Public Service Announcement: Back Up Your Stuff

Nov 13, 2013

I usually try to spare you the details of my personal life. I mean, this is a PROFESSIONAL website, for crying out loud. This is my JOB. It’s not like I sit around showing off pictures of my kids or my re-organized computer cords or . . . whoops.

Well, what fun would it be if I were just another boring blogger teaching you to manipulate Google Tasks? When I have personal moments on my quest for Togetherness that I think could help you, I try to share them. You know, like my travel adventures.

Seriously though, last week, while walking from a DC Metro stop to one of my favorite schools, I got robbed on the street at 8:30 AM. I’ll save you the sob story, and yes, I’m physically fine (though rattled, I’m not going to lie), thanks for asking. . . But they took my STUFF.

Since I travel all over the country, my office is my backpack. And so my backpack had in it: my beloved Lenovo laptop, my iPhone 5, my Flip video camera I use for amateur filmmaking, my Kindle, my iPod, my wallet, all credit cards, my ID, my favorite leak-proof coffee mug, and my lunch. Every single thing gone!

Hope they like hard-boiled eggs! And my Taylor Swift playlist!

Why am I inviting you to my pity party? To send a key public service announcement. You can learn from my successes and mistakes! Long story short: BACK UP YOUR STUFF.

Here’s what I had going for me:

1. Dropbox and an Exchange Server.
I switch between a few machines and I share stuff with a lot of different people. Every single document, photo and video minus ONE loose file on my desktop (which incidentally was the first chapter of The Together Leader. . . whoops. . . don’t tell my editor) was backed up on Dropbox. Other than that, I didn’t lose one single file. I even carried on and trained 75 teachers the following morning with only minor interruptions in service. And my Exchange Server ensured Outlook was totally up and running.

2. Emergency Household Sheet.
And it was current. The “If I Croak Sheet,” as my friend Matt calls it, is saved in a special and secret location. I had access to all of my bank phone numbers. Account numbers were locked in a file, so I could quickly call and cancel everything.

3. A To-Do Plan.
I’m human. I was scared. And I definitely burst into tears when I arrived at the school shortly after. But then I had no choice but to get it Together. When meeting with the police to file a report, I had nothing to take notes. I borrowed one piece of paper and a pen, and made four lists: stuff that still must get done that day, stuff I could delay, stuff I needed to replace, and reference notes (like the case number, etc.). See, here’s a picture! It almost makes me want to quit everything digital.

Here’s what I could have done better (the sad part is I KNEW to do all of this stuff; I just hadn’t made the time):

1. iPhone photos not backed up.
I’m not much of a Mac gal (minus playing around on my iPad reading recipes). I lost a lot of pictures simply because I didn’t have the iCloud function active. Doh!  Do yourself a favor and turn on that iCloud thing.

2. Hard copy files lost.
I take a lot of notes during trainings and use them to make the next workshops better. My entire file of 100 workshop reflection sheets were in my backpack, as I had just returned from a trip the night before. Gone. Forever. Note to self: Scan, scan, scan! If you don’t have a scanner, take pictures.

3. Too much stuff in my wallet.
Because I move around to so many different locations, I hate unpacking and repacking bags. It’s the last thing I want to think about when running to catch a plane or take my 8-month-old to the doctor. When I had my bag stolen ten years ago in Times Square, I SWORE to just carry one credit card in my wallet. Somehow I started breaking that rule and every single credit and debit card I possessed—both personally and for the business—was on me. As well as every single one my health insurance cards for my family. Ugh. Back to the rules!

In the meantime, if you need to find me, I’ll be at Best Buy with the GeekSquad, figuring out what the heck this Windows 8 thing is on my new laptop, or hanging with the fun folks at the Maryland Department of Motor Vehicles trying to explain why I had waited five months to exchange my New York driver’s license, which umm… no longer exists. Do you think I’ll have to go back to New York, get a new license, and then exchange it in Maryland? Or (gasp), take a road test?!?