Five ways to stay productive during a power outage

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True story:

Last week I had a GoToMeeting client call at 9am, but I had a dentist appointment at 8am. No worries, right?

But my dentist was running 40 minutes late, so I was 14 minutes late to my 9am meeting. As soon as I got home I emailed him that I was ready for the call. The instant, and I mean *the* instant I saw the meeting email, we lost all power at my house. It flickered once and nothing for the next hour and a half.

I can’t make this stuff up, folks. I emailed my client from my phone to profusely apologize for the inconvenience…and then I had no idea what to do.

I had quite a bit of work I’d planned on accomplishing that day, and I had no idea when the power would come back on. (I wound up taking a nap, but I admit that isn’t the most productive plan I could’ve come up with.)

So what can a designer do without power? Light a candle (if need be), use your phone to alert your clients of your situation, and try one of these:

#1 Sketch project ideas

Even if you don’t have all the project details, sketch out some ideas for a project you just started. Wireframe a website, doodle logo ideas, or lay out a poster.

Sketching allows you to get all of your “okay” ideas out so that you can explore the great ones.

#2 Clean your office

While you can’t vacuum, dusting, organizing, and filing can all be done without power. Tackle that stack of paper that you’ve been meaning to get to for three weeks or organize the desk drawer you can barely get open.

A clean office makes walking into it each morning that much more appealing.

#3 Make a marketing plan

Figure out your plan of attack for the next month (quarter?). What topics do you want to focus on? How are you going to use social media to reach your audience? How often are you going to publish and where?

If you can’t do any client work, work on your own business to secure your future.

#4 Create something amazing

Put together a puzzle. Free draw. Play with playdough or clay. Paint. Play dress-up with your kids. Take a walk with your dogs and really look at all the varied plant types along your way.

Use your brain in a creative way today to rejuvenate your creativity when the power comes back on.

#5 Take care of yourself

Do yoga. Sleep. Exercise. Cut up fruits and vegetables for lunch since you can’t just microwave leftover pizza. Read a book or magazine. Take a walk with your better half. Take your kids out for ice cream (assuming your entire community isn’t out).

When your body feels refreshed, your brain can work at it’s maximum capacity on your projects instead of fighting off distractions.

Final thoughts

With super-storms blasting the globe (and doing a lot more than just knocking out the power), the season of construction upon us, and just plain ol’ equipment failures, you might find yourself without power, possibly for a long period of time.

Use your time wisely to ensure you’re eager and willing when the power turns back on.

Now it’s your turn…

Have you ever had the power go out at an inopportune moment? What have you done to effectively pass the time? Share your stories with us in the comments on this post.

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About April Greer

April is the content manager here at She’s also a go-to freelance designer with a rare combination of creative expertise and technical savvy. April is available for subcontracting and speaking engagements – visit Greer Genius for more information.


  • Eileen Lonergan

    You made me laugh out loud. I live in the Northeast and have lost power with every storm outage over the past two years! I agree, taking a break is the best idea. While out for 5 days this past winter I was getting a little nutty though – a charged iPad and laptop was a good backup plan. Keeping perspective is the best way to go :)

    • April Greer


      Glad to entertain! Sometimes I think a power outage is Mother Nature’s way of telling me to get out from behind a computer screen.

      Thanks for sharing!

  • Doug

    Just YESTERDAY I was without power for about four hours. The power company did have an estimate for when the power would be restored. (Which was reasonably accurate.) I use CrashPlan to backup my files on the Cloud. So after a half hour of feeling sorry for myself, I downloaded some stuff I could work on to my laptop, and headed out for lunch, then worked off-site for a bit. It was certainly not my most productive time, but at least I was able to maintain some client contact, and keep things moving.

    • April Greer


      Sometimes – especially during a busy week – hitting the nearest coffee shop with free wifi and an excellent brew is the best solution.

      Thanks for sharing!

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  • dave c

    We got a ups for our cable modem and router.When the power goes out, the laptop stays online. Easy $100 solution.

    • April Greer

      Dave, an UPS is on my list of things for my office. (I chose the CS6 upgrade first.) Do you have one you recommend?

  • Jamie Hartshorn

    We live out in the sticks and finally bought a generator…no problems!

    • April Greer


      Hmm, a generator seems a little bit excessive for my personal situation, but it sounds like a great solution for you.

      Thanks for sharing!

  • Alek

    …or you can just buy an UPS which really should be a part of your regular setup anyway.
    Just my 2 cents.. :)

    • April Greer


      Does an UPS last for 2 weeks? Which one do you recommend?

  • Alfred Ingram

    An uninterruptible power supply, a laptop fully charged for emergencies, your dsl or cable was likely still up and you could have gone to meeting with your client. I have even when the power was out. As long as the lines not physically damaged.

    • April Greer


      Which UPS do you prefer? Does your UPS last for days? Weeks?

  • Ezgi

    Here is my solution; Run to the local library and work there :) i do this when there is any prob in my office. The only prob is answering phone calls :)..

    • April Greer


      The local library is a great spot to run – unfortunately it was a ‘now or not at all’ sort of situation. Do they have study rooms or media rooms where you could work and answer the phone?

      Thanks for sharing!

  • Diane Long

    It’s good to have supplies on hand for times like this. Catch up on reading, write notes in birthday cards coming up. I have a small portable generator. Good for keeping a light on, phone charged and coffee flowing

    • April Greer


      Luckily we have a gas fireplace, so we have a source of heat and light if need be.

      Thanks for sharing!

  • Joe

    I think this list is great even if you still have power and have some downtime between projects and billable hours!

    • April Greer

      Joe – you’re so right! Thanks for the reminder!!!

  • Amanda Fleming

    Wow! These are indeed great tips and ideas! We can’t deny the fact that most of us get pissed off when there is a power outage especially if we still have tons and tons to do with our computer. But I think, this article really rocks! Indeed, we could still be productive enough even during power outage. This is awesome! Thanks for sharing!

    • April Greer

      Thanks, Amanda! Sometimes it’s a nice reminder that we don’t have to spend our entire lives in front of a monitor. :)

  • Ftc Marketing

    Hehe ☺ there is always a brighter side to look at! You have done a good job here. Keep spreading optimism around!

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