Happy new year, everyone! It's seriously hard to believe that 2011 has already come and gone. It feels like just yesterday that I was kicked back, enjoying my summer vacation. Now it's already 2012 and I'm not even sure what to make of it. I swear, if you blink your eyes anymore, you'll miss everything.
In all seriousness, though, 2011 was one of the best years of my life, both on personal level and professionally. It was my first year of living on my own (yeah, I'm just a baby) and I got to meet some truly awesome people. And while I've technically been working with PhoneDog since 2010 (2009 if you really want to get technical), 2011 was the year that everything settled and the realization set it that writing about phones is actually what I do for a living now – something I never imagined I would be doing, or even thought possible, for that matter.
And 2012? If last year was any indication of how crazy and jam-packed with bizarre news and radical changes this year will be, we're going to have our hands full trying to keep up with everything.
With all of that said, and despite 2011 being an amazing year, I had my fair share of problems. We all did. Mine weren't necessarily bad problems. But they're nothing to be especially proud of either. So, as most people do, I've come up with a few New Year's resolutions to help abate some of my addictions to technology and less honorable habits.
Buy fewer gadgets, enjoy the ones I have
In 2011, I owned somewhere around 20 phones, 10 tablets, who knows how many accessories and a few different laptops. If you do the math, it's pretty clear that one of my favorite hobbies – collecting mobile devices – isn't a cheap one to have.
My bank account and wallet both hate me. Of course, I also did my fair share of trading and selling of devices, too. But even with that, when you consider how quickly the value of a phone drops these days, that habit is no longer sustainable unless you put a lot of time and effort into it – neither of which I have. I actually made this vow before the new year even started, but in 2012, I plan on buying fewer gadgets all around. That means I will be buying fewer phones, fewer tablets and fewer of everything in between.
I have set myself up pretty well over the last few months, with a Galaxy Nexus, iPhone 4S, Galaxy Tab 10.1 and a 13.3-inch MacBook Air. I should be good for a while at least. And I am trying to be realistic about it; I know there will be plenty of tempting devices through the months, so I've allowed a few purchases beforehand, like the iPhone 5, the next Nexus and maybe a something totally bizarre and new. And I've already made plans to purchase a Transformer Prime after I sell off a few gadgets that have been collecting dust lately.
I know that still probably sounds like a lot. I've got a problem, I know. But hey, I've got to have some new things to play with. So shoot me. Three (maybe four) devices total is a large step back from 30 or more.
Fewer pictures of food
I love Twitter. And food. And taking pictures. ... And taking pictures of food (or lattes) and posting them to Twitter. I also share those pictures with Facebook. Among my friends and several colleagues, I've earned the reputation of "that guy who always posts pictures of food and inevitably makes me hungry." Something along those lines.
I'm aware that this is a resolution that I will probably never stick to. But I'm at least going to try ... for a few weeks.
Go to bed earlier
If there is one thing I got really good at in 2011, it was going to bed way too late. All of my fall semester classes were online and I work from home, meaning I was not tied to the traditional sleep schedules of everyone else on the east coast. I can recall two times in the past year that I went to bed before 4 AM, and both of those were this past week. More often than not, I found myself working until 6 or 8 AM before passing out, then waking up between 10 AM and 1 PM.
I know you're asking how this is tech-related, and my answer to that is it could not possibly be any more tech-related. Last March, I wrote about how technology was to blame for my insomnia. In short, the brightness of the display fools the brain and suppresses the release of melatonin, a sleep-promoting hormone. In other words, it's unnatural and keeps the brain working at full speed instead of slowing down after the sun sets.
I've tried several ways to justify this, and some – like the fact that I work better and get more done in less time at night because people aren't interrupting me every half hour – are very likely. But there is nothing even remotely assuring about waking up at 1 PM. Even though I was getting enough sleep (on most nights) and was staying awake as long as everyone else, it felt as if the whole day was wasted. It's just how our brains are trained to think.
In 2012, I've decided that there are no gadgets allowed in the bedroom. Okay, maybe in the bedroom, but across the room from my bed, on silent, face down. Like I mentioned above, I went to bed early twice this past week and woke up like a normal human being at 8 AM. It felt fantastic. Among eating healthier and losing some weight, like typical New Year's resolutions, I plan on going to bed earlier and waking up at a decent hour for once.
Fewer references to work in casual conversation
I write. A lot. You probably already know that. In all of my writing, I voice a lot of opinions about a lot of things. As you would expect, in casual conversation with friends, colleagues or even on the Untethered Podcast, I have the habit of saying, "You know, I wrote an article about that." Truth be told, I probably wrote about it three or four times. Half of the time I get a rebuttal along the lines of, "I know," or "What haven't you written about?"
The point is, most people probably don't care. And to be honest, I wish I talked about gadgets less anyway. I spend five or six days per week writing about these things and can't find an escape, even when I visit my family that isn't very tech savvy. I walked into my grandmother's house for our annual Christmas Eve dinner just last Saturday and I can't count the number of times I was asked, "What phone are you carrying now?" or "Do you have that new DROID?"
I always feel too connected and am always talking about gadgets and other mobile-related stuff. It's not that I hate any of it or want it to go away, but like a nice, solid relationship that you don't want to lose, I need some distance every now and then so I don't get burned out. Getting burned out (on technology in general, not writing) is the last thing I want to happen. That's what my time off is for, yet I spend my time off talking about nothing but phones, tablets and everything else. It won't happen immediately, but this is something I really plan on focusing on fixing in the coming months.
Here's to hoping I can stick to these resolutions, among other things. This year is going to be awesome; I have very high hopes for the months ahead, and I wish prosperity, good health and fortune on each and every one of you! If you have any gadget-related resolutions, share them below! And if you think I'm going to fail at one – or all – of these, tell it in the comments. I'm going to need some encouragement.
Update: It was brought to my attention by a reader that I used the term "less" incorrectly (more times than once), so I've updated the article to be more gramatically correct.