How to enter monk mode and achieve peak productivity

Implementing monk mode can help cut distractions and let you focus on personal growth and productivity

Life is full of endless distractions competing for your time and attention, especially when a deadline is lurking around the corner, and you have something important to get done.

How do you ensure you follow through on your most critical tasks? That you're able to do the things you need to – especially when you don't want to do them? The answer lies in getting into monk mode – follow a strict, disciplined lifestyle of deep work so you can see through any task that you want to or need to do.

Want someone to check in with you every day to make sure you're staying focused and keeping away distractions? Check out Boss as a Service.

Ahhhh, zen mode!

What is monk mode

When we think of the word "monk" we imagine the serene faces of people who have achieved a sense of peace – who never seem to stress or let anything distract them from their purpose. In reality, of course, even monks face distractions. Monks go through years of training – training in focus, in meditation, to help them get to a point where they can begin to resist the urge to get distracted, through a carefully practiced combination of introspection, isolation, and improvement. This is the monk mode approach.

With introspection, you can analyze your emotions and thoughts. Why do you get distracted? What is hindering your focus? Thinking about these questions can help you move forward.

Implementing monk mode can help you cut distractions and short-term satisfaction to focus on personal growth and better productivity.

How you can implement monk mode in work and life

Set goals

To achieve goals, you need to have them in the first place! Figure out what you want to work on – your career, education, lifestyle, or even your social life. Set clear, precise goals (maybe a SMART goal? Try our helpful tool here!) so you know exactly what you're working towards.

Next step, identify what's stopping you from creating or reaching your goal. Are you distracted by your phone or computer a lot? Or do you tend to procrastinate? Then make a goal to break all goal-blocking habits!

Pick your most productive time

Many people feel most productive in the first half of the day. But some people are night owls, who feel their most productive in the night. There is nothing wrong with that – just make sure you know where you stand! If you schedule your important, goal-attaining tasks in the time you feel the most productive, you can increase your chances of being able to get into deep focus mode.

Try monk mode mornings

Okay, this is a bit of a counterpoint if you are a night owl, but you can experiment with your routine! Monk mode mornings are a way to begin your day with a period of intense focus and energy. Schedule your tasks to the minute early in the morning, keep all distractions – meetings, messages, phone calls – for later in the day, and get to work. You'll find that you can achieve a lot more in just a few hours than you were previously able to all day!

This is very similar to one of our favorite strategies for getting work done – Eating the Frog, where you tackle the most difficult, or the most important task of the day first thing in the morning. And when you're done with that, the rest of the day seems a cakewalk in comparison!

Set up a dedicated workspace

You cannot, and should not, try to work, eat, watch TV, and sleep in the same bed all day. Set up a dedicated space for work, with lots of natural light and positive energy, and away from anything that distracts you. Let this space be for work and work only, so you're subconsciously training your mind to start going into monk mode and focusing.

Reduce all distractions and app usage

Sometimes we don't know what's stealing our focus. You may not think a Youtube video here or there counts as a distraction, but if that proves to be a rabbit-hole, and you're still there seven hours later, hey, that can't be good.

Even things we generally categorize as "good" might prove to be distractions. For example, if you're spending all your time on a fitness app's community group, consider if that's useful. Yes, it's a fitness app, and it's generally good to spend time on fitness. But is hanging out in their forum all day really helping your fitness goals? The brain is very good at deceiving us – things that feel "productive" might be a waste of time.

It starts with understanding and auditing the things we spend time on. Use a tracker like for your computer, or an app usage tracker for your phone, and figure out where you're actually spending time.

Reduce social interactions that don't serve you

Humans are social, that's a fact. But your social interactions should work to enrich your living experience and help you in your progress, rather than pull you away from it. If you think social activities take up more of your time than necessary, hit pause to reclaim your focus and attention.

Monks are famous for withdrawing themselves from society. While we don't have to go that far (and indeed, social interaction provides myriad benefits, both physical and emotional) removing yourself from an environment that harms your productivity can go a long way.

