The year 2014 has been incredible for tech. Smartphones keep getting better, smart watches are finally picking up steam and we finally discovered other earth-like planets that we could migrate to many years from now.
As we celebrate the new year 2015 later tonight, I wish to share with you some thoughts on how we can be better humans empowering technology, as opposed to letting technology take control of our lives.
In fact, they make excellent new year resolutions for those who still haven't really thought of one yet.
Have meaningful conversations
When was the last time you've had quality time with your friends and family without having to fish out your phone every few minutes?
The next time you're at the dinner table with them, set your phone to 'airplane mode' or 'do not disturb'. Interact with the people next to you. Surely you have a lot to talk about, and it can be more engaging than typing on WhatsApp.
Now isn't the time to check updates on your social media feeds. And please stop taking pictures of food for once.
Don't drive distracted
Put the phone down, and keep your eyes on the road. You only live once.
If you have to use a phone while driving, pick up a Bluetooth headset. Most new cars are now equipped with Bluetooth connectivity.
Of course, you can always find a safe place to stop the car if you need to take an important call, or take a selfie.
Get better sleep
Ever wondered why you can't sleep at night lately? Studies have shown that using our phones, tablets and TV before bedtime can disrupt our sleeping patterns.
All our devices emit bright blue light that reduces melatonin secretion (melatonin is a sleep-inducing hormone). Your body will think its daytime when you should be asleep.
You need to disconnect from your devices at least two hours before bed. Set your phone to 'sleep mode' and put it far away from reach.
If you've been using your phone as your alarm clock, then get a mechanical alarm clock. It's also probably best to take the TV out of the bedroom.
Reading a book before bedtime is fine as you only get reflected light from the night stand (it will also help you fall asleep). When its time to sleep, switch off all lights. Your bedroom needs to be pitch black... or you can use a sleep mask.
It's the 21st Century, why are you still printing?
That tablet you have in your hand is an excellent document reader. There are a multitude of online services (Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud) to help you store all your data, and have them accessible across all your devices.
Use the cloud, save the trees.
Take security and privacy seriously
Using one password for everything sure makes life easier for you, but it also makes it easier for hackers.
Use a password managing app such as 1Password to help you manage multiple passwords for various sites or services.
Also, this may contradict with my previous point, but it's still crucial; don't store your important or private documents in the cloud.
As much as how secure the online cloud services can be, hackers will always find a workaround, or it could be our lack of expertise in protecting our data that causes the leak. You don't want to be the next Jennifer Lawrence.
Spend less on tech
Smartphones, tablets, computers, wearables. Our gadgets don't come cheap and they easily burn our wallet, so why do we keep hurting ourselves each passing year?
I know, temptation can be so hard to beat. We've all been there.
Perhaps its time we take a break from buying expensive tech in 2015 and prioritise on sorting out our finances.
Unless you've had your phone since 2013 (like me), you don't really need to upgrade your phone in 2015.
While there are amazing new tech coming out in 2015, from smart watches to 3D vizors, you don't really need them.
According to a recent study, spending our hard-earned money on experiences (fine dining, travel, etc) is much more gratifying and makes us more happier than actually buying things.
Save your money and pursue that dream vacation you've always wanted. And speaking of vacation...
Go for a gadget-free travel
Vacation is a time to relax, so leave anything that will take away your relaxation. Just take your phone, it has everything you need.
The less tech you carry, the less you worry about your expensive gear getting lost, damaged or stolen during your overseas trips. There are less electronic devices to charge, and you'll have less charging cables and adapters to stuff in your luggage.
Your phone can take great photos, so leave your digital camera at home (again, one less thing to strap around your neck).
Go easy on the picture-taking though. You should really take it all in; the atmosphere, the experience, the thrills. You don't have to post every minute of your journey on Instagram.
Ignore the social media notifications. Turn off your phone and save your battery. Be in the moment and enjoy the ride.
Happy new year!