Cell Tower and Bald Eagles

Working From Home? Are You Prepared For The Next Power Outage?

Last time I wrote on Hot Blog Tips, I wrote about considering a blogging partnership, which, so far is going amazingly well. I will write more about that on another day. But today I wanted to write about being a blogger and always being prepared for a disaster – from moving to power outages – both of which have affected me at different times.

Moving is going to be stressful in some way, no matter how much planning and organizing goes into it. I know this because I recently moved and despite all my organizing and scheduling, things got confusing and hectic real fast. Power and Internet loss for any reason can wreak havoc on your life and business if you don’t have a plan.

I work from home full-time, so, my biggest concern was not having any downtime with my Internet service. I called the company twice and they promised there would be no downtime, but surely you know what I’m going to say next, right? There was downtime and a lot of it. The last thing you want to deal with while moving is work issues and angry clients when money is flying out the window at the speed of light and faster than you can recuperate it. I learned a few things during the process and thought I would share them below.

Being Available All of the Time

As of 2012, estimates suggest that over fifty million U.S. workers (about 40% of the working population) could work from home – in some fashion – at least part of the time. With that in mind, being available all of the time to respond to current and new clients/readers is essential to the growth of your blog and business. Part of my working from home full-time involves working as a virtual assistant and that means I need to be available at all times. But being available all the time with no internet access can be quite the undertaking.

It was when I found myself on the porch with outdoor patio cushions propping up my laptop, no Internet and everything in complete disarray that panic started to set in.

Utilizing the Right Apps

I have two cell phones – a BlackBerry and an iPhone. The iPhone has more functions than the BlackBerry by far and yet I can’t divorce it, but that’s another story and most definitely not practical for most. During this chaotic move, there were two apps that were my saving grace – Dropbox and Evernote. Hopefully you are smarter than me and already know about how helpful they are.

Dropbox – Your stuff, anywhere… is their motto and that’s why I love this app.  Put all your important files into Dropbox and you can access it from your phone, tablet or computer whether you are at home or the local coffee shop. While waiting for my internet service to transfer to the new house I was able to work on my files without having to be on my laptop. That might not sound like a big deal unless you’ve experienced a similar situation and I sadly learned this after the fact. I now upload everything to Dropbox so it serves as a backup as well. During this move I was also in the process of adopting my nephew so I just had too many reasons to always have access to what I needed no matter where I was.

Evernote – Save anything, anywhere, anytime… You can build a database of information that you need to refer to frequently, save what you need or are currently reading. As a blogger I am always reading about my various niches and bookmarking posts to read or reference later. My post it notes method just doesn’t prove helpful at this point, especially after moving.

Free Wi-Fi

So the apps help with accessing the information but what about when you need to access the information but there is an Internet outage? Free Wi-Fi is one choice as most coffee shops, bookstores and even McDonalds have this option. But if you can’t leave your home you obviously need other options.

Tether Your Cell Phone

Although I work online full-time, I’m not as technically savvy as I would like to be. During my panic that I had to sustain five days with no Internet, my friend asked me why I wasn’t tethering my cellphone to my laptop. I didn’t have a good answer but certainly wished I had known about it before it was needed.

To use your cellphone as a modem you need:

  • A device that will go online – laptop or tablet
  • A data-capable cellphone that can be used a modem
  • A data plan that is required for most smartphones from large companies including AT&T, T-Mobile and others. Once you have the data plan you can connect over Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or USB. There are mobile apps for tethering an Android and other smartphones. Some are free and some have a nominal fee.

Power In Your Driveway

One last helpful tip, make sure you have a way to charge your laptop from your car should you need too. Buy an adapter and have it should you need it.

Have You Lost Power Or Your Internet Connection Recently?

Have you ever gone through a move or lost Internet for a significant amount of time? What did you do to work around it? If I’m missing something good, please do share! I am in Florida after all and hurricanes and power outages go hand-in-hand.

About Chrissie Cole

Chrissie Cole is a freelance writer for various blogs, including Speedy
Incorporation Service
, which helps new small business owners
incorporate online as well as offering advice and information about
running their new business successfully via their small
business tips blog
. Follow Chrissie on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Nice topic Chrissie and I appreciate you sharing your experience with our readers. I was one of the unlucky people that went through the Northeast blackout of 2003 but, luckily, technology has come a long way since then. Just last month we lost power and internet, of course, for a day and a half. To make things worse, it was on the weekend when I do 90% of my online work.

