Six (Productive) Things to Do When the Internet is Down

Grrr. Once again I’ve opened my browser to discover our internet service is down. After 25 minutes of pressing this and resetting that, our technician notices our issue stems from another relay site. It has nothing to do with our connections. Ugh.

For seven years we have had free service (we let the server install a dish on our roof) so it’s indulgent to complain. Still. It’s frustrating. I find myself opening Facebook again and again. It is in these down times when I have an insatiable desire to play Bejeweled. And I click Get Mail, Get Mail, Get Mail, somehow hoping that our problem has been solved in the 30 seconds since the last time I checked.

So what if I turned this around and tried to see it as a positive, an opportunity as you optimists would suggest? Certainly there are things I could be doing during this down time, things I avoid as I surf the sweet spot of connectivity. Here are a few ways to be productive sans wire:

1. Write something.

Oh yes, I have a loosely assigned travel article I’ve been avoiding and two short newsletter pieces I’m not that excited about. I’m always most productive when I close my MacBook, grab my clipboard and yellow lined tablet and start scribbling notes and questions. That project I’ve been wrestling with suddenly comes to light and I find the structure that’s been evading me.

2. Create something.

No connection means no research, no fact checking, no bunny trail surfing. Why not take this time to simply create? Open Scrivener (a killer writer’s tool you need if you don’t have it), add a draft and write. I’m wanting to improve my creative skill but it requires focused imagination. With no email beckoning, now would be a good time to let my imagination run wild and write my SFD (shi&^%y first draft) of something, anything.

3. Cull the partial project file.

I’m always amazed at the projects I’ve started and abandoned. Exercises I wrote with no intention of publication, ideas that never went further than the fifth paragraph and a few favorites that editors didn’t love. In my down time, I’ve discovered a few gems. I’ve even wondered who wrote them. Others make me cringe. But in my disconnected state, I might find a new life for an old piece. In the absence of distraction, I have time to noodle with an alternate perspective or perform the edit it deserves, only to rediscover my brilliance (or at least my enthusiasm for the piece).

4. Tidy files.

I’ve got a loose system for keeping files organized but I get lazy in the busy-ness of daily work. This down time is perfect for opening my Finder and rethinking my system or simply cleaning house.

5. Make new Playlists.

Seriously. I get tired of my music. On my last airplane trip, I spent my battery power creating new lists according to mood: calm, riding, inspirational, upbeat. It made me want to listen again and I even discovered songs I’d forgotten.

6. Study theme lists and editorial calendars.

In my research I’ve printed countless publication theme lists and calendars. Inevitably, they sit in my “review” box until forever. I can take this time to check them over and trigger new ideas for queries and blog posts.

So now I’m thinking I owe my service a thank you note. Who knew the dark ages could be so productive? I’m now tempted to find a coffee shop with no service—on purpose.

What would you recommend as the most productive down time activity?

2 thoughts on “Six (Productive) Things to Do When the Internet is Down

  1. Amber Galusha says:

    Well, I just went on a hike with my camera and took shot after shot of moss, water and leaves. It was a nice break from writing. After my trek, I felt revived, energized and ready to write a blog post. Thanks for the fresh ideas!

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