I’m taking a break from prepping for hurricane Matthew (tired of this now) and have to apologize for not getting this out earlier, especially considering the damage already done in the Caribbean.
When it comes to natural disasters, hurricanes, if I had to choose, would be at the top of my list (that’s a big reason I live on the East Coast of the U.S.)–they’re navigable as far as disasters go. They at least give you a heads up (not like those rude earthquakes and tornadoes) and you usually get a bit of time to get yourself together. The downside of that though, is that you spend days in a funk of subdued anxiety, just waiting for a disaster that might or might not happen.
Me, I’ve spent the last few days trying to get not only my physical self prepared, but also my freelance business. The last thing you should be worrying about during and after a natural disaster is client work, so I wanted to share a few things I’ve done that have helped me navigate this (relatively) smoothly. Depending on where you live, the time your power is down could be a few days to weeks, so your plan might need to adjust a bit to fit your local concerns. (Would love to hear from the folks in the Caribbean around how they prepare.)
Protect Your Work
This is something you should be doing early, but keep your work files and documents backed up, especially if you don’t work in the cloud. Floods can destroy electronics and files, and the last thing you want to do is have to try to reconstruct things from memory once you’re up and running.
Keep external drives in air-tight plastic bags and make use of online storage where you can.
Keep Your Electronics Charged
It’s a general hurricane rule that you keep your electronics charge, but consider investing in a portable charger or two also to give yourself a bit more time on devices should you need it.
Communicate Early With Your Clients
This might be the most important point for freelancers, but talk to your clients.
Even though I work with people around the world, they all know where I’m located. Once I found out there was a good chance my work was interrupted, I sent emails on any outstanding work, contracts, and meetings, and either rescheduled (letting them know why) or just let them know to expect some bumps in production from me over the next week or so. I also contacted an editor to let him know I might be late on my next assignment. (Everybody was completely understanding and most were happy to just wait until things had passed.)
Make a “Must-Do” List
So I’m kinda finishing this up now, but I have a few things that have to get done before I shut down shop. That includes the backups, sending out a couple of emails, paying a few bills that could come due while the power is out, depositing some checks, sending an invoice, and completing a post or two. I’ll know that once that’s done I can put my mind at ease and just focus on staying safe.
If you’re not a heavy mobile worker, now might be the time to get on board.
Having email, documents, and client contacts on your phone or tablet can be a business-saver when you might not be able to use your home set-up for few days (but still might be able to get to some local wi-fi and outlets.)
Consider a Disaster Fund
You might not be at a point where you can stash away some extra money to get you through a disaster-induced down period, but even if you aren’t, consider it one day. Not having to worry about money during a time like this can be a huge weight off.
Keep a Few Things Running
Don’t shut everything down though. I’ve queued up my social schedulers because to be honest, the rest of the world is still going, and there’s no reason not to keep my automated marketing running too.
Have a Return Plan
Know what you want to do once things are back up and running. Who do you want to contact first? Is there anything you need to get to immediately once you’re working again? Getting back into work after a break from a natural disaster can be disorienting and stressful, and having a plan can make your return much easier.
If you’ve got any advice for freelancers navigating natural disasters, leave em in the comments!