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Realizing that we have no Internet connection can be one of the small nightmares of modern day life. We feel lost, bored, frustrated, and definitely unproductive unless we’ve prepared for it. I’m not going to lie – there have been times where I’ve been really frustrated when I realized I couldn’t download the doc I needed or get the app loaded…which led to figuring out some ways to make the best use of this time.
Besides looking back a few years and thinking how odd it is that we could live without being connected 24/7, maybe it is time to figure out ways in which you can make the best out of your offline time. Read on to find my suggestions.
Learn Something New
Of course, what you can do offline depends on your surroundings.
Waiting at the post office or on the train is different from being stuck in traffic at the wheel.
If the circumstances allow it, good old reading is the star of offline productive activities. You won’t need a connection to pull out your paper book or turn your Kindle on (hopefully that battery is charged!).
Reading is also likely to be on the list of those things you really wish you could do more, but you seem to never find the time for. We can expand this to learning in general — from books and elsewhere.
According to a McMaster University & UC San Diego-based Coursera course, humans learn in two modes, the focused mode, and the diffuse mode. During a diffuse learning session, your mind may not entirely be in the moment, it will let thoughts room to wander freely, but concepts are still coming at you and being absorbed. Think of those times when you went for a walk and just thought about things in general with no particular aim or considered an idea or issue from many angles without focusing tightly.
Focused mode is what it sounds like – keeping distractions out and working on one thing.
If you can, try to use both modes: actively read or listen to something, and then let your mind explore and absorb.
Cal Newport’s popular book Deep Work introduces an interesting concept. Newport suggests that we should allow ourselves to be bored.
If you think about it, we’re all trying to fill up empty times — in the elevator, waiting for your coffee, waiting for the bus … I bet your first move is pulling out your phone to check your emails, notifications, social media, right?
Try to be bored instead from time to time. It is a developable skill. Be aware of your surroundings and observe things and people around you (even when they are all looking at their phone).
You can even use that time to talk to someone next to you, meet someone new, or learn about where you’re at.
Whatever you do, you will realize that you are no longer desperately trying to be busy and that those few minutes of inactivity are actually better for your brain and productivity than any email you may have read.
Write Something Meaningful
If your Internet is off but your hands are free, this could be the perfect time for writing.
Postcards and letters are my favorites in this case, because they add that old-fashioned personal touch that I know anyone would appreciate.
You don’t have to feel the pressure to write a lot. Consider this: if you wrote a postcard once a week or once every other week, nowadays you would be considered a prolific writer. It is not that much of an effort, but it will help you strengthen your relationships, and possibly even improve your writing skills.
I wrote these suggestions in order to give you a starting point, a few ideas to implement before finding out what works for you.
Ultimately, it is not about writing or reading, but doing any of those offline things you never find the time for, that will really add value to your knowledge or productivity instead of staring at the phone or other distractions.