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Show of hands…Who likes passwords?

Ok, so maybe it’s not the password itself you hate, it’s knowing that it is just one more spark in your digital life to try and keep from turning into an all-out forest fire. We’ve all been there, and if we’re being honest, most of us still are.

We have umpteen (that’s a highly technical term for more than 20 and less than 1,000) sites, pins, usernames and passwords for the digital life we lead. Online, you can’t buy a book, sign up for a blog, sell your 1995 Chevet or balance your checking account without a login and password.

So at the last minute when we are signing up for that new online account, it’s late and the kids are screaming…you cave in and use the login and password that you used for the last 37 accounts you signed up for this week.

After all we really don’t want to make it too difficult for someone to access our entire retirement account using the same password you set for your newspaper subscription. [insert sarcastic tone]

Has the one password that you started our AOL account with in 1995 become the default “go-to” for every password you have?

But believe it or not, there is a solution. And YOU can do it. There is a method to better protect our personal data that helps define our digital lives.

It starts with organization.

I asked 4 of my closest friends how many passwords they had. Most of them said less than 10. Yet they used them for some 40 or 50 accounts. And depending on the type of work that you do, that number could easily be doubled if you count home and work together. So organizing those accounts and passwords is key.

The question becomes, “How do I organize them and keep them safe?” There are all kinds of methods that could be used. Some of them involve more technology than most people want to fool with. And the very process you are trying to simplify would probably give you that “deer in the headlights” look. However, if you take some initial steps, you will be much more secure than you probably are right now.

Start by recording ALL the accounts, subscriptions and sites that you have logins and passwords for. Fill it out by hand or on your computer, but do not save a copy of the completed form on your computer!

This is a big step for most people. So gather up your post it notes and paper trail and take the time to organize them completely.

Now you need a password manager. A couple of the most popular are LastPass and 1Password. I personally use LastPass. It has a free version and the paid version is only $12/year (as of this writing) to include your smartphone.

Once you download LastPass for your computer (PC or Mac) you can start the process of storing passwords in your new vault. Every time you visit a site that requires a login and password, a small reminder asks you if you want to save that site, along with the login/password, to your vault.

You can use your own password, or it can generate one for you. The beauty is, you don’t have to remember each password. If you have saved it to your vault, it keeps it safe there.

The keys are organization and security. If you don’t organize your digital life, you risk hackers, lost identity and huge headaches. If you don’t have a digital security plan now, a program like LastPass can be a huge step in the right direction.

If you have to spend time looking for post it notes or submitting requests to reset your password, you are taking time away from doing something profitable in your business or life.

Block out some time to get things set up and just do it!

Bottom Line: Admit you have a password problem and commit to organizing it.

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About Brian Richardson

Entrepreneur, father, grandfather, Christian, start-up fanatic