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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 October 15, 2019

      How to Plan Your Life Goals and Actually Achieve Them in 7 Simple Steps

      How to Plan Your Life Goals and Actually Achieve Them in 7 Simple Steps

      Where do you want to be 5 years from now, 10 years from now, or even this time next year? These places are your goal destinations and although you might know that you don’t want to be standing still in the same place as you are now, it’s not always easy to identify what your real goals are.

      Many people think that setting a goal destination is having a dream that is there in the far distant future but will never be attained. This proves to be a self-fulfilling prophesy because of two things:

      Firstly, that the goal isn’t specifically defined enough in the first place; and secondly, it remains a remote dream waiting for action which is never taken.

      Defining your goal destination is something that you need to take some time to think carefully about. The following steps on how to plan your life goals should get you started on a journey to your destination:

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      1. Make a list of your goal destinations

      Goal destinations are the things that are important to you. Another word for them would be ambitions, but ambitions sound like something which outside of your grasp, whereas goal destinations are certainly achievable if you are willing to put in the effort working towards them.

      So what do you really want to do with your life? What are the main things that you would like to accomplish with your life? What is it that you would really regret not doing if you suddenly found you had a limited amount of time left on the earth?

      Each of these things is a goal. Define each goal destination in one sentence.

      If any of these goals is a stepping stone to another one of the goals, take it off this list as it isn’t a goal destination.

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      2. Think about the time frame to have the goal accomplished

      This is where the 5 year, 10 year, next year plan comes into it.

      Some goals will have a “shelf life” because of age, health, finance, etc, whereas others will be up to you as to when you would like to achieve them by.

      3. Write down your goals clearly

      Write each goal destination at the top of a new piece of paper.

      For each goal, write down what is it that you need and don’t have now that will allow you achieve that goal. This could be some kind of education, career change, finance, a new skill, etc. Any “stepping stone” goals you removed will fit into this exercise. If any of these smaller “goals” have sub-goals, go through the same process with these so that you have precise action points to work with.

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      4. Write down what you need to do for each goal

      Under each item listed, write down the things that you will need to do in order to complete each of the steps required to complete the goal. 

      These items will become a check-list. They are a tangible way of checking how you are progressing towards reaching your goal destinations. A record of your success!

      5. Write down your timeframe with specific and realistic dates

      Using the time frames you created, on each goal destination sheet write down the year in which you will complete the goal by.

      For any goal which has no fixed completion date, think about when you would like to have accomplished it by and use that as your destination date.

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      Work within the time frames for each goal destination, make a note of realistic dates by which you will complete each of the small steps.

      6. Schedule your to-dos

      Now take an overview of all your goal destinations and make a schedule of what you need to do this week, this month, this year – in order to progress along the road towards your goal destinations.

      Write these action points on a schedule so that you have definite dates on which to do things.

      7. Review your progress

      At the end of the year, review what you have done this year, mark things off the check-lists for each goal destination and write up the schedule with the action points you need for the next year.

      Although it may take you several years to, for example, get the promotion you desire because you first need to get the MBA which means getting a job with more money to allow you to finance a part-time degree course, you will ultimately be successful in achieving your goal destination because you have planned out not only what you want, but how to get it, and have been pro-active towards achieving it.

      Featured photo credit: Debby Hudson via unsplash.com

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