This article is based on an interview with Josh Wood, 32, CEO and co-founder of the London-based hospitality tech company Bloc, about his experience looking for a productive hack called “monk mode.” The text has been edited for length and clarity.
Recently I had a big deadline that I wanted to implement in my company, Bloc. I had so much baggage in me that I was easily distracted in preparing for the journey hereafter, and whenever I received it.
As a CEO of a startup, you fulfill many roles, so focus and productivity are incredibly important in my current work.
In July 2022, I was introduced to a productivity hack known as “monk mode” from a TikTok video by Iman Gadzhi, a successful young entrepreneur, so I decided to give it a try.
As an entrepreneur, my TikTok feed is full of business-related posts, self-help tips, and productivity tips. So every time I’m on the app, I see posts like this from people.
A monk is a way to complete an objective without obstacles
A monk’s attitude is one in which all the senses are involved in the task. In this sense it is used for the practice of solitary and self-discipline of monks.
This is the reason why a monk chooses to live in secrecy and silence: it is the best way to concentrate on inner thoughts and achieve peace of mind, to remove yourself from any distraction.
The idea is not to have something around that takes your mind away from what you are doing. This means turning off everything—your phone, apps, computer notifications, and email—so nothing distracts you that isn’t your goal. There is an app called Mode Monk that can do this for you.
In the quest to be more effective, I also tried the Pomodoro technique, which is working in 25-minute minutes, followed by a short break, then repetition.
When I was doing this, it seemed to me that 25 minutes of work was not enough time to really reach a productive state. I also found it difficult after the break that I found myself fighting procrastination and the urge to book on TikTok again.
For me, the monastic way is a better way, because I can enter into baptism and the state is distracted for a much longer time. For since there are no fractures, therefore the least temptation makes something fruitless. For me, everything around me is a potential distraction.
That’s why I try to remove everything that can take my attention that I don’t need: notifications, unspeakable members and social networks, this way I can do much more during the day.
The monk could only be briefed so that you are fully focused on the present, which is in front of you.
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I use the monk method to complete a lot of my work
This trick has worked very well for me when doing basic things at work.
For example, he helped me with a new printing model that we wanted to implement in Bloc. It was a site with a ticketing and booking application that I had to create completely from scratch.
I started with a blank Google doc, in monk fashion (this time I did it out of sheer determination, although sometimes I prefer the app), and within an hour I had written 20 pages of content.
Now I also use Monk just to answer emails in the morning and for more complicated tasks like planning software development.
I enter the monastery only early in the day, when I feel most fertile and alert, and I leave the calls and members until late in the evening, as they generally require more indolence and attention.
I also only use Monk for smaller tasks, like approving which ads are going to go on our site. After all, concentration is a tool and is valid for any activity.
I only go into monk mode when I know I don’t need to
Most of the messages I send these days via e-mail, text or social media, if I turn to monk mode, I know they’ll be there waiting for me when I’m ready and able to pay attention.
One thing I’ve also done to make this focus method very effective is to make it clear to others that I’m not the best at contacting me.
I usually plan my days very well. I always share with my employees, colleagues and family the best times to contact me and when not to move me. I also tell my partner that I’m going to become a monk if I work from home.
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I tend to spend most of my working hours this way, unless I’m attending a meeting, which is incredibly rare because there’s always an “emergency” that can’t wait.
If I am in monastic mode for a certain 2 hours, whoever needs to contact me about something, knows to wait for that time. I’ve never been in that situation where I’ve been in something important because I’ve been offline and in full focus mode.
I think if that ever happened, I would inform one of my colleagues, even if I said I couldn’t be bothered at the time.
It is true that I expect most of them.
The hardest thing about monk mode is not getting distracted by your thoughts
When I first started to try this method of concentration and productivity, it was very distracting, but now that I have some experience practicing the monk method, I can concentrate for more than 2 hours.
I tried every day until a month later I used to not look for my phone, looking for something on the internet that had nothing to do with what I was doing or checking members because I remembered something that didn’t matter at that moment. After 20-30 attempts, I felt like I was really getting used to it and the results were palpable.
A trick is a specific purpose. When I have a goal, I become focused on myself, and I want to achieve it as best as possible, this way my mind focuses and does not start to wander.
Another challenge is turning the monk into a way off. Depending on the task at hand, at first it is more difficult to know how to begin to make it happen, but once I have asked where I am thinking about what I should do, it is also difficult to turn away. afterwards and to pass on to the next work.
I prefer to go into monk mode and stay in it as long as possible, usually 2 hours, at least once or twice a day.
Monk is a useful way to reach an increased state of productivity
I say that my productivity when I enter the monk, mode 5 is more than when I go to work. I can exercise more during the day and at a much higher level of quality.
But the thing that stands out the most about being a monk for me is that I no longer have to work 80 hour weeks. I can do so much work in less time, which frees me up for other important things, such as social life and family.
Now I try to work between 30 and 40 hours a week. From this it is clear that a lot depends on what is being done and if there are new projects, as in the beginning they require more dedication.
These are my tips to get started using monk mode
It is better to start a monk’s method with only 30 minutes and increase until it reaches an hour or more without distraction.
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Depending on the task, you can do shorter sessions, for example, 10 minutes and a break.
If you work at home, you must teach people to live with your colleagues and you are just going to be a monk. It’s not just about the phone and the laptop: the whole environment must accompany you to be successful.