This has to be one of the most important aspects of maintaining good digital hygiene. Without a regular routine, you're very likely to skip an important hygiene task and end up hosed. Let's face it, most of us are creatures of habit. We tend to stick to our routines and the resulting familiarity is a balancing force in our busy lives. Don't follow your routine and what happens? You may forget something.
Your digital hygiene has to be approached in the same way. You need to build it into your daily routine. Just like you brush your teeth every night before bed, you need to plug your cell phone in every night before bed. I bet most of you already have some sort of loose routine that you follow. I'm just suggesting that you'll be more consistent if you give your routine a little thought and consider all the aspects of you digital life that may require regular, hygiene. There may be many aspects of your digital life that you are neglecting.
I won't even try to tell you how to setup your routine. Everyone is different and the routine that works for me may not work for you. I can suggest some things that you will want to consider building into your routine.
1. Charge your devices! Plug your cell phone in at the same time and place every day. I cannot stress how important this is. Leave it laying on the kitchen table, and you're likely to find it there the following morning with a dead battery.
2. Ditto for any other digital devices that you depend on every day such as digital cameras, iPods, iPads, PDAs, or laptops.
3. If you're a regular email user, check your email at least once a day. Find a consistent time that works for you and do it every day. I can write a whole post on all of the advantages that come with keeping up with your email inbox. Or, you can ask my wife how frustrated she gets when she hasn't checked her email for a week or so…I love you sweetie 😉
4. Back up your important digital files at least once a month. For some folks who are heavy users of technology, you may want to do this at least twice a month. Pick a date that you will remember such as the 1st, 15th, or every payday. This means: sync your iPod/iPad, back-up your Blackberry, archive your contacts, back-up your iTunes library, burn a CD or DVD copy of your digital photos, etc…
5. Update your antivirus software and database at least once a month. Most antivirus software have features to do this automatically at some set interval. However, most people don't leave their computers on all the time, so these regular updates are often bypassed. Use the strategy above to pick a date each month to update your antivirus software and database. The more frequently the better!
6. Check for updates of your operating system at least once a month. On a Windows machine, this is the Windows Update. On a Mac, this is Software Update. Just like antivirus software, most operating systems have a schedule to check for automatic updates at some defined interval. Many folks either don't leave their computer on or elect to by-pass the updates when prompted by the operating system. Use the same strategy as above and pick a date each month to run your operating system's update software. Updates are vital for keeping your system healthy and vulnerability free.
Of course, this short list is not all inclusive. If you have other data or devices that you use regularly, or are important, you'll need to work them into your routine too.
What if I've tried a routine and it's not working?
Don't give up!
Adjust your routine, mix it up!
Change the times for certain tasks.
Set yourself reminders, either high tech or low tech. Use your smartphone or PDA to set a reminder on your calendar. This is especially helpful for those hygiene tasks that are only done once a month. Put a sticky on the mirror in the bathroom that says, charge cell phone. Anything that will help you remember for the first few days, weeks, or months.
With a little persistence, you'll soon find that you don't need most of the reminders anymore.
Above all, the most important thing is to be consistent.
Give it a try and let me know how it works!