Monk Mode allows you to get your creations out the door and into the world.
It’s been used by CEOs and entrepreneurs for decades as a means to achieve personal and business goals.
Even the rapper 50 cent talks about how he changed his life after he got shot by going into Monk Mode to make music.
However, going into isolation to pursue a goal, greater mental clarity, better physical health, and/or enlightenment is as ancient as history.
I’ve personally used monk mode to get sober, pass exams in rigorous coursework, and take my boxing training to the next level. It’s a mindset I’ve adopted when I’ve needed to generate money or create digital products/assets.
And I plan to use it as an integral part of my strategy for writing my next book.
In short, Monk Mode can change your life if you do it right.
In this post, I’ll share my experience with this game-changing productivity hack and tips on how you can make it work for you.
What is Monk Mode?
Monk Mode is the idea that you disappear and focus intensely on one goal or several goals for a set period of time. You don’t do anything but eat, sleep, and work on your goal.
I imagine it’s called Monk Mode because of how we understand a monk lives. Monks have sworn off all material possessions. They live on very simple meal plans and because their surroundings are very ascetic, they can focus for months.
It just so happens that monks focus on internal cultivation. When you go Monk Mode, you don’t only have to focus on internal development.
How is Monk Mode different from other forms of focus?
The thing that differentiates Monk Mode from other focus or productivity hacks is isolation.
You don’t simply isolate yourself in the physical sense but you remove all distractions from internet access and social media.
You effectively become a ghost. You disappear.
Benefits of Monk Mode: How to get results
The primary benefit of Monk Mode is that you get your creations out of your mind and into the world where they can pay dividends and create opportunities for you. Done correctly, you can make a lot of progress in a short timeframe.
Monk mode helped me overcome alcoholism because I was intensely focused on my goals. It became impossible for me to do anything else because of my focus, including drink. It set the stage for sobriety to become a habit.
Other benefits of Monk Mode include:
- Ability to focus for a longer period of time
- Improved mental health because you have fewer distractions and are able to make tangible life improvements
- Improved physical health because you break your addictions to porn, video games, or alcohol
There are 5 pillars of a good Monk Mode plan that are non-negotiables:
The first step/pillar is to assess your environment to ensure you can do it.
For example, right now there’s no way I could go Monk Mode. I just had a child and he requires my energy and time. Also, there are no major, demanding projects I’m working on right now.
So if you have a family or people that depend on you, you’ll likely have to leave home to set up in a hotel room or Airbnb, somewhere you can be completely alone.
Maya Angelou famously checked into a hotel every morning to write for hours while author Greg Mckweon rented a small office to work each day.
The purpose is to isolate yourself from all distractions such as socialization, endless notifications, the internet, social media, and scrolling random stuff that takes your attention away from your task.
This is difficult to do, especially if it’s your first time. In the modern world, we’ve conditioned ourselves to work distracted. So this is going to be difficult but don’t worry if it takes a little getting used to.
2. Decreasing options
The second thing you want is some type of repetition in your daily life. In fact, everything should be repetitive and automatic so you don’t have to think or waste energy thinking about other unrelated tasks or work.
For example, choosing the same outfit and having the same meal every day. From the self-discipline practices of monks, we see them wearing the same outfit and eating the same meal every day. Why? Because choices waste time and energy.1
Because a lack of choices can also cause distress, at the very least, plan your meals ahead of time.
Remember that wearing the same outfit doesn’t mean wearing the same clothes. You don’t want to become so smelly that your hygiene is distracting you.
3. Breaktime, water, & sleep
Plot out your breaks throughout the day so you aren’t getting lost in random idle moments. Also, you want to have a water jug next to you so you don’t have to keep getting up.
If you’re a coffee drinker like me, you may want to keep the warmer near you or use a thermos and make more coffee on your breaks. I prefer a french press because it tastes better for black coffee. I like my coffee so black it makes me late to meetings.
I get some debate on this but here’s how to handle sleep during Monk Mode: Make sure you’re energized enough to focus and make good progress during your waking hours. Sleep as long as you want but once you’re awake, don’t linger in bed.
Chess grandmasters are able to burn up to 6000 calories a day during tournaments because of the intense level of focus.2 So you need to ensure you have adequate rest for the work ahead.
4. The project
The ideal project to work on during Monk Mode is something you can accomplish within a specific timeframe. Things that need a lot of time to develop don’t work here. Monk mode works best on projects for creating intellectual property or solving technical problems.
- Writing software
- Creating music
- Revamping your website
- Writing a book
- Starting a new hobby
Monk Mode isn’t ideal for long-term plans like fitness or studying because results need to compound and develop over time.
You need a definite start and end date to your time in isolation. Most people consider monk mode to be a period of focus of a year, month, or week.
But you can arrange it how it works best for you.
The key is to create an environment that fosters the deep work necessary to complete your goal.
Who is Monk Mode for?
If you’re single without children, Monk Mode can change your life.
If you have a family, you can reap the same benefits but you need support, and a modification to the intense isolation I’ve described above. Becoming a ghost for weeks to months at a time may not be feasible for you.
Since I have a kid now, Monk Mode will require more planning and coordination with my fiance. For instance, now I will schedule out days ahead of time in my calendar while I’m careful to extend her the same courtesy. This way we take turns caring for our son when we have work to get done.
So you’ll also need a spouse who is supportive and understanding.
Final thoughts on the benefits of Monk Mode
Monk Mode can be the difference between a life where you constantly spin in circles, struggle with addiction, and suffer poor mental health…
It can be the self-help, self-improvement tool you need to become a man you’re proud of. No matter if you’re an introvert or extrovert, solitude is necessary to do great work. Before you try it, start with a plan:
- What will your environment look like?
- What clothing and meal options will you choose?
- How will you handle your physical needs?
- What time frame are you functioning under?
- What project will you complete during this time?
Hope this helps, send me a message on Twitter if you try Monk Mode. Let me know how it goes.
Reutskaja, E., Cheek, N. N., Iyengar, S., & Schwartz, B. Choice Deprivation, Choice Overload, and Satisfaction with Choices Across Six Nations.Sage Journals. Journal of International Marketing, 30(3), 18–34. (2022) https://doi.org/10.1177/1069031X211073821 accessed March 23, 2019. ↩
Kumar, A. The grand master diet: how to lose weight while barely moving. _ESPN.com. _2019. [https://www.espn.com/espn/story//id/27593253/why-grandmasters-magnus-carlsen-fabiano-caruana-lose-weight-playing-chess](https://www.espn.com/espn/story//id/27593253/why-grandmasters-magnus-carlsen-fabiano-caruana-lose-weight-playing-chess) accessed March 23, 2019. ↩