Every now and then I like to make up games. While they’re similar to Dan’s “parlour games”, these games are life and business games. Instead of thought exercises, they’re doing exercises.
- Want to be more productive? Try Workstation Popcorn.
- Want to get uncomfortable? Try Cold Shower Therapy.
- Want more adventure? Try Adventure Roulette.
As well as being fun, games make life more interesting, and serve as challenges with which to test yourself.
This brings me to my latest challenge – a travel- and business-related one.
If you travel with any frequency, plane rides can be one of the biggest wastes of your time. Sitting at the gate, sitting on the plane, killing time with movies you don’t really care about, and the oh-so-subtle arm-rest wrestling match between you and the guy in 14B.
Most people “kill” time and get absolutely nothing done, particularly on long-haul flights, which is an enormous waste of their time.
But, when used correctly, a flight can become one of the most productive times in your week, if you’re well-prepared. Up in the air, you’re freed from the normal incoming distractions of your work desk and, if you’re focused, you can get a whole lot of work done.
The Atlantic Challenge is an attempt to turn that flight times into productive times.
The Atlantic Challenge
The Atlantic Challenge is a challenge to create a new business or income stream while on a flight over the Atlantic Ocean (hence the name).
It assumes you’re flying a standard NYC – London route (which takes about six hours and is exactly what I did just the other day), but any Atlantic flight route will do (as long as you note the distance flown and the time taken).
The rules to the challenge are pretty simple:
- All actual work must be done on the flight.
- You can prepare before hand (in fact this is highly recommended), but you must not get any actual work done prior to flying.
- Computer work must only be done at cruising altitude (when they say you’re allowed to use electronics).
- The work must be completed by the time you exit the plane (the only exception here applies to uploading documents, which you may do post-landing).
The Atlantic Challenge works is because it incorporates several of my favorite principles:
- MVP – The minimum viable product states that you don’t need to create the best product in the world straight away; you just need to create a basic product that’s sellable in order to validate the idea.
- Pareto’s Law – You only have six hours, so rather than trying to do everything, you simply focus on doing the one or two things that will get you closest to your MVP.
- Parkinson’s Law – You only have six hours, so there’s no time to mess around! Get to work!
In other words, this is the bootstrapper’s version of Startup Weekend on steroids and at 30,000 feet.
- Battery life – If you’re balling up in business class, you’ll have an advantage, but if you have to manage a deteriorating laptop battery, you’ll need.
- WiFi limitations – This is becoming less of an issue, but can still be a problem. Again, planning beforehand can make this a non-issue.
- Fancy logo design – This isn’t needed. Graphics are going to take too long and don’t provide any actual value when you don’t have a product. You just need to get started.
- Access to e-mails – Don’t email. This isn’t a productive use of your time.
- Data collection – Spending time collecting data and reference points, and looking up information is going to take precious time that you can’t afford. Do this beforehand and have it at the ready.
Note: The easiest way around all these limitations is to plan ahead and not waste computer time. If you’re not actively creating something using the computer, put it away and sketch out things in your notebook instead.
You can do this on an ongoing basis depending on your flight lengths.
Suggested alternative challenges:
- (Shorter) The Coast to Coast Challenge (LA – NYC = 4 1/2 hours)
- (Longer) The Pacific Challenge (LA to Tokyo = 10 hours)
What can you create if you give yourself just a few hours? I dare you to find out.
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