Working offline

Travelling in rural areas of Sri Lanka reminds me of the pre-mobile era. Not the pre-Internet era but simply the era when Internet was not in our pockets. Not even 20 years ago we truly had to plan our use of the Internet. I remember reading gaming magazines, making a list of video games I wanted to download for the summer, taking a bus after school to the University where my mum was working, sneaking in the high-speed Internet room with a ZIP hard drive and using very efficiently my time there. I made sur I got my games in under one hour.

Now, I rarely plan my use of the Internet or technology. I jump on it and figure it out as I go. And consequently, I waste a lot time doing so. Working offline is not the analog of working online. Mixing offline and online work is simply a smarter way of doing things. 

Here are a few examples I wanted to write down to remind myself of that:

  • In my years working in e-commerce at l’Oréal, I used to mockup a lot of ideas on paper for my boss. He gave me the idea when I was in his office trying to explain what I had in mind for a product launch. He told me ‘just draw it to me on paper and we’ll start from there’. After that I mocked up Excel spreadsheets, websites, emails, full marketing campaigns, etc. just to get feedback on it.
  • When I wrote a thesis at HEC Montréal, I wasted a lot of time staring at a bank word document. My work started to make more sense when I started taking notes of my readings (books and articles) and playing with them physically (by shuffling them) to see how I could make sense of these principles.
  • In my years doing strategy work at lg2, I quickly realized it was more efficient to use a pen and paper to build the framework for a presentation and get feedback on it before putting any work into Keynote/Powerpoint/Word. You site down on a kitchen table, you write one idea per slide and mock up any visual representation needed, and you play with the order. You spot the gaps in your reasoning and you refine your story. You show it to someone and gather feedback. After that you write it down on the computer.

Working offline is not a worst way of working. Working offline means using your brain. Actively.

Working online means guiding the machine to do what you want to do. But you need to figure out that part first.

p.s. this is what I’m doing right now by writing all of this in a text-only Notes document. I will only publish it when I have access to the Internet. There’s no need in wasting 45 minutes of Facebook when all I wanted to do was write a blog post. That’s why I like working offline.