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The Value of Airplane Mode

Updated: Apr 5, 2020

From daily digital disruption to a daily digital detox …

The disruption I am referring to is not the innovative disruption often referred to when talking about technology like a phone, laptop or computer. Don’t get me wrong they are capable of that but what I am referring to is how much it can disrupt you.

Our devices are our short cuts, our connectors to the outside world, our go-to’s. The purpose of laptops and cell phones are to have access to them on the go, wherever you are. More significantly is that everyone else also has access to you, wherever you are!

I remember how the infamous red light from a Blackberry used to give me anxiety as I MUST open “it” now. Whilst this was initially a very efficient way of notifying you that there is something in your inbox … it very quickly turned into a counter-productive way of always having something else, other than what needs to be focussed on, to do. With the upgrade to a newer smartphone … despite the red light no longer featuring - nothing changed.

Connectivity creates false urgency. You don’t know what someone wants to talk about when they call, the context of a mail before you read it - not to mention Messenger, WhatsApp and all other types are what I would like to call 'intrusive methods of communication'.

Interestingly, a 2017 study in The Journal of the Association of Consumer Research found that the mere presence of your phone — even if it’s powered off, and even if you’re actively and successfully ignoring it — “reduces available cognitive capacity,” which the study’s authors call “brain drain.”

We commonly utilise the Eisenhower decision matrix to set up our days. It assists with distinguishing between urgent and important tasks to make progress. I realised that the exercise, now just a way of work for us, is futile if you are allowing your technology to disrupt you. Particularly if you are busy with blue sky or strategy type work additionally anything that requires absolute focus. And let’s not kid ourselves how much work does not require focus?

An accidental airplane mode on a random Wednesday which led to the most productive day I had had in months forced me to review my ways. I now exercise a daily digital detox, in essence a “time-out” where you are unencumbered by a digital device. I found my thoughts flow easily, I have nothing distracting me and truly have productive output. The biggest roadblock to your productivity could be your digital device ... give the daily detox a try.


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