Five things to start (and continue) doing in 2013

I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions. But the start of a new year is a good time for many to pause, look back at the last year, and think about things they would like to do differently in the coming year. Here are my five suggestions of things you should start doing right away.

  1. Back up your data and audit your backups. This may be the second most important thing you can do, and it’s not difficult. Florida attorney Katie Floyd has a great set of rules for backup systems. Katie drives a Mac, but the principles work on every platform. Also, don’t forget your portable devices (iPhones, iPads, Androids, etc.)! For iPhone and iPad users, Apple has a good overview of your backup options.  I highly recommend using iCloud to back up your iOS devices. When using iCloud, you can back up when you’re away from your computer. A friend of mine went to France last year, took a gazillion photos on his iPhone, and lost his iPhone at the airport in Paris. He didn’t have iCloud backup turned on, so he lost all of the photos. Learn from his mistake.
  2. Exercise. I know, I know. You hear this all the time. There’s a good reason for this repeated message that bombards us from every direction: exercise is important. In fact, 30 minutes of activity each day may be the most important thing you can do for yourself. Watch this ten-minute video where Dr. Mike Evans explains the research behind this idea.
  3. Reset your passwords. I’ve written about this before, and I’ll write about it again. But for now, read the article at Ars Technica explaining why your current passwords are probably useless. Then read Mat Honan’s article explaining why passwords alone are no longer sufficient to protect your online banking, Facebook account, etc. Yes, long random passwords are inconvenient. So is having two locks on your front door. All security is a tradeoff, and you need to consider how inconvenient it will be if you have to recover from a hacker’s success. As I’ve said before, 1Password and Lastpass are the type of tools you need to reduce the inconvenience. Start using them religiously. And don’t forget to enable two-factor authentication wherever possible (Google, Facebook, Dropbox, Yahoo! Mail, PayPal). You can also do a Google search for your particular service, like “disney.com two factor authentication” to see if there are instructions for setting it up.
  4. Plan your vacation. I’ve learned the value of always having a vacation planned and put on the calendar. One reason I do this is to make sure I always have a break to look forward to. Having that light at the end of the tunnel helps me keep a positive outlook at the office. Another reason I do this is to make sure that I take a break every five or six months. We lawyers are busy people, and if we don’t plan these breaks ahead of time, we end up not having the time to take them. Make the hotel reservations—you can always cancel them if the feathers hit the fan. Or, lock yourself in by making the plane reservations as well.
  5. Improve your work-life balance. Work hard, but play hard too. Commit to getting out of the office by 5:30 one or two days a week so you can have dinner with the family. (It’s really not that hard. If you treat your departure time like it’s time to catch a plane, you won’t have any problem telling your colleagues that a 5:15 meeting doesn’t work on your schedule that day.) No one ever said on his or her deathbed, “I wish I’d spent more time at the office.”

What resolutions or plans do you have for 2013? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

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