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Why Haven’t You Organized Your Passwords?

Why Haven’t You Organized Your Passwords?

Keys

    In my work with clients I have run into passwords in all kinds of unbelievably random and insecure places. I always shrink back from them when I see them… I don’t want to know! Passwords are the key to unimaginable ruin in the wrong hands, and it consistently shocks me how careless people are with this information. (It’s just as bad as how often I see people who don’t do computer backups!)

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    “I don’t need to have a system… I have one password I use for everything.”
    Think again. I know of a person in my area whose Yahoo e-mail password was compromised, and once the thief infiltrated his e-mail account he used forgotten password functi

      ons on other websites to unlock many more (they were just emailed right to him!). Since the thief quickly realized that the same password had been used for everything, it was a piece of cake for all accounts to be penetrated. By the time the victim discovered the breach, all hell had broken loose, involving eBay, PayPal, and $32,000 of merchandise about to be shipped to Africa… no kidding.

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      Lessons learned: Use a very strong password to protect your e-mail account, guard it fiercely, and use different passwords to avoid one compromising all of the others.

      You also need to be mindful of being hit by the proverbial bus. Would important people know how to get this information if something happened to you? Make sure that you do have a system and that someone else knows how to access it in an emergency.

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      Electronic Password Keepers
      There are many great database applications made for storing passwords. A previous Lifehack article by Leo Babauta lists ten free apps you can use, but I like SplashID, which costs $20, is available for both Mac and PC, and synchronizes its desktop component with almost all major PDA platforms. I really like having my information with me, securely encrypted, when I am away from my desk. Whatever application you choose, DON’T use a Word or Excel document for this purpose (especially one named “PASSWORDS”) that can be easily infiltrated.

      Along with passwords and other login information, I also enjoy using the SplashID database for keeping many other data tidbits, such as software licensing information, identification numbers like my family’s Social Security numbers, my cars’ VIN numbers, computer support information and service tags, and frequent flyer program numbers.

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      Paper-Based Password Keepers
      Some people are reluctant to use electronic solutions, and if so, you can either repurpose an address book or use a 3×5” index card file. (I am sure our loyal readers will have a few suggestions, too.) There are also a few products on the market now that are made just for this purpose, such as the Internet Password Organizer. It’s basically a black, nondescript book with laminated alphabetical index tabs like an address book, but the printed fields are tailored to computer-related needs.

      Tips on Paper-Based Systems:

      • Use a pencil to write down your entries as they may change.
      • Don’t label your card file box or password keeper book with the word “PASSWORDS!” Keep it on the down-low.
      • You may want to write down the passwords as “hints” instead of the actual passwords, in case your password keeper is lost or compromised. For a password like “fido1995,” you might write a hint like “dog+year” that you’ll definitely remember.
      • If you use index cards, they have more room to write other details about the account, such as logs of customer service notes or order dates.
      • Do NOT write password hints that are relative to other accounts, like “same as Amazon,” because that can become a big cross-referencing mess quickly when you change the referred-to accounts.

      On a final note, PLEASE do not use your birthday or your children’s names any more! (See this previous Lifehack article on how to create strong passwords.) Whether your system is electronic or paper, one of the best advantages of having a system is that you can use even more secure passwords and change them up, since you are no longer relying on your own memory.

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      Last Updated on July 27, 2020

      20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

      20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

      Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

      If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

      1. Create a Daily Plan

      Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

      Here’s How to Create a To-Do List that Super Boosts Your Productivity.

      2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task

      Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

      3. Use a Calendar

      Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

      I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .

      Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

      4. Use an Organizer

      An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

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      These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.

      5. Know Your Deadlines

      When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

      But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

      6. Learn to Say “No”

      Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

      Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

      7. Target to Be Early

      When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

      For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

      Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

      8. Time Box Your Activities

      This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

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      You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: Get What Matters Done by Scheduling Time Blocks

      9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You

      Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

      10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before

      Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

      You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

      11. Focus

      Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

      Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

      Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

      12. Block out Distractions

      What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

      I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

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      When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

      Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

      13. Track Your Time Spent

      When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.

      You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.

      14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details

      You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

      Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

      15. Prioritize

      Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

      Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

      16. Delegate

      If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

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      When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

      17. Batch Similar Tasks Together

      For related work, batch them together.

      For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

      1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
      2. coaching
      3. workshop development
      4. business development
      5. administrative

      I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

      18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters

      What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

      One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

      While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

      19. Cut off When You Need To

      The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

      Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

      20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between

      Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

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      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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