Welcome! In this video, I will address ways in which you can use technology to increase time to do more important things in your life, better manage your digital documents, and make your digital documents safer.

Technology can be employed effectively to reduce the time it takes to do many things. I examine anything I do repeatedly and figure out if there are ways to do it more efficiently.

First, I have set my browser to automatically open two webpages. Any browser can be configured to save a set of “homepages.” One webpage is for LastPass, which I will discuss below and the other is a webpage with links to webpages that I use frequently. So, with one quick click I can assess my email, calendar, the websites of all the courses I teach, news, weather, financial accounts, etc. I have about 30 links there and it is far quicker to access them in this manner than by saved pages. One webpage, and one quick click and I am instantly at the sites I need. No passwords, however, are stored on the page, in case someone else gets access.

Consider what would happen with your documents, pictures, and other digital items with a power surge while working, theft, fire, ransomware, etc. Technology can be employed to archive and backup your work and personal items. The “rule of 2” means that I have an original file and a copy backed up in a different locations—an external hard drive, for instance. Having the backup copy separated from my computer means that if my computer is damage by a power surge or stolen I will still have my valuable work. Once a week I back up my recent work to a second external hard drive that I keep in a separate location so that in the event of fire or even ransomware, those files should be OK.

Another safety precaution I use is to keep that second external hard drive in a Faraday box, one that will keep the data safe in case of an electronic magnetic pulse. I realize that this is probably over-preparedness, but it is just as easy to keep that second hard drive in a metal box that shields it than in any other place.

You may not need as much storage space as an external hard drive. If you have only Word documents, a thumb drive should be adequate. Also, you could consider using Cloud storage for your backup: Dropbox, Google Drive, or Microsoft OneDrive. There are also services that will automatically back up your whole computer as well.

Having safely secured your documents is one issue, however, being able to retrieve them later is another. Consider filenames that are descriptive and that you will remember later. It is also best practice to repeatedly save your files while you are working on them with different file names. Yes, I said different names. Make sure each file is unique! For instance, you might save a file with the date at the end or a number. I often save multiple copies of files that I am working on. For instance, filename_1, then filename_2, then filename_3. I save with new files names at least every 30 minutes or so that I am working on a document, composition, video, or other project. This is very helpful if you have a power outage and lose your current work. Also, sometimes when working on files you might change them radically or the file gets corrupted. Having earlier versions of the document will mean you don’t need to start over again. Digital storage now is very cheap. Your time is not! It is not a problem having 20 backup files, but it is a problem having none.

The one thing I appreciate most about technological advances in the last decade is that now almost everything can be digitized. I am a packrat, wanting access to my books, readings, compositions, recorded music, online videos, etc. Fortunately, in the digital age being a digital packrat takes very little space!

Do you retain your email messages or see a need to do so? I archive my messages on my private email server. You might use gmail or other email service to do so. Having an archive will allow you to search for items as well. I recommend the book by Douglas Merrill titled, Getting Organized in the Google Era. He has some great tips on retaining and searching for items.

I keep records on my book reading lists, important articles I have read, and other notes I make. I scan important documents and other items I wish to save as well. Thus, years later when I need an item I have a way to find it.

The way to keep safe your email, Facebook, and financial accounts is to have long and unmemorable passwords for each. If one password is stolen, then the other websites are still safe. However, remembering many long and difficult passwords (such as A4mv&93*shen32-Ym) is near impossible. I make use of LastPass, which just requires a single master password. This software then stores and fills in the passwords for my many websites when I log on to the sites. It is well worth the dollar a month I pay for access to it on my computer, tablet, and phone.

So, let me give you an example of how LastPass would work. Let’s say I wanted to go to Towson University mail. I get there and you see this little symbol over here. That is my LastPass login. I get to LastPass and put in my master password. Login, and you can see that it has filled in everything for me. My password is now filled in. I can just click sign in and then I am signed in. Of course, I do have a few memorized passwords. In addition to the master password for LastPass, I have a memorized password for recovering my email accounts, which is the account which I would use to recover emails incase LastPass goes down. Again, I hold to the “rule of 2.” Always have a backup plan in place.

Well, I hope that this video has given you some ideas for efficiencies, archiving, and safety for all your digital materials.