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This article was published on December 10, 2015

Surviving kernel panic and its sidekick sergeant discomfort

Surviving kernel panic and its sidekick sergeant discomfort Image by: Giphy
Lauren Gilmore
Story by

Lauren Gilmore

Content queen

Dog owner, expat, gin lover. Allegedly wise to the ways of PR, digital marketing and social media. Currently waging a war on mediocrity in c Dog owner, expat, gin lover. Allegedly wise to the ways of PR, digital marketing and social media. Currently waging a war on mediocrity in communication and storytelling. Find me on Twitter or email me.

My Macbook has been my life since I proudly walked out of the Apple store in 2010.

Back then, my yet-to-become tech-savvy self wanted a computer that would simply turn on and work. A computer that did not require me to read its user manual to navigate the start button. A love affair with simplicity.

Last Friday, when I finally made time to update to El Capitan, I knew something was wrong. My fifth kernel panic in two days has confirmed it.

We – okay, I – take for granted how much of my life relies on some form of computer. From social media to communicating with my colleagues, most of my day is spent with smartphone in hand and laptop in face. So when my screen flashed grey and nothing responded, my kernel panic turned into a Lauren panic.


My faithful Macbook has become the sole guardian of my digital life. From precious digital documents to my collection of passwords – everything lives neatly on one hard drive. And yes, I’ll admit it: I’m one of those people who always says “I’ll back it up later.”

Working at TNW, computers are kind of a thing around here. As is productivity. Knowing that if I open a program or app on my laptop will increase the likelihood of another crash, I’ve limited myself to three tabs at a time and nothing that requires too much hard drive space. But how do you stay on track when you have to be delicate?

To save my sanity and keep my colleagues from fearing my panic-stricken wrath, I’ve developed a kernel panic survival guide. I hope you never need it, but if you do, here are my tips and tricks – both on and offline.

Back it freaking up.


If you’re like me and you continually put this off – stop whatever you’re doing and back up your computer. Whether it’s an external hard drive or Time Machine, back it up.

Put it in the Cloud.

My life revolves around Google Drive. All of my articles begin as a Google Doc, so whether I need to finish editing a draft or quickly send something to a client, having the ability to switch from laptop to iPad to iPhone, I can. If you need to tag-team an article with someone, you can easily share a doc with them.

You can also set it to work offline. Meaning I can spend the hour long train ride working on things I need to catch up on… once my computer is up and running again.

Use digital notes to keep track of thoughts

Evernote is an indispensable app that does more than what the name implies. Beyond merely saving notes (audio and text), it also sets reminders, uploads attachments and organizes photos – automatically syncing across your devices. If you jump to and from gadgets often, this is for you.

Delegate what you can.


Even superheroes have sidekicks and you’re no Batman. You simply can’t do it all yourself; and you shouldn’t have to.

Being able to delegate tasks allows you to concentrate on high priority items which is a must when you’ve spent a fair amount of time waiting for your computer to come back to life.

Catch up on things you keep putting off.

How many tasks do you keep promising to get to later? When unexpected time opens up in your calendar, take advantage of it.

This is the perfect time to talk with key stakeholders or have a mini brainstorming session. Getting something – anything – done keeps you feeling productive and gets you back on track faster.

Edit content quickly and simply.

As a writer, content is my bread and butter. When constant interruptions (aka crashes) are slowing down my productivity, Hemingway is a great little tool for editing – which is often the hardest part of writing. It checks your grammar and highlights potential danger zones such as difficult to read sentences, complex phrases and passive voice making it that much easier to finish that article.

Good old pen and paper.

There was a time things worked offline and it’s still possible today. When technology fails, paper and pen can always be counted on. Plus, the tactile feeling and visual stimulation of physically writing something, helps me concentrate and feel accomplished.

Whether it’s a beautiful leather-bound notebook or left over scrap paper, write that shit down. Thoughts, ideas, full sentences… just write.

Though it may feel like the world is coming down around you when your computer decides to crash, there are plenty of ways to recover time and keep your sanity.

What are some techniques and programs you use? Leave a comment while I go back up my computer…

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