We live in a world full of distractions and are more stimulated than ever. As a result, attention is divided and scattered. It’s difficult to know what to pay attention to and we can easily get distracted from tasks at hand.
Our culture is driven by productivity and success as determinants of happiness — a culture of “more.” But sometimes, when we are chasing more, we end up having less. Because of this, a new, viral trend called ‘monk mode’ helps delegate our internal resources more efficiently towards what we deem most valuable in that period.
What Is the New Trend of ‘Monk Mode’ all About?
Monk mode refers to a lifestyle focused on self-improvement, discipline, and increased productivity, taking inspiration from a monk’s dedicated and focused lifestyle. In short, it is a holistic approach to personal and professional development that emphasizes mindfulness, routines, and intentional living.
“Monk mode is about two things: Disconnecting from the fire-hose of inbound communications, especially electronic ones and focusing deeply on a task or project, without all those distractions,” says Alexis Haselberger, time management and productivity coach at Alexis Haselberger Consulting.
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What Are the Benefits of Monk Mode?
All our feelings like satisfaction, happiness, and fulfillment come from inside. “When we’re not getting distracted and train our attention on a single task, the result is not only better externally but also internally,” says Larry Tribble, Ph.D., productivity and management coach at Do Busy Right. “With monk mode, we feel disciplined, focused, efficient, motivated, content and satisfied.”
If we are on a mission to achieve something, the process is important and helps build internally deeper and more meaningful connections with our work, and ourselves. “This kind of connection, along with being fully present in the moment, is a vital component in the happiness most people are seeking,” Tribble adds.
Studies also show that we waste about 23 minutes for each interruption, therefore, making time for distraction-free work is less stressful and more productive.
“It’s also a lot easier to achieve and maintain a flow state in a task when we remove all notifications and alerts,” Tribble says.
How Can You Achieve Monk Mode?
Attention travels through the gateways of the five senses — hearing, sight, smell, taste, and touch. If you want to get better at controlling your attention, you must work with the senses.
“Along with practices like meditation, you can focus on moderating your environment which implies creating your space which insists you sit and work regularly,” Haselberger says.
She further advises that it’s more effortless to remove temptation than to resist it. “This means closing down email, Slack, and teams [not just silencing the notifications] and turning your phone on Do-Not-Disturb or silent.”
According to Haselberger, some other techniques are:
Block “Do Not Schedule” time on your calendar and time-block important work for these times.
Turn off notifications, put your phone in a different room, or use blocking software to keep you from going down internet rabbit holes.
Airplanes are a fantastic place to go into monk mode. Without the internet and with limited movement, you can get more work done quickly on an airplane than anywhere else.
Schedule a weekly “no meeting” day.
Use your Out Of Office reply or Slack status message to communicate when you’re in “monk mode” and how to reach you in a true emergency.
How Does Monk Mode Work?
“When we set up our environment so that there are the fewest number of distractions possible, and plan to work on a specific thing, our brains gravitate to that flow state and once we start making progress, it becomes a little addictive (in a healthy way),” says Kristina Luce, MSOP, senior wellness coordinator at Mountainside Treatment Center.
When you learn how to manage and effectively direct your attention, you become instantly more influential and productive. Simply because the mind isn’t busy doing other things.
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Is Monk Mode Truly Effective?
“The great thing about developing a monk mind is that it involves moving in one clear direction, which is removing all unnecessary distractions,” Luce says. “Every time we make an effort to control our focus, it’s like making an investment — no progress is ever lost.”
However, according to Haselberger, we live in a hyper-connected world, and because most employees feel they need to be “always on” by responding quickly to Slack messages and emails. Therefore, implementing monk mode requires a resetting of boundaries and communicating with your team about what you’re doing. As such, it might not be met with welcome arms in many work settings.
If you are practicing it, there might be times when it feels challenging, but remember the saying: Practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes permanent. “So, every step you take to improve your focus is a step toward making it a lasting and positive habit,” Luce concludes.
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