A couple of days ago, after deciding to make a number of significant changes to my life, the concept of Monk Mode stood out as the most effective way to organize and spearhead their genesis.
Disclaimer: Monk mode is not for everybody. One thing I like to encourage people is to experiment with, instead of just blindly following all the advice they receive on the Internet. My set-up is based on a deep understanding of myself as a person. If you don’t have that, you’ll have to acquire it yourself, through trial and error of different set-ups).
The concept of Monk Mode is not new, or my creation (I believe it was Illimitable Man who coined the concept). It is, however, a very useful method for getting the junk induced ADD riddled modern man to focus towards productive activities instead of cheap entertainment or vices that do not help him move his life forward.
Like every solution, it takes genuine will and desire to make work. Many gurus and influencers will emphasize the idea that if you can’t do something to improve your life you don’t REALLY want to improve it, but in my opinion this line of thought is a form of defeatism and is generally ineffective at getting you to move.
One of the issues with self improvement is that your brain is wired to run bad habits on autopilot. A few years ago, on one of the many instances when I decided to lose weight, I found myself the next day walking home from the nearby restaurants with a pizza in one hand and some jerk chicken and rice in the other.
“Oh shit, I’m supposed to be on a diet.”
The same can happen with any other activity the modern man uses to numb his depression, anxiety or existential pain. Netflix, video games, weed, alcohol, porn, even women are used as cheap, easy balms that help him escape, if only temporarily, his miserable condition.
Like a monk, monk mode involves a rejection of your vices and a focus on what’s important. While this post is not about communion with God (like a real monk), the parallel of the exercise remains useful as a framework for self improvement.
What to do
There is no single way to do monk mode. For example, I rarely drink alcohol. It’s not a part of my daily routine and it’s not a part of my weekend routine. But if it is a major obstacle for your own goals and ambitions limiting or removing it from your routine should be a component of your own schedule.
One almost universal issue nearly every guy has in the manosphere (other than women) is money, which is the main focus of my monk mode. I have several projects that need work: this blog, another blog I started (completely different topic, no relation between them), a dropshipping business and a video game.
I’ve also lost a lot of weight, but still need to lose more. Not having a steady income is not conductive to a good diet, but it works just fine with intermittent fasting.
Lists are useful for cataloging your strengths, weaknesses, tasks and projects that need to be done, before making a plan of attack. IE:
Mesomorph body type
Easily bored, low attention span
Prone to sudden low moods, tend to cut bursts of productivity short
Projects & Tasks:
Blog 1: Produce a large number (up to 10) initial posts, then at least 2-3 posts per week.
Blog 2: Finish initial burst of posts, then at least 2-3 posts per week.
Video Game: Produce 2-4 sprites per day
Dropshipping business: Product research, build store, use free traffic methods (will discuss this at length in a future post) to build up pixel (since I have very limited funds for now)
Fitness: Return to strict intermittent fasting regime (I did one meal a day before my recent vacation screwed up my momentum), introduce new daily workout (5-6 exercises, mostly dumbbell, one bodyweight, will discuss this in a future post as well).
What NOT to do
Now, just as important as what to do, comes what NOT to do.
All sources of distraction must be set aside during your active period (which itself should be for the majority of the day). Phones are a major issue for most people (I do not have a smartphone and don’t intend to get one for the forseeable future, not because I don’t like gadgets but because I’m a snob who refuses to work with a tinyass screen when I have a large monitor on my computer desk), along with social media (in my case, twitter, I mostly use facebook or instagram for work so they’re a non-issue). Netflix, videogames and pointless partying/”hanging out” are also common distractions.
It is imperative that while you are in monk mode these distractions be eliminated if possible.
Now, I don’t think most people are built to do nothing except work out, eat, then work on their business (or whatever project they entered Monk Mode to accomplish) every waking moment. At the same time, if you allow these time wasters back into your life, they can slowly start to expand and monopolize all your productive time again. In my case I intend to start by banishing all of my usual time wasters (twitter, Netflix, videogames) to after 9pm EST. Will this work? I intend to do a follow-up post with my progress so we’ll see. The trial run has been good so far.
One trick I learned from, I think, Pat Stedman, is that to get something done that you don’t want to do, allow yourself to not do it. Tell yourself “Okay, you don’t have to do this, but you can’t do anything else either”.
This tends to have one of two effects:
- You start getting bored and figure doing what you don’t want to do still beats doing nothing
- That idle time helps you organize your thoughts on your work and projects and bring some clarity with regards to what exactly you are supposed to be doing
Despite unprecedented abundance, many of us have trouble adjusting to a fulfilling and productive lifestyle and default to one of pointless hedonism and sloth. I am no different in this regard.
By planning out what you should (and should NOT) do and then entering into a committed contract with yourself to set aside worldly distractions, Monk Mode will enable you to achieve a higher self and the benefits that come with that.
Monk Mode is NOT for everybody. I do not recommend it if you have a family or other major commitment (IE: job). You may still benefit from short term bursts of focused work, a topic I intend to discuss at a later date. Monk mode is primarily for the single man with few to no commitments and ideally underemployment (or unemployment) and not in school full time.