The 72 Hour Airplane Mode Challenge

Pretty much everyone can agree that every once in a while, you need to plug yourself out and scale back on technology, specifically the internet. Nowadays, any device you possess can connect you to a network, whether it is your phone, PC, Laptop, or anything that can use data or a wi-fi connection. And in a very short time (10-15 years is incredibly short when compared against all of history), we’ve become so accustomed to it that we value it just as much as electricity or even water. I’ve heard of some people who have had to get counseling because they are so addicted to being plugged in.

Because I want to write in blogs for myself (and others) for a living, I know that I rely on being plugged in, at least in some aspect. For the last nine or so months, I have been doing freelance work as well and I need to be plugged in to get prospects and communicate with the individuals who provide assignments for me. I need to be plugged in to run my business (which this eventually will become), I need to be plugged in to do online dating stuff, among other things.

That being said, plugging yourself out is necessary, if anything to prevent overload and overwhelm. And when I mean plug yourself out, I mean putting everything in airplane mode. Put your phone, PC, tablet, anything that has some kind of connection in airplane mode. Starting this Christmas weekend, I will be doing this for 72 whole hours, at least once month. One of my biggest challenges is overwhelm, and being plugged in for too long can definitely contribute to it.

So the purpose of the 72 hour airplane mode challenge is to slow everything down and get back to basics. Now I’m aware this is nothing that others haven’t said. But it cannot be said enough; it is practical (and useful) advice. Nearly every blogger and author in the industry of recovery and improvement argues that you should unplug in some aspect. With that being said, allow me to lay out the rules for the 72 hour airplane mode challenge (72AC for short):

I strongly suggest that before doing the 72AC, you take care of anything that requires you to communicate with others before doing it. So if you have an important call, e-mail or text, or something else that requires your attention, knock it out before starting the 72AC.

-The challenge lasts for 72 hours in a row. So if you start at 8PM Friday, you end at 8PM on Monday.
-During this 72 hour period, your phone will either be in airplane mode, off, or simply do not respond to any notifications you get or use any apps on it that require a network connection. So no calls, texts, social networking, e-mail, online dating apps, etc. Playing music, videos, or video games on your phone is acceptable as long as you are not accessing a network while doing so.
-The same rules apply to your PC/Tablet. Either disconnect your wi-fi adapter, or just do not go online at all. Like with your phone, do not respond to any notifications (other than updating your PC/Tablet).
-Let people important to you (friends, family, people you work with or sell things to) before the 72AC that you will not be available for 72 hours if you think it is necessary.
-Movies, shows, music, podcasts, audio books, and video games that do not require a network connection are acceptable, as long as you are not online when playing, listening to, or watching them. For example, listening to an audiobook or podcast that you have downloaded is okay. Watching a youtube video is not, since you need to be online. Recording a video/podcast stand alone is okay. Live streaming, where people engage you live, is not because, again, you are online.
-You are REQUIRED to be outside of the house for 4-8 hours a day while doing this. The 72AC will not work if you just stay inside the house; you will be too distracted. Going to your job, school, or any other place where you typically are not plugged in does not count towards this time period. Choose a happy place and hang out there and the places around it (but do NOT use their wi-fi!!!), or go to a whole bunch of happy places. Go on a random road trip. Aside from productivity, adventure and exploration also goals of the 72AC.
-If you go to someone else’s house, it is okay if they are online as long as YOU do not go online.
-Preferably, the 72AC should be done when you have time off of your job, school, or any other “obligation” in your life. Any weekend will do pretty much.

The main purpose of the 72AC is to prove to yourself that you can work on things irrespective of a network connection. For example, I have about 40 or so blog posts “on deck” stored in the notes app on my phone (which is still a “legal” app to use on your phone during the 72AC). During my 72AC, do you think I’ll begin writing those? What do you think the answer is going to be? There are a few youtube videos and podcasts I’ve been meaning to record. Do you think I’d be able to do these when I am plugged out of everything? What do you think?

Another thing about the 72AC is that the more you can resist plugging in without turning everything off, the better. Turning everything off for 72 hours, while very productive, is cheap. You should be able to get online, do whatever you have to do, then get the hell out of there before your brain takes you back to high school. This should not take any more than an hour. The same goes for any other kind of notifications. If you can be able to access social media or blogs without degenerating into screwing around, it will make you much more productive. This is a very useful skill that I am learning. Starting in 2018, I will be writing at length about it.

The 72AC is something that you should do every month. Just pick a three day stretch, unplug from everything, don’t worry about work or school (this will NOT work if your obligations require you to be on-call, and that should tell you something), and enjoy things the way they were just 15-20 short years ago for awhile. Maybe you’ll like it and stretch it out to a week. You may even decide to completely stop using some of the apps and websites you’ve been using because of it. Who knows?

For example, I partake in a lot of useless chatter on blogs, youtube, reddit, and facebook (especially facebook and blogs). When I stop doing this during my 72AC, I will be able to be a lot more productive. Wasting time bickering with people you do not know online reveals so much about how we are still trapped in high school. Its one thing that will probably be a theme in the future books I’ll be writing. I certainly have not seen many books that directly and intimately address the new perpetual high school mentality that we have developed.

You should be able to separate productive screentime from unproductive screentime. Unfortunately, not many know how to do this (myself included). The 72 Hour Airplane Mode Challenge will at least get you to clear things up, sharpen up your discipline, and get you one ounce more productive and relaxed.