech and other civil liberties.


To begin the new year on the right foot, we recommend you implement the following —

  • Update all your software, beginning with security updates. Research recently introduced advanced options. Establish periodic security ‘to-do list.’ Implement on a routine basis.
  • Create NEW, hard-to-crack passwords (see our previous article on password security). Adopt encryption and two-factor authentication where possible. Consider hiding your passwords with a tool like LastPass.
  • Google your name (frequently). See what information is visible to others with a simple search. Improve your social media security by raising your privacy settings. If necessary, take additional measures to delete any damaging online information, though even the most leading-edge IT cleanup efforts often fail.
  • Delete old software, apps, photos, downloads and documents. Most of us have significant digital clutter on our devices, slowing things down and making crashes more likely. In almost all cases, you’ll never miss old screenshots, downloaded files and docs. Always maintain an external backup for old data to correct any ill-considered deletions. While you’re at it, declutter your desktop, conflating folders while deleting outdated files. Your phone requires the most attention because of its frequent use and limited storage. Begin by deleting never-used apps and offloading most of your pics.
  • Streamline your email by unsubscribing to seldom-read newsletters and news feeds. If you still want to sign up for mailing lists, create a separate email account dedicated to that purpose.

I’ll share additional ideas for enhancing the quality and efficiency of your online experience to give you more non-screen personal time throughout the New Year.

Additional tips for streamlining your digital life

By adopting new online strategies this year, you can boost your work productivity while expanding the time available for exercise and other life enrichment activities.

Almost one in five people report that they’re constantly online. Even more concerning–most folks are now spending more time on their smartphones than face-to-face with family and friends, much of it on social media–a major trigger for negative, stressful emotions. These and related factors correlate with lower quality of life.

Studies demonstrate that too much screen time adversely affects physical and mental health, e.g., weight gain, the incidence of depression, anxiety, social isolation, as well as stunted social/academic and physical development among children. The major culprit is the adrenaline spikes we experience with frequent stress. That’s not a problem if you exercise regularly. If you don’t, however, adrenaline turns into cortisol, a highly dangerous toxin implicated in a range of degenerative outcomes including premature aging, deep fatigue, even organ failure.


Additional Strategies for reducing screen time

  • Turn off your device notifications (unless you’re waiting for a critical update). Don’t be like one of Pavlov’s dogs! –Respond to email/texts, etc. at structured times, e.g., twice a day, if at all possible.
  • Test your website’s contact page and all internal links. You may find messages from potential customers you’ve been ignoring. If your internal links aren’t working or your site is slow to navigate, remedy the situation ASAP.
  • Deactivate the automatic running of software systems that you seldom if ever use (as well as app updates for your phone)–except for those essential to your daily work.
  • Track how much time you’re spending online by using an app like Moment for iOS or QualityTime for Android. This will give you an excellent behavioral metric to monitor future improvement.
  • Refresh your online personal information every year, including social media profiles (especially your LinkedIn bio); your email signatures; website copyright year (having the original launch date makes it appear you’ve never updated your site info) + template footers, etc.
  • Assess your social media presence to ensure the quality of content and overall security. Look at your 2016 posts with a fresh eye. Were they informative and upbeat? Did you avoid creating or forwarding provocative, potentially business-limiting posts? It was harder than ever to tick those boxes last year, all the more important to do so in 2017.
  • Update your resume and portfolio to incorporate new projects, clients, achievements (preferably supported by metrics) and contact information. Keep current with your references by giving them each a call to update them on your status and to make sure their contact info is accurate.
  • Notify your family and friends when you’re going to be too busy to respond to texts. Request they postpone contacting you until a specific date/time.
  • Periodically categorize your inbox by the sender to avoid forgetting to respond to any personal, non-urgent message.
  • Review invoices to ensure you and your clients begin the year with a clean slate. Organize them, if you haven’t already, to prepare for 2016 taxes.
  • Don’t forget basic computer maintenance–Have you blown out your computer lately to prevent overheating, etc.? Have you recently cleaned your keyboard (a known disease vector)? Is your surge protector working?
    Create a ‘restore kit’ in the event of system failure.
  • Finally, write out (on a short paper list) all the important phone numbers of relatives, close friends, and colleagues. Though it takes a half-hour or so, creating a hard copy of that information and putting it into a safe location can be a lifesaver.

What OWDT can do for you

We at OWDT provide comprehensive services in website development, branding, marketing, SEO, web-specialized photography, video, and public relations. Our professionals work rigorously to integrate the latest in website technology and design with leading-edge digital marketing tools to help your company thrive. They know how to finesse a beautiful, brand-defining website with coordinated marketing strategies to expand your company’s visibility and revenue.

Check out our Portfolio to see the kind of award-winning work we have done for our clients. We would be delighted to hear from you! Contact us at 800-324-1617/ info@owdt.com.