What is ‘monk mode’: The productivity hack used by CEOs and entrepreneurs

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“Monk Mode” is a popular productivity hack among entrepreneurs and CEOs that has gone viral on TikTok. The practice of engaging in one’s work and not giving in to distraction has been around for years. Going into monk mode means that you and everyone around you know you’re going to be just focusing on work. Something is loading.

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In a world filled with endless pings and scrolls, it’s hard to tune out the noise and focus on your work. This is where “monk mode” comes in, a popular productivity hack among CEOs and entrepreneurs.

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

Monk mode, which went viral on TikTok last year, has been a trend among entrepreneurs and self-help gurus for at least two decades. Since 2004, searches for monk mode have increased periodically, according to data from Google Trends, and they’re back on the rise this year.

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

The rise in social media expression could possibly coincide with the 2020 publication of Jay Shetty’s book, “Think Like A Monk,” according to data from social analytics firm Captiv8. In the book, Shetty, a popular podcaster and author with 12.6 million Instagram followers, wrote about his experience becoming a monk and how it helped him train his mind to focus.

“I want to show people that thinking like a monk isn’t just about being still and calm, it’s actually much more about seeing patterns and connections; seeing things in the 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 involves taking “it upon yourself to adopt monk practices of isolation and self-discipline,” he wrote for Insider. More concretely, he turns off all his devices. He used the tactic to write a 20-page plan for his ticketing and reservations website in just an hour.

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

Another creator goes into monk mode by working 12 hours a day for two months straight. When he’s finished, he celebrates.

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. To let people around him know he was going offline, McKeown said he set up an autoresponder to let people know he was working. The book, “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less,” was released in 2014.

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

“It’s not just about your phone and laptop — your whole environment needs to be set up to be successful,” Wood said.

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