How to Stay Productive When the Internet Is Down

The Internet went down this morning at the home office. If I were in a deadline situation, I would have packed the laptop into the car and headed for the nearest caffeinated wifi hot spot. But I was under no pressure this morning and had hope the Internet downtime would be brief.

Under these circumstances, this is how I stay productive when the Internet is down:

Plan what to do when Internet is back up.

Sooner or later I can get back to work. So pull out the pen and paper (my task manager is in the cloud) and outline what I need to do later. This way I have a plan for what needs to be done when I’m ready.

Catch up on podcasts.

My iPod is packed with audio that I listen to when away from my computer. It includes everything from news shows to the official Toastmasters Podcast. Since I’m an optimist, I’m starting with the short ones. The internet shouldn’t be down too long.

Spend quality time with the family.

I get through one episode of Wall Street Journal on Small Business when I hear the family having fun downstairs. I know I’m supposed to show some discipline.

Screw it.

Time to come out of the freelancer cave and enjoy their company. This makes everyone happier when I have to get back to work.

Write offline.

After catching up with my loved ones, I’m still in the mood to write. So I keep the words flowing while the Internet can’t distract me. This blog entry is starting out as a list written long hand on a legal pad. This down time isn’t going to totally kill my productivity.

Make my phone calls.

Oh, yeah…this is what we did before e-mail was invented. I actually can use a cell phone to talk to people. These calls are on my schedule for later when I usually get sick of looking at a computer monitor. So let’s get them out of the way.

Read a book.

Now I’m really going retro.

I’m about to put down my pen and pick up a dead-tree version of Where Cool Waters Flow. I keep it handy for times when my cell phone or iPod is charging. You would think I would pick a business book about the Internet or changing the color of parachutes. But the subject is close to my heart and I actually am finding a way to relate it to business.

So when your Internet is down, what do you do to stay productive?

Carl Natale is a freelance blogger who writes about tips and advice for small businesses. He runs the site - a site about how top brands set their prices.


  1. Alison Rowan on the 18th August

    I find that depending on your field of work, having the biggest distraction gone beyond your control can be a massive boost to productivity! Since my work involves locking myself into Adobe Illustrator, I’m among that group. When the internet goes down, that’s my cue for uninterrupted work time.

    I think it’s also worth pointing out that you can reply to all your emails during the outage, and let them stampede from your outbox when the internet returns! It’s a great chance to finally catch up with your inbox, because new messages won’t be flooding in while you’re trying to deal with old ones.

  2. Jonathan K on the 18th August

    Install MAMP! I’ve done work while on road trips and wifi-less flights. It’s a great way to build slightly more advanced websites without access to the net.

    I also periodically download what blogs like this call “the next big open-source thing” and play around with them when off the grid. While I haven’t been blogging for a while, experimenting with things like Sass or MongoDB would make for great research.

  3. Hi,

    When the internet is down (which does happen occasional), I read the newspaperS, catch up on offline things that I have to do, spend time with family etc.

  4. Hi,

    When the internet is down (which does happen occasional), I read the newspaperS, catch up on offline things that I have to do, spend time with family etc.


  5. Shweta on the 19th August

    I just love your blog… the posts are amazing… and are really really helpful for freelancers like me 🙂


  6. Gabriele Maidecchi on the 19th August

    Unfortunately the main task I find myself performing in case Internet goes down is finding new things to do, then suddenly stopping a second to think those things require Internet as well… kinda sad

  7. Melanie Brooks on the 19th August

    I clean and organize. It would be great if the internet would go down today…my office is a mess….

  8. Bret Juliano on the 19th August

    That’s usually the best time for me to do code without distractions or catch up on some new writing, less distractions this way.

  9. S Emerson on the 19th August

    Clean up your desk! Put all that stuff in the to be filed away where it belongs.

    Catch up reading the two magazines I subscribe to. (Yes, there is still such a thing as receiving a magazine in the mail)

    Loaded up my ebook reader recently so that’s a backup plan for internet downtime or time waiting at an appointment.

    Go watch a bit of TV, if the cable still works.

    Write (with pen and paper) ideas for future blog posts.

    “my task manager is in the cloud”
    This is one reason I keep everything on my own computer. Having things on the net through different services is handy when “on the road” but as demonstrated by this post, they aren’t much good when you don’t have internet access.

  10. dan howard on the 22nd August

    I tend to cook. I can make two or three meals, and freeze them. saves time later on!!!

    that, or i’ll have a swim, check my post box, go for a walk, or just relax. maybe brainstorm some new ideas, or go and get a few local papers and go through looking at the adverts taking details down of ones which I feel I cold improve!

  11. Freelance FactFile on the 23rd August

    Yes, I catch up on stuff in my reading pile or write blog posts out in long hand. And tidying up is one thing that always gets done when there’s no internet.

    The thing I really find hard to handle is when there’s a power cut. Especially in the winter when it gets dark at 4pm. And I can’t even make a cup of tea because my cooker is electric. It’s usually a case of going to a cafe that’s not that nearby because, chances are, all the nearby ones also have a power cut.

  12. robotplague on the 23rd August

    I love deleting old files and organizing folders when there’s no internet. Sometime I *wish* it would go down so I can get organized 🙂

  13. independentclause on the 24th August

    Do all the business-related crap that piles up when I have the internet to distract me. In fact, I’m so productive when the internet is down, I might have to crash it on purpose!

  14. Dene on the 20th September

    I find prevention is better then a cure. Copies of my email are kept on the hard drive via Thunderbird and important data such as to-do’s and client data is kept in sync using Dropbox.

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