First 30 Days Blog

27 mar

Protecting My Most Valuable Possession: A Freelancer’s Story

JennaSmithI’m a freelance copy writer. Every day, I write copy for multiple clients, describing everything from algebra problems to North African food. And every day, I make sure my most valuable possession is ready to work alongside me: my laptop computer.

The original freelancers were knights; literally “free lances” who hired themselves out to multiple kings or lords. Their faithful companions were their mighty steeds, the beloved horses who needed to work just as hard as the freelance knight, or both risked losing their jobs.

My “beloved horse” is a MacBook Air, and it goes with me wherever I go — on buses, on planes, to co-working spaces and coffee shops. Every day I give it a little extra love to make sure it’s going to be ready to handle the tasks I set before it. (Like many workers, I spend about 10 hours a day working on my computer. I type so much that my last laptop died when I literally wore out the keyboard.)

Here are a few of the ways I make sure my faithful steed is always in good health and ready to go:

1. Never eat (or drink) over the laptop

My AppleCare covers a lot of things, but it isn’t particularly generous towards water spills. Or soup spills. Or tea spills. That means I have to make absolutely sure that no liquid ever touches my laptop.

In this case, it means I eat adjacent to my computer, not over it. I also finish my meal without touching the laptop. I’ll put on some Netflix episode and fullscreen the display to prevent the urge to reach over and check my email.

2. Clean out the keyboard regularly

This is less of an issue with my MacBook Air than it was with my previous laptop. The keyboard design meant that a lot of dust, dirt, and cat hair regularly got caught up between the keys. I made sure to do the compressed air trick weekly, and every six months I’d remove all of the keys and clean out anything the can of air missed.

3. Avoid viruses, malware, and other threats

When I was in graduate school, I downloaded one bad file. That was all it took. Within five minutes, my computer was completely out of my control. Popups filled the screen, and I was not able to use my mouse or keyboard to change any of the settings. By the next day, my hard drive was completely destroyed. I took it to a repair shop, but ended up having to buy a new laptop.

Now I invest in every security measure possible to keep my computer — and my information — safe. The team at Trend Micro notes how viruses have changed in the past decade, and users now need online security software to protect their privacy on social networks as much as anywhere else. If my email or my social networks got hacked, it would threaten my reputation with my friends and clients. If I lost another computer to a virus, I would lose my livelihood.

So yes, I’ll do everything it takes to keep my computer safe.

4. Use the battery in full

I didn’t know this trick until a Mac rep told me. You need to let the battery drain completely before recharging. If you keep your laptop plugged in even when your battery is fully charged, instead of unplugging it and using the battery until it’s drained, it’s like trying to give your horse more food when it’s already full. Eventually, your horse is going to get sick and your laptop battery is going to stop working.

If you’re a freelancer and you, too, have a faithful steed, follow these steps to make sure your most prized possession stays in good health. You depend on your computer for every part of your career, so you need to do everything you can to protect it.

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Posted by Jenna Smith on March 27th, 2014 in Career, Personal Stories | 0 comments

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