If social media posts are any indication, most of you are going more than a little stir crazy as we stumble into the 9th official week of the Covid-19 Pandemic. Many of you are taking on new hobbies or rediscovering old ones, resulting in an explosion of sourdough diversity, hilarious pet/family videos, close-up magic tricks, and a plethora of homemade crafts ranging from wondrous to WTF. And that was just what graced my screens in the past hour. If you’ve grown tired of re-arranging your kitchen cabinets or closets, or moving your office furniture around for the umpteenth time trying to find the perfect angle for your next video conference, I’ve got some “rainy day” activities that are also perfect for distracting you from the quarantine crazies.
From the “Here he goes with the lists again,” department
- Create a list of your home’s service providers. Create a document listing every service you use in your personal life that has the following info on it: Company name, service provided, website address, customer service phone number, account number (or login ID), payment method (and last 4 of card used) and monthly billed amount (avg or fixed). And I’m not just talking about tech services – you should list utilities, subscriptions, anything you consider important enough to pay monthly (or annually) AND the services you may not be paying for (e.g. personal email accounts from Yahoo, Gmail, etc.) Having the info handy will save you a lot of stress when that service is suddenly discontinued or not operating as expected. And by handy, I mean, print it out and stick it somewhere easy to get to, like your fridge or home bulletin board. Also keep track of where you saved that file on your computer. And don’t put any passwords in it – that’s the next to do.
- Put your passwords into a password manager. This is a task that people dread doing if they haven’t already done so, but it’s surprisingly easy once you get past the decision to adopt the password-manager lifestyle. Pick a password manager. Our family is using LastPass, but my clients also like 1Password, and Dashlane, all three of which I can comfortably recommend. They are affordable, offer family plans and sharing options, and all have easy-to-use smartphone apps and browser plugins that will simplify tracking and using passwords. Because let’s face it, passwords aren’t going anywhere – most of us have dozens, if not more than one hundred passwords to keep track of, and if you are observing proper security, you are using unique passwords for all your important sites, aren’t you? No? Take a look at the next rainy-day activity.
- Change your weak, overly-used, probably compromised passwords. Have a visit to https://haveibeenpwned.com/Passwords and type in one of your “favorite” passwords. If it shows up on that list, you should immediately go out and change it anywhere it’s been used. Even if it hasn’t been found on the dark web it’s only a matter of time, so if you’ve used it more than once, change it to something unique and hard to guess. This will go real quick if you’ve created a list of services (#1), and started using a password manager (#2), which will allow you to create and save these passwords. Once this particular activity has given you sufficient gray hairs, try entering your email addresses on that same site.
Keep going, don’t give up.
This doesn’t have to be done in a day – for some of you, this may take several days, especially if you can only devote an hour or two to the project, but you will feel a lot more accomplished than rearranging your kitchen junk drawer for the 3rd time, and you will be a lot more secure and prepared for when something other than a pandemic strikes. Add more entries to your list from #1, then take a look at how many passwords you’ve put in #2. Add more passwords from family members who don’t have the technical competence or patience to do it for themselves. Marvel at the number of passwords you have in your personal database, and then give yourself a reward. Those baked goods won’t eat themselves!
Image by thedarknut from Pixabay