The internet is a new invention — relatively speaking — but going without it sure feels like a return to prehistoric times. Even without an always-on internet connection, work must get done. Whether due to a power outage, a digital detox, weak in-flight Wi-Fi, or a truly remote location, working without internet service requires a little creativity to keep your productivity high.
Whatever the reason you’ll be offline during work hours, here’s how to prepare for it:
1. Figure Out What You Can and Can’t Do Offline.
If you’re scheduling disconnected times of your day, you must decide what you can do while disconnected.
Start by eliminating anything that takes an internet connection. Videoconferencing, collaborating in Google Docs, making online payments, and more are out of the question.
With that said, there’s still a lot you can do while disconnected. Writing a proposal, organizing documents on your desktop, or thinking through a presentation? Those are things you can do offline.
2. Organize Your Worklist Based on Importance.
Chances are, you have a mix of big and small projects with near or far deadlines. Figure out which ones you tackle in what order before you go offline.
Put together an Eisenhower Matrix. Projects that are both essential and urgent sit on top; they get done first. Once all urgently essential things are done, you can move onto the non-urgent but still important tasks.
Even though there are two more sections (not essential but urgent, and neither important nor urgent) on the Eisenhower Matrix, you shouldn’t add those to your offline workload. Focus on the top two tiers of the tool while you have deep work time.
Have some reading materials ready and uploaded that you can do while you’re offline. For example, you can have all of the information ready that you’ve wanted to read (like ideas on how to grow your business) or a couple of articles on time management. Have the articles you want to read pulled up on your computer — or copy them off — beforehand.
3. Optimize Your Offline Time.
Time, not money, is your most valuable resource. It’s non-renewable: You can’t replenish it in any way once it’s used.
Go one step further with the Eisenhower Matrix by numbering tasks within those top two tiers. Have a big, lousy deadline you need to meet while offline? Throw it to the top of the list. Keep a written list of your goals and cross them off as you finish them.
Think about your environment, too. Might wearing noise-canceling headphones help you focus? Bring them along. If you’re most productive with instrumental music playing in the background, go ahead and download some for offline playback.
4. Gather What You Need.
Offline work doesn’t necessarily need to be tech-free work, but it does mean you can only work on what’s on your local disk.
Think through whether you might need to pull documents from your cloud storage system. Ask employees to email you materials that might be trapped in their inbox.
When in doubt, overdo it: Pull every document you might need for an offline project. If you’re without internet access for longer than expected, you’ll be glad you did.
5. Choose Your Space Ahead of Time.
Working from the top of a mountain might sound great in theory, but the reality might not be so rosy. Where will you sit? What will you do when your laptop needs to be charged? What if an unexpected storm blows in?
It’s hard to focus on your job when you’re uncomfortable or have to keep shifting locations. If you’re traveling while working, bring a support pillow to keep your neck rested. Make sure you’re getting enough natural sunlight; don’t lock yourself in a “tomb.” When your workplace isn’t tidy and supportive, it becomes a distraction.
6. Warn the People You Work With.
When you’re used to working with internet access, you expect to be accessible at any time. But if you’re offline, reaching you isn’t as simple as sending off an email or Slack.
Give a heads up to the members of your team. If you work with clients, be sure they know you’ll be unavailable. If at all possible, give at least 48 hours’ warning so that people have time to share last-minute questions and comments.
In today’s world, disconnected time is quite rare. Even between meetings you are usually on WiFi on your phone. While you’re offline you can answer many emails. When you’re online all the time, there’s many distractions, and it’s tough to focus on the work. Occasionally being offline can be very productive if you plan ahead.
When you do get offline time, take advantage of it. Prepare well, set your sights on specific projects, and get done as much as you can.