One of my ongoing standards is to be 100% work-functional wherever I am. I define work-functional as the ability to get any work done that I could normally get done while sitting down at my office. A lot of people out there think they’re functionally mobile when they really aren’t, as you’re about to see.
If you have a smartphone like an iPhone or Android, you’re probably at least 50% there already. If your office is more or less paperless and if you’re really, really good at your smartphone (and most people aren’t), you may be 90% or even 100% there. The same is true if you carry around an iPad or Android tablet.
I’m an Android guy, and I use the Droid X phone with the massive screen. That way, my phone is as computer-like as I can get it. I love my Droid X and I’d marry it if I could. However there are still some key work tasks that my phone either can’t do, or can do but in a very cumbersome manner. That means to be truly 100% work-functional I need my laptop, and you probably do too.
That doesn’t mean I carry my laptop everywhere I go. If I’m going out to run some quick errands, or if I’m heading out to a single client appointment and I know I’m going straight home after that and traffic won’t be an issue when I’m done, then I’ll leave my laptop home with LogMeIn active so I can access it easily if I need to while I’m away.
However! If I’m leaving my house “for the day”, or there’s even a tiny possibility whatsoever that my appointment may last longer than I think, or that I may get stuck somewhere, or may have to end up waiting for someone, or traffic will be an issue, or I’ll be sitting on a train or a plane, or whatever, then I quickly disconnect my laptop from my monitor and toss it into my ready-to-go laptop bag. That way no matter what happens, no matter how badly my schedule gets screwed up, I’m able to work wherever I am.
Or am I?
How many times have I seen people with laptops in mobile situations scream bloody murder when they couldn’t connect to the internet? All the time.
How many times have I seen people with laptops in mobile situations scream bloody murder when their battery is dying and they can’t find an easy way to plug in anywhere? Again, all the time. Have you ever seen these poor folks at the airport looking for plugs? It’s hilarious.
So to be 100% work-functional no matter where you are, not only do you need to have your laptop with you, you need to make sure you can A) easily and quickly connect to the internet no matter where you are, and B) have plenty of power, as in more than you think you’ll need.
The easiest solution for mobile internet is to set up your smartphone as either a mobile hotspot or tether it with a USB cable. (“Tether” means to use your phone’s internet connection as your laptop’s access to the internet.) Both of these solutions get a little technical and are beyond the scope of this blog post, but they’re both relatively easy to set up, and it’s usually free.
I tether my phone. So no matter where I am, while everyone else are cussing about how they can’t connect to whatever wireless internet is available, I just plug my phone into my laptop, and boom, I’m on the internet. It works wherever I can get a cell phone signal, which is just about anywhere. Extra benefit: My laptop charges my smartphone while I’m surfing. How cool is that? (That’s one of the reasons why I prefer tethering to hotspotting. Tethering also tends to be more stable and secure.)
There is an easy solution to this and I’m shocked that I don’t see more people doing it.
Many years ago, when I made my first 15 hour flight to Asia, I had my laptop ready to go. The plane took off, and I whipped out my laptop and got to work. About two hours later, my battery died. I looked in vain for a plug, but a compatible plug wasn’t available. So for the next 13 hours I sat there like a moron watching the chick flicks they were playing in the cabin.
I resolved that something like that would never happen again. Today, whenever I purchase a new laptop for business use, I purchase an additional two laptop batteries for it. I always keep these extra two charged and in my ready-to-go laptop bag. At about three hours of power each, that means I have nine hours of power no matter where I am. Nine hours is plenty.
I used to be like everyone else and search around for plugs in the wall whenever I wanted to get some work done. Now, I don’t even care. I just operate completely on battery power and if one dies I just swap in a new one and I’m good to go…for many more hours.
Also remember that my laptop, via its battery, can charge my smartphone and my iPod. No matter what the situation, I’ve got power for everything. I’m completely power-autonomous.
My laptop, my phone tether, and nine hours of power. I’m armed and dangerous and extremely productive, regardless of where I am or the situation I find myself in. While everyone else is bored because they have nothing to do, or pulling their hair out because they can’t connect to the internet, or doing yoga moves to contort themselves into Twister-like positions to plug into some inconvenient wall socket somewhere, I’m just quietly working away, getting it all done.
If mobile functionality is important to you, I recommend you do the same.