Thursday, August 9, 2012

Hung Out To Dry By Technology

This weekend my dryer broke down. To be specific, the heating element gave out, meaning that the dryer worked, but only blew cold air, which really doesn't do much toward getting wet laundry dry. The repair man was called and confirmed that yes, it was the heating coil, but it would take a few days to get the part in. Today, he brought the part, only to discover that a fuse had also blown, which is a part that needs to be ordered, so it will be Monday at the soonest before I'll have a working dryer again.

Of course, in the meanwhile, I need to do laundry.

Have you ever had this problem at work? You have a task in front of you and you know exactly how to get it done, but the piece of equipment you need is broken. Or the person who knows what to do is on vacation. There you are, thrown out of routine, and having to find some other way to do this small task that you do all the time and don't even think about it.

For me, the solution was to string up a clothesline in the basement, dig up some clothespins, and hang wet laundry to dry the old school way. I moved our dehumidifier under the wet clothes and my husband added a fan to the set up. So last night, when our elderly cat had an "outside-the-box" moment which called for washing sheets and taking apart the bed at 2 AM, we had something to dry out the sheets and mattress pad on, and they were ready to go back on the bed by the time I got up. It's not the most convenient way to do laundry, but it does bring up nostalgic memories of hanging up the wash with my grandmother in her backyard. (Thankfully, I do not have an open-top 1940's agitator washer that spills on the floor, but I might like that wringer attachment she had!)

The answer here was to go back to how things were done before the convenience of a dryer. So, how can you "go back in time" when your routine is off at work? Here are a few ideas:

  • Binders of information: Preparing actual printouts of needed info to have on hand will get your what you need to do in case the electricity goes out or your computer crashes. Think of all the things you reference on your computer on a daily basis and create a notebook with the emergency points. If it contains sensitive information (passwords, financial information), keep it in a locked drawer.
  • Copy/Print Service Center: If your big proposal needs to be FedExed and your printer dies, it's a good idea to know exactly where the nearest copy center is. 
  • Flash drives/Portable data storage: I carry a flashdrive on my keyring, with pertinent info on it (writing samples, resume, current consulting project) so that at a moment's notice I can provide this information to a potential client. Another great alternative is an online storage site, like Google Documents or to store things that you need instant access to, so you won't be caught empty handed.
Having old-fashioned solutions for technology fails is just good common sense, but as the working world becomes ever more technically integrated, we hardly ever stop and think about "what would I do if...?" 

What's your Plan B when technology fails you?