I, like everyone millennials, is no longer young, which means it is my duty to remember and share things about the past that would otherwise be forgotten. For example: Most software used to work quite well without an active internet connection.
I know it’s hard to believe. Computers in the 1990s and early 2000s treated “going online” as a new state, but if anything, the opposite is now true. Most software assumes that you are constantly online, and much of it does not work if you are not. This is fine most of the time, but is annoying if you want the work done on a plane or while visiting the family farm.
Some things simply cannot be done offline now, especially if your job involves responding to people in real time. However, most tasks performed on a computer can be at least partially performed offline – if you have things set up to work that way. How to work offline in a world that requires constant connection.
Find out which apps work offline
The first thing to do is find out what tools do and do not depend on the internet. The rule of thumb is that if an app is running in your browser, it is unlikely to work offline.
There are a few exceptions, for sure. E.g, Google Drive can work offline if you are installing a Chrome extension. But for the most part, applications in your browser are designed to work with Internet connections, so you can not 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 applications do not even let you read old messages while you are offline, which means that if there is crucial information buried in a DM somewhere, you will not have access to it.
Finally, any file stored in a cloud service is not available offline unless you sync it to your computer. Some cloud services, such as Dropbox, sync files to your computer by default. Others sync only those files that are in folders specifically marked for offline access. Make sure all the files you need access to are marked for offline synchronization.
If you are not sure if something will work offline, there is a simple 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 good idea of what tools you can and cannot count on.
Copy the information you need
Now that you know which apps are not working 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 an app you know does not work online.
For example, if there are documents you need to read or edit, make sure these documents are downloaded to a folder on your computer. If there is important information stored in a DM conversation with your manager, make sure that the information is copied somewhere locally. I like to use note apps for this, copying all the important information of a project to a page or folder intended for that project. Working offline forces you to be organized: You collect information in advance instead of assuming that you will be able to search for it later.