The GuardianThe Guardian

Can ‘monk mode’ help improve my productivity?

By Emma Beddington

03 Apr 2023 · 3 min read

Editor's Note

Have you heard of “monk mode”? It’s a productivity hack that involves cutting out all distractions and focusing on a single task. The Guardian asks whether it really works.

They’re hard at work in the TikTok productivity mines, which is more than can be said for me. Among the things I have done that were not my intended work recently, I listened to a podcast where I discovered a colleague writes more in a “bad week” than I manage in a month. It didn’t make me work harder, but my inner critic redoubled its attacks: “[Nameless colleague] would have written 4,000 words in the time it took you to Google ‘DIY skin tag removal’, you dolt.”

Time to dip back into Hack-tok, where the fire-emoji bros have rediscovered “monk mode”. It’s not a new idea – apparently people have been Googling it since 2004 – but got a boost in 2020 from Jay Shetty’s How to Think Like a Monk_,_ which applied the principles Shetty learned in his time as a novice monk in an ashram (meditation, visualisation, “transformational forgiveness”) to contemporary capitalism.

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