I’ve been working from home for years but most people haven’t. If that’s you and you haven’t read D.E. Haggerty’s excellent post on how to work from home, do it! I’ll wait…
While you read: I posted this article about a year ago but have updated it for the challenges we now face with #covid19
Truth is, life often interferes with work. Vacations, conferences, PD–all these take us away from our primary job functions and the environment where we are most comfortable delivering our best work. But you do need the right equipment and setup to make that happen. Here’s what I came up with that I either currently use to write from home or can easily arrange:
- Have necessary apps on iPads and smartphones. This includes your favorite writing tool, email, fax, scan, social media, and sharing.
- Have a digital notetaking program–Evernote, OneNote, Notability, or Google Keep for example.
- Have a cloud-based fax program like RingCentral if you need fax. Through these, you upload the doc to fax, and then send to your editor’s fax number. When someone faxes you, they don’t see the difference between the typical fax machine that takes up room on your desktop. Update: I had this for years and just recently cancelled it. Most companies I write for don’t use fax anymore. Email with a scan of the doc is fine.
- Wean yourself from hard copies. It’s easier to do than it sounds. My printer broke–well, it wouldn’t print more than one page without jamming. That made it hard to print out documents such as the submittals for my writer’s group. Instead, I used my iPad (or laptop) loaded with the doc as though it was the page. I emailed the file to the submitter rather than give her/him a printed copy. I am now completely used to that–would never go back to the paper-wasting approach. Of course, that was before we couldn’t meet but that’s another story.
- If you go somewhere else to write (I was going to say a coffee shop but that’s off the table this month), don’t use a public WiFi. Use a hot spot connected to your phone. Public WiFi like Starbucks is notoriously insecure.
- Be brave about solving problems–don’t let setbacks and roadblocks stop you, be accountable to yourself or you won’t get stuff done. I have to say, so many of my fellow writers are risk-takers. They have a problem dumped in their lap and work their way through it. Kudos!
- Download books to your iPad/reader/smartphone (not in cloud). This is just to be prepared.
- Have a virtual meeting program like MS Teams, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Google Meet, Webroom.net, Big Blue Button, or another. These are for larger groups (like a book club meeting). Family video calls work nicely with programs like Facetime, Skype, or Google Hangouts.
- Have backup batteries for your phone, laptop, and iPad. You’re using them a lot more than usual. They’ll run through your power more quickly than you’re accustomed to. And, videos, personal hotspots and Google Maps burn through power. What should last nine hours turns out to be two.
- Have redundancy where something is important. For example, my external battery charger died and my iPad ran out of juice. Since then, I purchased a redundant backup power supply.
If you’re working remotely, here are some job boards that offer writing jobs done away from an office:
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice, a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Against All Odds, Summer 2020.