What is ‘Monk Mode:’ Productivity Hack Used by CEOs and Entrepreneurs?

  • “Monk mode” is a productivity hack popular with entrepreneurs and CEOs and has gone viral on TikTok.
  • The practice of dedicating yourself to your work and not giving in to distractions has been around for years.
  • Going into monk mode means you and everyone around you know you’re only going to focus on work.

In a world full of pings and endless scrolling, it’s hard to ignore the noise and tune in to your work. That’s where “monk mode” comes in, a productivity trick popular with CEOs and entrepreneurs.

In short, monk mode refers to the practice of working on only one task and not succumbing to distractions, including phones.

The monk mode, which went viral on TikTok last year, has been a trend among entrepreneurs and self-help gurus for at least two decades. According to data from Google Trends, monk mode searches have increased periodically since 2004 and are on the rise again this year.

The term has inspired apps, social media communities, and a popular TikTok challenge.

According to data from social analytics company Captiv8, the rise of this phrase on social media could likely coincide with the 2020 publication of Jay Shetty’s book Think Like A Monk. In the book, author Shetty, a popular podcaster and 12.6 million Instagram followers, wrote about her experience of being a monk and how it helped train her mind to focus.

“I want to show people that thinking like a monk isn’t just about being still and calm, it’s actually more about seeing patterns and connections, seeing things in mainstream culture that remind you of wisdom,” Shetty told The Guardian.

In practice, monk mode can mean different things to different people.

For Josh Wood, CEO of the Bloc app, monk mode requires “taking it upon yourself to embrace monks’ practices of isolation and self-discipline,” he wrote for Insider. More practically speaking, it shuts down all of its devices. He used this tactic to write a 20-page plan for his ticket and booking website in just an hour.

For an influencer, monk mode is based on three “non-negotiable” things: 10 minutes of meditation a day, 30 minutes of exercise a day, and no alcohol or drugs.

Another creator goes into monk mode, working 12 hours a day for two months. He throws parties when he’s done.

Author Greg McKeown used monk mode when writing a new book in 2013.

He wrote from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m., five days a week, for nine months. McKeown said he set up an autoresponder that lets people know it’s working, to let people around him know he’s out. His book “Essentialism: In Pursuit of Few Discipline” was published in 2014.

Wood’s advice to people trying monk mode is to start with shorter time intervals and work down to hours or days.

“It’s not just about your phone and laptop – your entire environment needs to be set up for success,” Wood said.

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