We have heard about ‘airplane mode’ hack for productivity. The internet is full of advice about leaving our devices in airplane mode, time-boxing tasks, and leaving devices in a different space away from the desk. Airplane mode is called a hack today. Is it really a hack?

If we go back to our early years, the concept of airplane mode was common and helped us build meaningful life. Let’s break this down. 

How did we study for exams or learn a new hobby as kids? Our parents encouraged and sometimes disciplined us to find a silent space, and time-box study time, without any entertainment and no access to friends. This was no different than the ‘airplane mode’ hack. 

In this article, we will understand the value of ‘airplane mode’ for learning and how to adapt it with actionable takeaways. 

In the past 6 weeks, I traveled on two long-haul and multiple domestic flights to visit family back home in India. I experienced the ‘real’ airplane mode frequently, which made me anxious. Even with multiple books on my kindle, naps, and excitement to meet family, the lack of connection with the virtual world had me feeling like I was missing out. Why? 

Our hustle and quick-to-response culture has been celebrated over the thoughtfulness and leisure of our responses. I assumed my interviews and job opportunities would be negatively impacted if I didn’t respond to emails in two hours. Considering the timezone, I was expecting myself to respond to emails after midnight. 

How is this relevant to our learning? I believe we exhibit similar hustle-like behavior as we build on our skills. We prioritize the outputs and outcomes instead of focusing on the journey. 

How do we create an ‘airplane mode’ for our learning experiences? There are three common themes to adapt:

1. Space

In an airplane, all passengers are on the same journey. While the journey is uncomfortable, we tend to get things done, watch movies and make the best of the experience. In our learning journey, we must build spaces that help us zone in. Learning spaces build comfort, drive inspiration and motivate us to focus on the task. 

2. Environment

To focus on learning, our devices, and other distractions should be in the ‘dangerzone. Just like an airplane, we do not switch on our devices until we land, our ‘danger’ zone should be fenced until further notice. For example, a corner table could be a danger zone with your phone, PS4, and anything else you consider distracting.

3. Conditioning

Travel debunks the value of our hustle culture. The pending emails, text messages, or social media reels have conditioned us to believe that they are high priority. While they might be important, our learning experiences, health, and leisure are as valuable. We need to condition ourselves to prioritize the right things and let the other ones wait. 

It’s time to debunk hustle and instant responsiveness and build an airplane mode to prioritize learning and our well-being. 

Unlearning Thought

Build habits that work for you and leave the hacks to the internet.