Of all the advantages modern life affords most of us lucky people, the opportunity to take our sweet time growing up might be one of the best. Free from the pressure to commit to a career we're unsure about or marry the first person we can tolerate, we get to spend more time discovering our passions, trying new things, and drooling over the latest Twitter outrage than any generation before us. But that's not an excuse to act like an irresponsible fool.
Prolonged adolescence is a blessing and a curse. Who wants to make small talk at a PTA meeting or think about lawn maintenance? At the same time, there are advantages to getting a handle on adult life. Monitoring your bank balance can prevent you from getting hit with a $27 overdraft fee after buying a two-dollar coffee with your debit card. Owning a second set of sheets ensures you can do laundry without having to sleep on a bare mattress. And making copies of your most important documents and photos and backing them up to OneDrive will help you when you run into the inevitable adult-sized headaches life lobs onto unsuspecting overgrown children.
Here's how to avoid relying on your mom to hunt down your birth certificate for you (and other stuff).
Keep Your Important Paperwork Somewhere More Secure Than Under Your Xbox
You know that keeping track of your license and passport is essential. But did you know you sometimes need your Social Security card — not just the number — to do things like prove your tax identity at new jobs, open a bank account, or to prevent getting a replacement driver's license from turning into a Kafkaesque bureaucratic nightmare? If you misplace your Social Security card, you'll need your birth certificate to get a new one. And if you can't find either of those things, say, because you just moved? Neither the Social Security Administration nor any major bank will accept that as an excuse. (Don't ask me how I know, I just do, okay?)
But there's an easy solution that doesn't involve crying on the phone with a government official: use an app like Handyscan to scan all your important identity paperwork, like your license, passport, Social Security card, and birth certificate. Then, save them to a private cloud folder protected with security measures like two-step verification to make sure you're the only one who can access it. You can easily grab the folder from your phone or tablet whenever you need them — like, say, if your bag is stolen along with your license and passport. Streamline the identity process, and save the administrative horror for when you're trying to get someone at your cable company to talk to you.
Don't Upload 80 Pictures of Your Dog to Facebook Just Because You Don't Know Where Else to Keep Them
Where do you keep all of your important photos of important things like babies, graduations, and your parents' adorable elderly dogs? Do you "back them up" by uploading all 300 of them to Facebook, where you'll be ridiculed for oversharing?
Don't save every important photo to a place where your 10th-grade chemistry partner can comment on it. Use an app like Cooliris or Portfolio for OneDrive to upload and organize the photos you want to protect, or use OneDrive's camera back-up system to automatically upload every smartphone picture you take (you'll actually earn an extra 3GB of cloud space just for using it, too). Once your photos are in the cloud, where they'll be safe forever, you can edit and share them any time, send them to your folks with a simple link (instead of explaining over the phone how to open an email attachment…again), and most importantly, you can keep your social media profile clean, lean, and mean — that way, when you do post photos of baby humans or geriatric dogs, they'll make an impact.
Freelancing: There's More to It Than Never Wearing Pants
Hey you, living the freelance dream: congrats! Here's a mochaccino to celebrate, on me. But did you know you have to keep the receipt for every other mochaccino you wrote off as a business expense for six years? Yup, it's true: even after you've filed your taxes and received your refund, you can be audited for up to six years afterward. Don't make yourself vulnerable by only celebrating the amazing parts of freelance life (e.g. a pants-free workplace) while ignoring the financial stuff — scan copies of all your receipts, once a year, for each year's tax deductions, and save them to the cloud. They won't clog up your workspace, and you can scan 'em, sock 'em away, and (hopefully) forget about 'em. Because a key part of adult life is preparing for bad stuff that will probably never happen.
Don't Let a Crashed Computer Ruin Your Day/Life
You may not face an audit anytime soon, but the black screen of death on your computer or phone is an inevitable part of life. We don't know when or how it will happen, only that it will happen, and we're better off if we're prepared in advance. So just back up all your photos, videos, and Office files to OneDrive — where you can not only download them easily to your next computer, but also access them from your phone or tablet in the meantime. That way, you can make sure you're just mourning the death of your computer — not the death of all the information you forgot to back up, as well.
Adulthood is complicated, but the organizational part is easier than it looks. Just back up all the files you care about to OneDrive — you'll feel so responsible and mature, you can give yourself a pass on using that lawn chair as living room furniture for a few more months.
Gabrielle Moss has written mostly funny stuff (but also some serious stuff) for GQ.com, The Hairpin, Nerve, etc. You can follow her here.