First of all, if you’ve been affected by Hurricane Sandy this week, good luck and we’re wishing you a speedy recovery and return to normal.
Here are a few thoughts and tips on coping:
Reach out. The freelance life can feel isolating at a time like this. Remember that you do have a network of support: it just doesn’t look like that of a traditional workplace. Reach out to friends and colleagues who work at home and work for themselves to share stories and find out if people need support. This week, as Elaine (who lives in hard-hit New Jersey) was without power and Internet, I stepped up to take over one of her freelance projects. She did the same for me a couple of months ago. I’m in Alexandria, and thankfully have only had to cope with a couple of days without power and a couple of kids without school.
Be resourceful. If you’re considering becoming a freelancer, an event like Sandy might give you pause. But there are resources that you can tap. Elaine sent me an email from iPhone saying that she’d finally found a lone Taco Bell with an outlet and Internet. I took refuge in a very crowded Panera, gave my kids, who were home from school, their Nooks, and got to work. Panera has a very reliable connection, power outlets, a forgiving staff and better food than Taco Bell.
See the opportunity. A natural disaster also can be a moment to remind clients of your value. People who work in offices naturally are thrown for a loop when that office is closed or they can’t reach it. Those of us who routinely work at home are off and running. It doesn’t hurt to send off the email that says: If you need me, I’m here. Work done in a crisis situation is doubly valued.
Prepare. Finally, Hurricane Sandy is a good reminder to prepare yourself for power outages. I made a great purchase over the weekend: A My-Fi from Verizon. It was expensive: I had to sign two-year contract for $60 a month, but figured that with travel and the extra data time the plan gives me on my phone, the cost was worth it. It certainly felt that way when my Internet service from Comcast went out. I turned on the My-Fi, which takes its signal from Verizon’s extensive mobile network, and was able to keep working for a day that I otherwise would have lost.