Working “Offline” While You Travel

Posted June 19, 2012 by Marcy Twete in Life After Five

If you’ve ever traveled for business, you know this scenario well. You power up your laptop somewhere in your travels – a coffee shop, an airport terminal, a street corner you where you found a comfortable seat, and you say a little prayer in your head, “Please let there be WiFi.” Even in the age of airport and airplane Wifi, when you think it will be there and reliable even for an annoying $9.99 per day, it is inevitably broken, missing, or down for the moment. You end up, then, staring at the walls in the airport wishing you could work and feverishly attempting to read files and send PDFs from your Blackberry or iPhone respectively.

You can avoid this entire scenario, though, with just a few minutes of good planning and list making. Check out our tips for working effectively when you’re offline and traveling:

  • Download early, download often. By using a service like DropBox or Goodreader, you can easily download spreadsheets, documents, and PDFs to read offline on either your computer or your iPad/tablet. This will give you an opportunity to review documents without needing to access your email and VPN. If you take a few minutes before your trip or while you’re connected to the internet to save documents for offline viewing, you’ll find you’re in the right spot for working.
  • Make a non-connected to-do list.Prior to leaving, run through your usual to-do list and create a specific list of things to do when you’re not connected. Perhaps you’ve had it on your list for weeks to write an article you’ve been researching or a proposal you’ve been hoping to shop to your superiors. Before you leave, PDF the resources you need to get these projects done and save them on your computer. Use your offline time to work these issues through thoroughly.
  • Take some time for your career. Too often we spend business trips focused entirely on the job at hand. A slight adjustment in attitude might mean that dreaded four hour airport layover with no WiFi is no longer a waste, but an opportunity to enhance your career. Take this time to vision your next year – what do you want to get out of your job, which individuals do you need to reconnect with in your network, and how might you make yourself stand out? Create your year’s plan and promise yourself to put it into practice.
  • Connect without being connected. We’re all so buried in email, we often forget to send the most important emails in the business world – the ones that ask for nothing. There are certainly people in your network who you’ve been “meaning to reach out to” or “should really get together with” – all of those things we say when we run into each other on the street. Pull up an open Word document and spend your unplugged time writing those emails – Dear Frannie….. Don’t ask for a favor, don’t pimp your new project. Just connect, like a friend with a pen and paper. And commit that when you get reconnected, you’ll spend 10 minutes copying and pasting those emails into your email and sending them. A little connection will go a long way, and a time with no WiFi is the perfect time to write those pesky emails you always forget to send.
  • Call your grandmother. I’m serious. You’re bored, you’re in what is likely a semi-quiet place. Think of some people you haven’t talked to in a while, who you should connect with, and get on the phone. It will be worth your time.

So whether you’re productive for work or for personal tasks, you’ll be able to enhance your productivity in the airport and in between meetings with a little planning, a little attitude adjustment, and a few tools. Happy business traveling.

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."