Create a system for tracking your progress

As you get better and better at monk mode and subsequently, achieve your goals, make a note of how far you have come and the lessons and techniques you've learned. This could come as a weekly or monthly review, a milestone tracker, or just a good, long introspection. Celebrate your success as a way to motivate yourself to keep going!

Celebrations come calling when you put your head down and focus!
Don't forget to celebrate those milestones – even the tiny ones!
The easiest way to track progress on your goals and habits is to sign up for Boss as a Service. We'll give you a Boss who'll check in with you and hold you accountable every day.

Benefits and downsides of monk mode

Like everything, there are some pros and cons to consider while going into monk mode. Keep the pros of monk mode in mind for a motivational start:

Extreme focus

The whole point of going into monk mode is self-improvement, especially in terms of focus. Achieving the ability to concentrate on a single task and seeing it through is the fundamental advantage.

Better self-discipline practices

Resisting the temptation to turn to fun and distracting things is difficult, and without consistent practice, you often lose to the digital chaos of modern life. Since monk mode involves working to actively avoid distractions and dive deep into important tasks, it helps you improve self-discipline and spend dedicated time on what's necessary.

Enhanced creativity and innovation

Monk mode offers a chance for good mental space to ramp up your productivity and try new things for work. With good focus and the distractions at bay, you can learn new things, do something fun and productive, and enhance your approach to life.

More goal completion and personal development

Knowing that you're making progress towards your goals is great for mental clarity, as it gives you a better sense of achievement than the short-term bursts of dopamine from things that don't help your productivity.

Now, just like the potential benefits, here are some likely cons to be mindful of with monk mode:

Increased isolation

Isolation is an effective way to reduce distractions, but it can also get lonely. If you're not careful about where and when you practice it, you may develop a mindset that suggests staying away from everyone and everything is necessary always, which is not healthy for your wellbeing.

Total isolation can make you feel all alone
Avoid too much isolation!

Not always practical

Isolation and having periods of deep work are better for some goals than others. A PhD student, for example, may find it easier to go into monk mode than a teacher or a salesperson who needs to talk to people all day. And you can't say you'll do a monk mode morning if your goal is to go to the gym and get fit, for example. So you need to be practical about where and when to use it.

Temporary solution

Monk mode is great to get focused, but it won't solve the larger problems of being stuck on a goal. It'll get you in the right mindset, but you need to work more to improve from there.

Balancing monk mode routine with other aspects of life

Start slow

Entering monk mode takes practice – don't try to master it right away! Make a slow start, see what works for you, and establish a routine to try and follow for consistency.

Organize dedicated time and spaces

I've said this before, but picking the right time and place is super important here. Your environment needs to be geared towards helping you get into a focused work mode.

Set expectations

Be clear about what you want to achieve with your monk mode time. Do you want it to help reduce procrastination and distractions or just develop self-discipline that you can use elsewhere? Knowing what you want from it will help push you till you see results.

Know what you're looking for and how you're going to get there
Know what you're looking for and how you're going to get there

Practice meditation

Deep work should be accompanied by deep relaxation. Your mind will start to work quickly and intensely, so make sure you always take the time to cool it down and get calmer.

How BaaS can help in your monk mode routine

Here at Boss as a Service, we're all about deep work and focus! Our real, live bosses help you make clear goals and see if going into monk mode each week will help make progress. With daily check-ins, we can make sure you stay consistent in putting in the work!

We also want to do our best to help you avoid burnout and putting your brain into overdrive, so you can have as positive a day as possible!

Final thoughts

Getting into monk mode for deep focused work will help make sure you don't give in to distractions, stress, or procrastination instead of productivity.

Trying to stick to a goal, or create a new habit? Join Boss as a Service. Boss as a Service gives you a human Boss who keeps you accountable to your goals. We monitor your progress by making sure you're sticking to your plan, and if you're falling behind, we follow up till you finish them. We make sure you actually follow through on what you plan!

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