32 small ways to improve your relationship with tech

Tips & tricks
2 mins
An app icon with a power symbol and a heart notification.

Most of us have a love-hate relationship with technology. Here are ways to help ensure that your tech gear and accounts are tools that serve you, rather than the other way around.

  1. Go through your email and unsubscribe to mailing lists you’re on.
  2. Unless you’re alone, lock your screen when you’re not using your device. 
  3. Use a VPN app. It encrypts your online traffic and lets you break through censorship.
  4. Cover your webcam when it’s not in use—because you never know.
  5. Organize your wires and cords. And then: trash the ones that don’t connect to anything you own and are too outdated or specific to pass on.
  6. Go through the privacy settings of your social media accounts. New ones crop up from time to time.
  7. Update your devices when prompted. This ensures they have the latest security fixes.
  8. Turn on auto-update for your apps.
  9. Take a break from social media.
  10. Related: Stop doomscrolling.
  11. Make use of the Do Not Disturb (or similar) function on your phone. It silences any kind of notification, including vibrations.
  12. Use encrypted messaging apps. We rank them here.
  13. Clean your keyboard. Canned air and cleaning gel (which resembles slime) can handle most cleaning jobs.
  14. Ignore suspicious emails and unknown calls. Life’s too short.
  15. Websites with poor security (such as using HTTP rather than HTTPS) are probably not worth visiting.
  16. Stop inserting USB cables upside down. The USB symbol on your cord indicates which side is up.
  17. Have eye strain? Adjust your screen’s color with a yellow hue.
  18. Delete unused apps from your phone. Here’s a guide to decluttering your device. 
  19. Delete old photos from social media.
  20. Save your photos on a hard drive. It’s a cheap way to store a large number of files and remain fully in your control.
  21. Check your email or phone number on Have I Been Pwned. The site tells you if your private information has been compromised in a data leak. 
  22. Assess whether you actually use all the streaming/music services you’re paying for. Unsubscribe and save money.
  23. Use two-factor authentication with your accounts. It’s a small extra step to up your account security by a lot.
  24. Save passwords in a password manager. Not having to remember them means stronger passwords.
  25. Put a limit on your screen time. Here are different methods to do so.
  26. Don’t forget to stretch once in a while.
  27. Follow the 20-20-20 rule: Look away from your screen every 20 minutes for 20 seconds at a time, and focus on a fixed point 20 feet away. 
  28. Turn off social media notifications on your phone. It’s not that important to know every time someone’s commented on your photo.
  29. Download your favorite music/podcasts/videos with your home Wi-Fi to save on data charges when you’re out and about.
  30. Avoid constantly checking your email. Switch off your email notifications and set reminders to review them at intervals instead.
  31. Learn more keyboard shortcuts.
  32. Breathe—literally. Tech apnea typically happens when you look at your phone and forget to inhale-exhale. 

Read more: Quiz: What is your technological age?

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Ceinwen focused on digital privacy, censorship, and surveillance, and has interviewed leading figures in tech.