When we were moving into our new home a couple of years ago, we decided we didn’t need a landline anymore. Unfortunately, we moved to an area where the cell service is really poor. So we are almost totally dependent on the internet for any phone connection.
Well, one Thursday, our internet just stopped. Every once in a while it would pop on, but then it would stop again. We called tech support on Friday, they ran a bunch of tests to finally determine there were two pods we needed to replace. But by then it was past their office hours on Friday. This wasn’t going to be solved in one day
So we had to go without—and I mean without. We couldn’t reach our kids, or anyone else, for the entire weekend. We also couldn’t watch TV, because we went total internet there. We were really off the grid.
First thing Monday morning, I was waiting outside before they even opened. I got the two replacement pods, drove them home, and they didn’t work. So I was back on the phone to troubleshoot some more. It was mid-afternoon on Monday before we were back online.
If this four-day outage had occurred from Monday to Thursday, I would have lost a week of work. (Not to mention being out of touch from our kids!)
So what are some of the things you absolutely need in order to do your job? How do you care for them? Here are some thoughts to get you started:
1. Have a backup location where you can get online—and a backup for your backup.
There may be a public library or café with good internet—but they’re probably not open 24/7. And if it’s close enough to be convenient, what’s affecting your internet might be affecting them as well. So have a list of three or four options to be safe.
Make a list of tasks you can only do online, so you can work through those and then get back to your regular office where you’re more comfortable.
2. Understand your options and what extra costs might occur.
For example, you might be able to use your phone as a hotspot, but that might use more data. I’m thinking about reinstating a landline at home, so then I can at least call my clients and call in to teach Zoom classes. It will be a worthwhile monthly expense for the peace of mind. I’m also looking into what I can do to strengthen my cell service, in the same way these pods are strengthening our internet connection.
3. Back up your data and your devices.
How many phone numbers do you know from memory? Consider keeping a list of essential numbers printed out and handy with you at all times. This can help even in silly situations like having forgotten your phone or let it run out of battery. This way you can borrow a phone and still reach your contacts.
4. Keep your devices up to date.
This applies to security updates for your apps and operating systems, and the devices themselves. When I first launched full time as a coach 20 years ago, I was told to replace my laptop every two to two-and-a-half years, whether the old one is still working or not, just so I’d never be stuck.
I certainly haven’t followed that advice completely. Machines are much better made now (my current laptop is about five years old and going strong). What’s most important is to back them up. And if you do decide to preemptively replace your machine (even if just to get the latest bells and whistles), consider ways to extend the life of your current machine.
5. Have a backup computer.
I don’t currently have a backup for my five-year-old computer other than my cell phone. I don’t know about you, but I’m at the age where it’s really hard for me to see things on my cell phone sometimes.
So yeah, the phone is not a good backup for working. Now I’m thinking about a simple laptop or Chromebook.
6. Take a breath and ask, “How important is it, really?”
People get sick, people run into difficult situations, sometimes we just can’t do our regularly scheduled work activities, and that’s okay. You could even look at an internet or power outage as the universe’s way of forcing you to slow down and give yourself some space.
This list is nowhere near complete. So, tell me, what have I missed? What’s your backup plan?