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Ask Readers: How Can I remove a microblock?

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Ask Readers: How Can I remove a microblock?

Lifehack.org reader, Mark Roggenkamp asks this question through email:

Ever been doing something and have very tiny mental block that either sends you down a different path or causes you to put the primary task off to a later time?

I’ve come across this now and again. For example, I was updating my list of projects earlier today and I came across a project that I needed to split into multiple projects. It wasn’t going to take more than 5 minutes but I had a little microblock and thought about letting it be. The project was assigned to a co-worker so I asked him about and we went ahead and fixed it.

That same co-worker was coding something in python and came across something that was not quite so clean to write in python2.3 (but is in python2.4 which he’s recently become more familiar with). He hesitated and had a temporary microblock but then pushed through it and persevered.

I wonder if there is any other way to get through microblocks other than brute force, pushing through the block? I wonder how much microblocks cost businesses?

This is a typical example of procrastination. One encounters block from a task, hesitate about it and then let it slips. The delay or missing of feature may cause consequences on the overall project and cost businesses a fortune.

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There are books and articles about procrastination. One article that I mentioned previously is How to Get Any Project Up and Running by Mark Forster. He mentioned a book called The 15-second Principle that says “a minimum of 15 seconds work a day on any project will bring it to fruition.”. The idea is to tackle a big project bits by bits. However I can think of a way to bring this into your issue’s perspective – promise yourself to do 15 seconds on the task that blocks you will help to go through the issues – at least you start thinking about it. When you are familiar with 15 seconds, try 30 seconds. After 30 seconds, try 1 minutes. Eventually you will get into the habit of tackle the problem immediately, even though it microblocks you.

What else? The 15 seconds also helps you getting started on a task. The first step is hard. The 15 seconds helps you taking away the commitment. This is combined with Joshua Newman’s idea on kick-starting a task. Joshua mentions “the subconscious resistance to getting started is the inherent internal commitment to keep going past that first step”. 15 seconds helps you disarming this completion commitment.

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Of course, there are many other good strategies on killing procrastination. I am sure other readers will have their takes on this question – so feel free to comment.

Microblocks – [Mark Roggenkamp]

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Leon Ho

Founder of Lifehack

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Last Updated on November 25, 2021

Protecting Your Online Life With Secure Passwords

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Protecting Your Online Life With Secure Passwords

With all of the recent online services and companies falling under attack to hackers in the past few months, it seems only fitting to talk about password creation and management. There are a lot of resources out there discussing this, but it never hurts to revisit this topic time and again because of its importance.

Password management isn’t necessarily a difficult thing to do, yet it does seem like a bit of an annoyance to most people. When it comes to password management, you will hear the famous line, “I don’t really care about changing my passwords regularly. I have nothing important online anyways.” Let’s see if you have nothing important online when your PayPal account gets taken over because you thought the password “password” was good enough.

In my opinion, it is an “internet user’s” responsibility to make sure that they keep secure passwords and update them on a regular basis. In this article we will discuss how to make your online presence more secure and keep it secure.

The easy fundamentals

First thing is first; creating a strong password.

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A strong password is a mixture of alpha-numeric characters and symbols, has a good length (hopefully 15 characters or longer), and doesn’t necessarily represent some word or phrase. If the service you are signing up for doesn’t allow passwords over a certain length, like 8 characters, always use the maximum length.

Here are some examples of strong passwords:
* i1?,2,2\1′(:-%Y
* ZQ5t0466VC44PmJ
* mp]K{ dCFKVplGe]PBm1mKdinLSOoa (30 characters)

And not so good examples
* sammy1234
* password123
* christopher

You can check out PC Tools Password Generator here. This is a great way to make up some very strong passwords. Of course the more random passwords are harder to remember, but that is where password management comes into play.

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Managing your passwords

I know some people that keep their passwords in an unencrypted text file. That’s not a good idea. I suppose that if you aren’t doing much online and are decent at avoiding viruses and such, it could be OK, but I would never recommend it.

So, where do you keep your strong passwords for all the services that you visit on a daily basis?

There are a ton of password safes out there including KeePass, RoboForm, Passpack, Password Safe, LastPass, and 1Password. If and when I recommend any of these I always count on LastPass and 1Password.

Both LastPass and 1Password offer different entry types for online services logins (PayPal, Twitter, Facebook, Gmail, etc.), credit cards and bank accounts, online identities, and other types of sensitive information. Both have excellent reviews and only differ in a few subtle ways. One of the ways that is more notable is that LastPass keeps your encrypted password Vault online where 1Password allows you to keep it locally or shared through Dropbox. Either way, you are the holder of the encryption keys and both ways are very secure.

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LastPass and 1Password both offer cross-platform support as well as support for Android and iOS (LastPass even has BlackBerry support). 1Password is a little pricey ($39.99 for either Windows or Mac) where LastPass has free options as well as premium upgrades that allow for mobile syncing.

Upkeep

You should probably change your passwords for your “important” accounts at least every 6 weeks. When I say “important” accounts I am referring to ones that you just couldn’t imagine losing access to. For me that would be Gmail, PayPal, eBay, Amazon, all my FTP accounts and hosting accounts, Namecheap, etc. Basically these include any account where financial information could be lost or accessed as well as accounts that could be totally screwed up (like my webserver).

There is no hard and fast rule to how often you should change your passwords, but 6 to 8 weeks should be pretty good.

Alternatives

You may think that all of this is just too much to manage on a daily basis. I will admit it is kind of annoying to have to change your passwords and use a password manager on a daily basis. For those people out there that don’t want to go through all of the hub-bub of super-secure, encrypted, password management, here are a few tips to keep you safe:

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  1. Create a unique and hard to guess “base password” and then a pattern to use for each site you logon onto. For instance a base password could be “Ih2BaSwAa” (this stands for “I have two brothers and sisters who are annoying”). Then you would add something “site specific” to the end of it. For Twitter Ih2BaSwAaTWTTR, Facebook Ih2BaSwAaFCBK, etc. This is sort of unsecure, but probably more secure than 99% of the passwords out there.
  2. Don’t write your passwords down in public places. If you want to keep track of passwords on something written, keep it on you at least. The problem is that if you get your wallet stolen you are still out of luck.
  3. Don’t use the same passwords for every service. I’m not even going to explain this; just don’t do it.

These are just a few things that can be done rather than keeping your passwords in a management system. Personally, with over 100 entries in my password management system, I couldn’t even dream of doing any other way. But those out there with only a few passwords, having a simpler system may be beneficial.

So, if you want to be a “responsible internet citizen” or you just don’t want to lose your precious account data, then creating and maintaining strong passwords for your online accounts is a must.

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