Oh dear, the office network has shut down again for "unscheduled maintenance". Or maybe there's a power cut. Or your PC started giving off a plastic burning smell before the screen went blank. Before you disappear to the pub with a shrug of your shoulders, ask yourself how to stay productive when your routine is unexpectedly interrupted.
Go battery powered
Even a city-wide power cut can't stop your laptop, tablet or smartphone from working. Keep your mobile devices charged up and regularly sync the documents you're working on. That way if your office network goes down, your desktop computer crashes or the power goes off, you can simply switch to your other devices until the problem is fixed.
Keep your documents in sync across all your devices with your chosen cloud service, such as Dropbox, Google Drive or iCloud. Every time you save a document, the cloud syncs the new version to your other devices — as long as they are connected to the internet. You'll only lose your work since your last save.
What if the internet is the problem and you can't sync those docs?
Most of us own at least one mobile device capable of broadband internet access. If your laptop and tablet also have SIM cards and a data allowance, nothing can stop you from carrying on virtually uninterrupted.
Even if your smartphone is the only device with broadband access, it is usually pretty easy to connect your other devices to it via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or cable and share that internet connection. Not all telco providers, however, allow their smartphone data plans to be used as a Wi-Fi hotspot. Plus, different devices will connect and work together in different ways. Prepare in advance so you know how to stay connected when downtime happens. If all else fails, find a nearby coffee shop with free Wi-Fi.
Remember when productivity didn't require power or an internet connection? These days, we're so conditioned to working at a screen and keyboard that it's too easy to put off those manual jobs until later. No one enjoys filing, for example, but it still needs to be done.
Clear the in-tray and handle your correspondence. Return those phone calls written on post-it notes around your desk. Carry out research that doesn't rely on Google (remember books?). Bring forward that meeting now that everyone is suddenly available.
Have a plan
The question of how to stay productive shouldn't even occur if you use to-do lists each day. The question of what to do next doesn't even come up if you merely jump to those tasks on the list that don't rely on your unavailable tech.
Productivity isn't just about tapping on keyboards. In fact, we can often be less productive when we're fully connected, thanks to distractions such as email, social media and real-time news. When those distractions are switched off, you might find you become even more focused on the work that really needs doing, instead of what is simply more fun or easier to do.
So, next time the new guy in IT flicks the wrong switch, it could be your opportunity to get some real work done!
This article represents the views of the author only and not those of American Express.
Jonathan has worked within, and written about, the technology industry for many years. Before going freelance as a writer in 2012, Jonathan had worked for Netregistry (web hosting) and Ninefold (cloud computing). Jonathan has won awards for his articles on online business for Nett Magazine and his over-opinionated blog Atomik Soapbox. He continues to write for Chief Content Officer magazine.