My tech plan for a happier, healthier 2021

2020 was one heck of a year. And tech has been a double-edged sword, simultaneously making things easier and more challenging. In 2021, I plan to use technology in a way that makes it better.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

So long, 2020.

What a weird, wild rollercoaster of a ride that was. If I'd told you this time last year that the year had things like pandemics, masks, a massive surge in working from home, and a lot of weirdness on social media, I doubt you would have believed me.

Well, you might have believed the weirdness on social media bit. Social media has always been a hive of… weirdness.

I have to start out by saying that I've been very blessed in 2020.

My work has always been "work from home" (or wherever I happen to find even a whisper of a connection to the internet), and my work has continued uninterrupted. In many ways, along with my esteemed ZDNet team, I was in a good to advise and guide people and companies in the shift to working from home, because that's what we have been doing -- and doing very efficiently and productively -- for years.

I have also been lucky to live in a rural area. While that has its downsides, the past year has allowed to me to get a deeper connection with nature. And although the place I live has not escaped the deadly touch of COVID-19, I know many who have been harder hit, and my heart goes out to everyone touched by this terrible disease.

Must read: Hardware 2.0: Most used gadgets of 2020

So, enough with the looking back. Time to look forward. What are my tech plans for 2021?

Well, starting from the basic assumption that just because something works for me, it might not work for you, I present the following as "my plan." Nothing more. Feel free to pick anything that feels like it might be good for you and leave the rest. Equally, feel free to leave it all. Also, if you have some plans or ideas of your own, feel free to share them.

Also, while this is a list, it's not in any order of priority. It's more an overview of things I want to be more aware of in 2021.

More rigorous, compartmentalized social media use

Social media -- Twitter in particular -- is a wasteland. The rot started with Justin Bieber fans, but jingoistic politics on both sides of the Atlantic, and then the wild 5G/COVID-19 conspiracy theories have finished it off.

Lies, disinformation, and, quite frankly, froth and nonsense has turned it into a wasteland.

While I plan to keep my Facebook/Twitter/Instagram, I am going to make them my own. Follow and interact with people who lift my soul while at the same time ruthlessly wielding the block hammer.

Life is too short to argue with people whose goal is to get into arguments.

There's much more I could  say about the ills of social media, but I'll leave it at that.

More breaks away from screens

It's hard for me to get away from screens without a massive pivot in what I do. Screens in of themselves don't make me unhappy, but I do feel a difference when I'm away from them for a good chunk of time.

I've noticed that when I've had a day of working with my hands, or a day in nature, there's a different quality to my brain. It's clearly good for me.

I'm going to be doing more of that.

I also like to get out in the morning with my cup of coffee, and spend some time every evening letting the day go, both times leaving the phone behind. Putting screens away when eating, or when having a conversation, or 30 minutes before bed (I call them "screen no-fly zones").

Small things, but good ways to disconnect.

I'm going to be doing more of that too.

Also, longer breaks, breaks of a few days away from screens, really resets my mind. I come back sharper and more focused, and I actually get more done than if I hadn't taken the break.

I used to think breaks were wasted time. I was wrong.

Breaks are trickier in COVID times, and I know many are short on space in their homes or space in nature, and that getting away is not an option. But even a few days of a change of routine really helps me.

Top 10 Google Chrome plugins for 2020 -- in pictures

More "distraction-free" tech use

My Kindle Oasis is the perfect tool. No social media, no social messaging apps, no games, no browser. Just me and my books and audiobooks.

I'm going to be using it more.

I'm also a big YouTube user, and I've just taken out a subscription to YouTube Premium. What a difference that makes. No ads and being able to have YouTube in the background. It's great.

Yes, OK, I know that there are ways around YouTube ads, but I consider the content that people are putting up worth paying for. I put up with the ads, now I'm paying to make them go away. That's a fair exchange that allows me to sleep at night.

Using tech to improve my fitness

Last year I went into winter with what I'd rather be my weight coming out of winter weight. But it is as it is. But I do plan to get back into being more serious about using tech to track things like my workouts and weight and so on.

This is something that works for me, feels good, and that I find motivating, but I know it doesn't work for everyone.

More excuses to get into nature

Taking photos, flying my drone, testing ruggedized gear. I'm going to be using all the excuses I can to get out into nature more often.

Globalstar GSP-1700 satellite phone and Globalstar 9600 data hotspot

Move every hour

Get up and move more during the day. Walk around, get a cup of coffee, go in search of a pet or a loved one, do some press-ups, pull-ups, or swing a kettlebell.

Anything to break the pattern and add some variety to the day.

Making more connections

Despite my rant about social media being mostly dumpster fires, I have me good people there. I'm quite introverted on the whole, but in 2021 I plan on making new connections with good people, and deepening my connection with existing friends and colleagues (this is something I've been neglecting).

What are your plans for 2021? I'd love to hear from you, even if you have no plan other than to survive (because that's one heck of a good plan also!).

Inside a disposable phone charger

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