As Hurricane Sandy batters the East Coast, some experts are saying that power outages could affect 60 million people, some for a week or more. After years of living and working near the Jersey Shore where hurricanes and nor’easters are an annual occurrence, I’ve developed a list of tips that help keep productivity humming during power outages.
Power up. Gathering batteries and flashlights and investing in a generator are pre-game activities. Once you’re in the thick of the storm, make sure laptops, tablets, smart phones and battery packs are charged in anticipation of the power going out.
Make contact lists. Collect various methods of contact for each person on your team, as well as clients or others you might need. Today, many people have multiple email addresses, mobile phones that can receive texts, a home line, a LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook account. Having these various methods of contact in one place may help you connect more easily.
Maximize battery life. Take your work offline and use the Internet only when necessary. Similarly, turn off global positioning system, navigation, and other power-sucking apps on your phone and tablet to preserve battery life. Next time, consider a backup charging option for after the lights go out, briefcases and bags which can be charged and, in turn, used to charge your phone or other devices. Pricier options include solar-powered chargers from manufacturers like Goal Zero, which can power everything from a tablet or smart phone to a refrigerator.
Use the cloud. File sharing apps like Google Docs, Dropbox, Box and myriad others allow you to upload files to the cloud and access them from anywhere and on any device. That way, if the laptop battery dies, you can log on with your tablet and still get to work. Files can also be shared with others working remotely. It’s a good disaster preparedness move, too, in case electronics and files in your place of business are damaged.
Call out. Consider calling options like Skype or Google Voice, which can give you the flexibility to phone from various devices.
Go offsite. Once the storm passes, scope out spots like your local coffee shop, library, or diner running on backup generator power. You’ll be able to charge your devices and get out of the house -- and maybe even get a hot cuppa.
Put safety first. OK, I've put this last on this list, but it isn't least. Safety is paramount. It can't be overemphasized. Obey local law enforcement and emergency-management services directives about travel and curfews.
During desperate times, I’ve been known to use my car as a phone charger, but if you do that, make sure you’re in a well-ventilated space before you turn on the ignition and start inhaling emissions. Also, be mindful of the conventional wisdom of using candles for light. Candles cause more than 15,000 home fires per year and can be dangerous if gas leaks are present.
Share your tips for power-free productivity in the Comments section.