Tech self-care for the new year: a guide

Was the term “self-care” invented by the beauty-industrial complex to sell more bath bombs? Probably, but that doesn’t mean that setting aside time to take care of yourself every once in a while is a bad idea. That goes for the technology in your life, too.

Are you pretending not to see a rat’s nest of cables behind your desk? Does the triple-digit unread email notification make you cringe every time you look at your homescreen? Or has that once-clear phone case turned a dingy shade of yellow? Look, I’m not here to shame you. But maybe it’s time to take a look around at the tech you use every day to see where a little effort in tidying up can go a long way. If you’re looking for somewhere to start, you’ve come to the right place. (Unless you’re looking for bath bomb recommendations — can’t help you there.)

I speak from experience when I say that these dumb little stick-on cable clips from Amazon can make a world of difference on your desk. If you, too, are constantly untangling cords or fishing them off the floor when you need to plug something in, please get to know my lord and savior: cable management. This set comes with an array of sizes, all with non-damaging adhesive on the back. Stick one on the side of your desk and you’ll have a place to tuck cables out of the way when you’re not using them.

Before you get caught off guard by dead batteries in your gadgets, check them ahead of time. This voltage checker is $5.99 and comes with the benefit of not needing a battery itself. Give your future self the gift of not scrambling to replace the batteries in your wireless mouse before an important meeting.

If you take nothing else from this guide, just do yourself a favor and buy a gosh dang can of compressed air. You won’t believe the crumbs that it can unearth from your keyboard or the corners of your phone case. If you’re cleaning your laptop, make sure to turn it off first — we have more guidance here. In fact, now’s the time to get the old-fashioned dusting cloth out, too, and get to work. It’s a good idea to make sure the area where your electronics are plugged in is dust-free.

While you’re at it, pick up a microfiber cleaning cloth and some cleaning spray, too. Take a minute to clean the screens in your life — phone, car, TV, anything you look at a thousand times a week. Just be sure you’re using the right tools for the surface; leave the Windex in your cupboard and get this $12.95 cleaner and microfiber kit from Calyptus. It’s Guardian photo-editor-approved, so you know it’s legit.

Now that your phone screen is smudge-free, take a good, hard look at your home screen. Maybe you’re like me and you start with good intentions of putting apps into folders and then, at some point, abandon the whole charade, just letting them pile up in page after page of pure chaos. This could be an entire guide in itself, but here are a few quick tips to de-clutter your homescreen:

Oh, and one last bit of self-care? Just delete those 30,482 unread emails. If someone gets mad about it, remind them that texting is the new email and they should just message you next time.

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