As a soloist, you rely on the internet for just about everything. So what can you do when you lose your connection? Here are a few ways to stay productive.
Thanks to the 3G network and the NBN, we all have access to a fast, reliable internet connection whenever and wherever we need it.
Ha! I’m kidding, of course.
Hardly a week goes by without some company’s mobile network going on the fritz. And the reason the NBN is so blindingly fast is because only a handful of people seem to be able to get a connection.
Unfortunately, as a soloist you use the internet for pretty much everything you do—communicating with your clients, marketing your businesses, and catching up on the latest celebrity news. (‘City plunged into darkness as Kardashian butt blocks out sun.’)
So how can you stay productive* when you don’t have an internet connection? Well, believe it or not, it is possible. Here are just a few things you can do to stay productive.
Sort out your email
Now before you start yelling, ‘There’s no internet connection, you idiot,’ some people still download their email using programs such as Outlook and Apple Mail.
Want more articles like this? Check out the business productivity section.
Why you ask? Well, some of us started using the internet back in the days of dial-up (known to historians as ‘The Slow Age’), where to access the internet we had to:
- Beg our parents to let us use the phone line
- Connect our computer to a modem, and the modem to a phone line using a special cable
- Use a special ‘dialler’ program to get the modem to dial some magic phone number
- Listen to loud screeching** for ten seconds or so while our computer connected to another modem located … well, somewhere.
- Enter our username and password, swear at the ‘Invalid password’ message, and then try again without Caps Lock on
- Wait for the lights on the modem to start blinking wildly
- Download as much as we could before our parents killed the connection trying to make a phone call.
As you can imagine, staying online for hours scrolling through your messages on Gmail simply wasn’t possible—mainly because Gmail hadn’t been invented yet. So we’d download them all instead, and then read them once we’d disconnected the cables and put them in a box so they could tie themselves in a huge knot.
(Hey, you did ask.)
Anyway, if you have your email stored on your hard drive now’s an ideal time to:
- Delete all the spam
- Read all the newsletters you’ve subscribed to
- Put them all in folders so finding them in future is near on impossible.
And the best thing? If you use the IMAP protocol (which keeps your email in sync on multiple devices), there’s a good chance everything will revert back to the way it was before you started, which will give you the perfect excuse to start drinking.
Learn to appreciate technology again
Of course, losing your internet connection may just be the tip of the iceberg. Your word processor may have just eaten your latest article. Your monitor could be flickering so badly that teenagers are trying to dance around it. And your printer may be spewing out so much paper you don’t know whether to call a technician or an exorcist.
In fact, you may have reached the point where you think technology is incredibly overrated, and you’re ready to turn your back on it completely.
When that happens, you need to remind yourself just how much technology has made your life easier by ‘going analogue’ for a while.
Write your next article using paper and pen (the pointy end works best), using my patented ‘10:10:40’ time method: ten minutes finding a pen that works, ten minutes writing, and 40 minutes clenching your hand repeatedly to get rid of the cramp.
When you finish your article, it’s time to send it off. Unfortunately, even if you happen to have an A4 envelope lying around somewhere you can’t just shove your article inside, write ‘email@example.com’ on it and shove it in a mailbox. You need to:
- Head to the nearest post office (your neighbours may know where it is)
- Find a phone book, and use it to look up the publication’s physical address
- Write the publication’s address on the front of the envelope (and your address on the back) using a pen tied to a desk with three inches of string
- Join the end of the queue (which may be in the next suburb) to buy a stamp
- Peel off the stamp, and then pry it off your finger so you can put it on the envelope
- Search for the posting box, and shove the envelope inside
- Stop by the bottle shop on your way home.
Still, think technology is overrated? Okay, how about if you don’t swing by the bottle shop?
Didn’t think so.
Experience the real world for a while
As a soloist, you’ve worked hard to be able to make a living sitting in front of a screen all day while still wearing your pyjamas. But while you can get a lot of useful information from sites such as Wikipedia and BuzzFeed, nothing beats getting out of the house and finding out for yourself. (You may want to have a shower and get changed first.)
For example, if you followed my earlier advice about ‘going analogue’ you will have learned firsthand what it means to ‘go postal’. You will have also learned to add a pocketknife to your writing arsenal so you can cut the string attached to that damn pen.
It can also help you come up with new ideas for articles, blog posts, ransom notes, etc. A quick walk around the neighbourhood could become a blog post on “Ten reasons I need to move”. By visiting the coffee shops in your area, you could write an article that rates each one’s cappuccinos according to the height and thickness of the foam. (Make sure your editor reimburses you for the coffees so you don’t have to sell your car to pay for them.)
By the time you get back home you’ll have ideas for dozens of articles. And with all that caffeine in your system you’ll be able to churn them all out without stopping. They probably won’t make much sense, but that’s okay. As Hemingway famously said, “The first draft of anything… Hey! I said ‘no sugar’.”
The good news is you’ll be able to sleep eventually. And when you’ll wake up, you’ll have dozens of articles ready to be edited, polished and sent off to your editor.
But not until the internet connection is back up. Because there’s no way you’re ever setting foot in another post office.
What do you do to stay productive when your internet is down?
* Okay, maybe not so much ‘productive’ as ‘busy’. But you certainly won’t be bored.
** These days we get the loud screeching noises from the Top 40 music charts.