Tech can be marvelous. But it can also make a mess of our lives, what with all those time-sucking apps, dying batteries, privacy trade-offs and miles upon miles of cords.

As the new year approaches, I've decided to take stock of my own personal tech. How can I use gadgets more wisely? How can I harness the Internet's bounty to make the world a better place? How can I not drop my smartphone into water where it doesn't belong?

I humbly submit my Top Ten Tech Resolutions for 2014.

1. I Will Avoid the Rabbit Hole

Every Sunday, I sit down with the newspaper, a cup of coffee and my iPhone. And every Sunday, instead of reading the paper, I invariably lose myself in the digital labyrinth within that phone. It might start with a simple incoming email, which leads to Googling some trivia about Borneo, which leads to checking air prices to Borneo, which leads to watching YouTube videos on the wonders of Borneo. An hour vanishes. The coffee is gone but the paper sits unread. This must stop.

"The important thing is to set achievable goals,'' says Tanya Schevitz with Reboot, a national think-tank that launched the National Day of Unplugging. "Tell yourself you'll read 10 pages of the paper before you ever touch your phone. The key is that you become aware of the habit and how much time you're spending on these devices. Eventually, make it a goal to read the paper without your phone around at all.''

2. I Will Plug In Before Hitting the Gas

My morning automotive/digital routine goes like this: Get into car, start to drive, put on seat belt, plug one smartphone into car radio jack and a charger, plug second phone into second charger, call up music-streaming app, select playlist, plug earbuds into second phone, make phone calls. It's mobile multitasking on steroids. My new routine will reverse that process so that I'm totally plugged and belted in before I put the car into drive.

3. Buy My 95-year-old Mother a Cellphone

She's sharp as a tack, cherishes her independence, and still drives on her own around the Bay Area. But she's essentially incommunicado on the road and has never picked up a mobile device. With the help of a senior-targeted cellphone like the Jitterbug (no contract, big buttons, loud speaker, simple menu), I'll see to it that Mom is tech-tethered to her family, just in case.

4. I Will Weed Out My Smartphone App Garden

My app collection is out of control. For years now, I've been downloading what initially seemed like cute little tools to increase productivity, improve my finances, check the ski slopes, or entertain myself with mind-numbing games. No more. I will go through the app thicket with a sharpened finger hitting DELETE until I've eliminated all but the most essential tools. Goodbye TurboScan and SeatGuru. Hello Netflix (NFLX) and Fandango.

5. I Will Replenish My Kiva Account

After initially donating $110 to the microloan site back in 2007, I've lent small amounts of money to dozens of people around the world, including "Huseyn,'' a refugee in Azerbaijan who used his loan to buy a calf for his modest cattle-breeding startup. But the loans have been on autopilot for the past six years, with that same $110 being loaned out, repaid, then loaned out again, over and over, without me so much as checking the account. I love this application of technology, helping low-income entrepreneurs from China to Chile launch and run small businesses. I'll go into the site and double my donation in 2014.

6. I Will Not Drop My Smartphone Into a Toilet

This was not a good year for me, smartphone-in-toilet-wise. It happened in a Parisian hotel. I was jet-lagged. Don't ask. I promptly fetched it, then wrapped it in a bag of rice, a trick that some swear will absorb any water from the device. But I must have gotten rice jammed into the power cord connector, because I couldn't charge the phone anymore. Don't ask. Days later, a shop owner in Edinburgh was able to dislodge the offending grain, and the phone was good to go. I will do everything in my power to avoid a 2014 repeat of this unfortunate experience.

7. I Will Aggressively Track Down Ray's Carpet Cleaning and Make Ray's Life as Miserable as He's Made Mine

For more than two years now, despite being on the Do Not Call Registry and repeatedly filing complaints with the Federal Trade Commission, I've been harassed at home by repeated robocalls from Ray's Carpet Cleaning. "HELLO!'' he robo-screams. "ARE YOUR CARPETS DIRTY?'' The callback number's bogus. I don't think Ray even exists. I think it's some rogue computer overseas that's been programmed to drive me insane. Next year, I'll go after Ray again, but this time I'll enlist Aaron Foss and his robocall-killing Nomorobo website in the battle.

"We can give you robocall protection,'' he assured me. I sign up for free, make sure Ray's number is on the black list, and Foss' software does the rest. "Basically, when Ray's calls you, the phone rings on our server at the same time and it looks at caller ID and see's Ray's number and we essentially pick up the phone for you and hang it up immediately. You'd hear only a half-ring, but Ray's call would never come through.''

8. I Will Explore Spotify Alternatives

As much as I love Spotify, the music-streaming smorgasbord that has exposed me to tons of new artists, I'm wondering whether I jumped too quickly from the free, ad-based version to the $9.99-a-month subscription model. With a whole range of streamers available, from Pandora to Apple's (AAPL) new iTunes Radio, perhaps there's a better -- and cheaper -- alternative. I plan to carefully research the options in January and, if I find something better, drop Spotify.

9. I Will Try to Get Somewhere Without Google Maps

I admit it: I've become a Google (GOOG) Maps addict, unable to drive anywhere without grabbing the phone, speaking my destination, then watching as this amazing tool kicks into gear, verbally escorting me along my path. But it's not healthy to be so reliant on this sort of technological crutch, so I'm giving myself an intervention. I will try and drive to a new location once a week without relying on Google Maps. Unless, of course, I get lost, in which case I will allow myself to once again feed my addiction.

10. I Will Shamelessly Promote My New Instagram Account

I love martinis -- Tanqueray, up with a twist, very dry, very cold, stirred not shaken, to be exact. I love them so much that I've created MyMartiniRomance as a sort of public shrine on Instagram for my cocktail fetish.

In 2014, I resolve to post more martini photos more often from more locations around the globe so that martini lovers everywhere can celebrate with me that one perfect thing about life on Earth.

Contact Patrick May at 408-920-5689 or follow him at Twitter.com/patmaymerc