    I was fortunate enough to have the power cords to keep both laptops and my cell phone charged with my pickup truck. I was also able to connect my laptops to the internet by tethering my Android Smart Phone. I use Sprint and they have a service called “Hotspot”. I don’t always have this option on but I do call Sprint whenever I need it (like traveling) and ask them to turn on my mobile Hotspot add-on. That way it’s prorated and I don’t have to pay the entire monthly fee and it’s on in a matter of minutes.

    With the Sprint Mobile Hotspot add-on, I can connect multiple devices at once but the connection isn’t as fast as I’m accustomed to. It came in very handy last month but the connection was too slow for things like video hangouts.

    I guess there is a way to connect one device without paying Sprint. Readers can see How To Tether Your Android Phone For Free for the details.

  2. Hello chrissie,

    This is amazing post you have posted. There are few things which i have unknown before that is the apps like evernote and dropbox. Thanks to you i will be use this app for my blogger backup.

  3. Great topic. I actually work for a Wireless ISP and people love their internet. I know how it is doing Virtual assistant work and you have to available. What works great for me is my smart phone and the available apps I can use to keep me connected. I use Dropbox, but just started using Google Drive and its heaven for me. It was a learning curve, but I say do what works for you and keep your information in the cloud if you can. If I can’t access the information I need via my phone I am lost. Great tips to keep you

  4. Thanks, Brian! I always love blogging here, your readers are so engaging and helpful! As for power outages, aside from the move, I’ve been through a couple hurricanes (Wilma & Katrina) that resulted in not having power for a week on just MY street! Hopefully I won’t find it happening again anytime too soon 🙂

  5. Hi Oliver, thanks for the kind words! I honestly don’t know how I functioned before without the use of Evernote & Dropbox – they are both hugely helpful to me and being able to access stuff across all of my devices. Let me know how they work out for you! 🙂

  6. Thanks, Sonia! I definitely try to make all my information available on my phone(s) because they are always with me too. I’ve not tried Google Drive and honestly don’t know much about it but I will look into it. Never too late to try! Thanks again!

  7. Hi Chrissie Cole,
    Dropbox : this may be very useful as you have mentioned we can work out whereever we are.as you said it must have good backup and security will it have ? then it will be right one.Thanks for posting this awesome article here

    Regards,
    Michael

  8. It can also be a good idea to map out the places around you with internet access when you are in a pinch and you NEED to be online. Coffee shops, lounges, libraries, book stores, whatever may have internet. If the worst should happen and you need to be online for an important meeting or to send an important file, upload an important update, or anything else, it’s always a good idea to have a backup plan ready to go.

  9. Chrissie Cole says

    Great advice, Paul! I need to add that to my list! Something so simple can be so helpful when tensions are high and chaotic. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  10. Hello Cole, i read the title of this post and i thought you were from Nigeria. Not funny, when i hear power outage that is where my mind always go. Well, it was educating especially for bloggers, its good to spend quality time online so you can respond to your visitors on time and keep your site running effectively. Anytime power goes out, i have a standby mini generator in my workplace, i just put it on for the meantime.

  11. Great share Chrissie. Love the tips about Thetering your cell phone to go Online, and then use Dropbox to send out your writings or postings. I have not experienced complete power lost for weeks yet, but I will begin to prepare with your tips. Again, thanks, James.

  12. Chrissie Cole says

    Thanks James! I am glad you found them helpful! Have a fabulous day 🙂

  13. Chrissie Cole says

    Thanks for commenting! I’m in Florida, not Nigeria 🙂 It is definitely good to always be able to respond to visitors and keep them happy and engaged. As for a generator, I don’t have one and I really should. It’s one of those things I always say is on my list. Thanks again!

  14. Hi James,

    Thanks For the nice topic! This is something that we never think of until it happens.

    Thanks for sharing!

  15. Hi Chrissie,

    Thanks For the nice topic! This is something that we never think of until it happens.

    Thanks for sharing!

  16. Indeed, if you are working from home you need to be available all the time for your clients. However you can make a schedule that can suit your needs . In case of a power outage? There is always the possibility to use your laptop or a wireless 3G or 4G connection. Cheers!

  17. I have been in your shoes before but did not manage the challenge very since I was not aware of some of the tools and apps you shared in this post but now I have seen greenlight fromyour post and the comment above on how to handle power outage and internet connection problem in the future

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