Gemma Styles | Contributing writer | Saturday, 2 January 2016

Gemma Styles 3rd January

Gemma Styles: My 2016 Tech Resolutions

The Debrief: Hoping that I'll cut back on the Instagram cat pics in 2016? Not a chance...

Photograph by Matilda Hill-Jenkins


Well good morning fine people and a happy 2016 to you! Sadly the merriment cannot last forever and now the tinsel, leftover trifle and novelty date shaped glasses are all on their way to the bin, it’s time to start pondering on the year ahead. Let’s hastily forget the ill advised midnight smooches that actually brought in the New Year and instead focus on some much better intentioned resolution ideas – with a techy flavour, of course.

Declutter your emails 

From bars in towns you no longer live in, to online shops you bought one gift from three years ago, most of us are guilty of letting our inboxes become like strange collections of clues to our former selves. It might not be spam exactly, but it’s not especially relevant any more… and you’re sure as hell not reading it all. If you’re anything like me then you get so used to things being useless robotic marketing emails that you start to miss actual good messages from your human friends, colleagues etc. Getting rid of some of the clutter should hopefully make all your digital correspondence much easier to keep on top of. Some email providers include helpful features to help tackle your e-trash; look out for options like ‘Sweep’ in Microsoft Outlook which allows you to delete heaps of old rubbish in one fell swoop.

Make apps work harder for you 

As much as apps on your phone can be fun – they can also be functional. Day planners, fitness trackers, brain training. What better use of a smart phone than to actually make you smarter, eh? One I’ve downloaded recently is Duolingo, a great free language app where you can set achievable practice goals as well as track your progress against your friends. Having someone to do your resolutions with makes them loads easier to stick to – maybe you could even aim for a weekend away later in the year to test out your new skills in their native country…? If I’d have spent half as much time practising French this year as I have playing Two Dots then maybe I’d actually be able to understand the answer when I’m asking où est la gare? 

Put the screen to bed

We all know it’s a bad habit. Staring at our screens before we go to bed is proven to affect the duration and quality of our sleep – as well as making us feel more tired the next day. Really we should be forgoing our devices for at least an hour before lights out in order to let our brains realise it’s dark (and therefore time for a much-needed slumber).

Now in reality this is a big ask for most people. Whether you’re glued to your eReader at bed time or are plagued with too much Whatsapp group FOMO – it is actually a bit of a struggle. For the phone addicted, show willing by trying one of the various apps available to cut blue light from your screen; the blue light frequency emitted from our displays is said (by science type folk) to be one of the most disruptive elements to our sleep. Search for ‘blue light filter’ in your app store and you should come up with various options to minimise it. If you’re a bookworm then in the evening try and opt for an actual book – and feel the benefits when you wake up both well-read and refreshed. Good for you.

Wish me luck with trying these out. And for anyone who was hoping to see a cutback in cat pictures on this list… Fat. Chance. Pal.


Tags: Tech, Gemma Styles