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How to Work Offline and Still Be Productive


I’m like everyone Millennials, no longer young, means I have a responsibility to remember and share things from the past that would be forgotten. For example: most software works fine without an active internet connection.

I know, it’s hard to believe. Computers in the 1990s and early 2000s saw “going online” as a new state, but now it’s the opposite, if ever. Most software assumes you’re online a lot, and a lot of software won’t work if you’re not. This is fine most of the time, but annoying if you want to get work done on a plane or while visiting a family farm.

Some things simply can’t be done offline right now, especially if your job involves responding to people in real time. However, most work done on a computer can be done at least partially offline – if you’ve set it up to work that way. Here’s how to work offline in a world that assumes a constant connection.

Find out which apps work offline

The first thing to do is figure out which tools are and are not internet-dependent.The rule of thumb is If the app is running in your browser, it may not work offline.

Of course, there are some exceptions. For example, Google Drive can work offline if you have the Chrome extension installed. But for the most part, apps in your browser are designed to use an Internet connection, so you can’t rely on them if you need to work offline.

Another thing to keep in mind is that most communication software, like Slack, cannot send or receive messages while offline. Most of these apps don’t even allow you to read old messages while offline, which means if there’s important information hidden in a DM somewhere, you won’t be able to access it.

Finally, any files stored in the cloud service cannot be accessed offline unless you sync them to your computer. Some cloud services, such as Dropbox, sync files to your computer by default. Others only sync files in folders that are specifically marked for offline access. Make sure all files you need to access are marked for offline sync.

If you’re not sure if something will work offline, there’s an easy test: turn off your computer’s Wi-Fi. I know, it’s scary. But after five minutes of trying to work, you should have a clear idea of ​​which tools you can and cannot rely on.

Copy the information you need

Now that you know which apps won’t work offline, it’s time to plan ahead. What projects can you work on completely offline? What information do you need to work on these projects? Make sure you have all the information you need, especially if some of it is on apps that you know won’t work online.

For example, if you have documents you need to read or edit, make sure to download them to a folder on your computer. If important information is hidden from a DM conversation with a manager, make sure to copy the information somewhere locally. I like to use a note-taking app for this, copying every key piece of information about a project to the page or folder used for that project. Working offline forces you to be organized: you gather information up front, instead of assuming you’ll be able to search for it later.

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