30 freaking days.
That’s when my baby girl arrives. I’m excited and nervous too. My friend Danny said “expect to poo a lot while she’s in labor.”
I thought this was a strange comment. Nerves make our bodies do strange things. I have no idea what to expect. It’s going to be a crazy time.
No more good little self-help boy with 5 am morning routines and green smoothies for three meals a day.
I’m told there will be no sleep. I’m going to be changing nappies non-stop. So before all of the chaos starts, I’m switching on my monk mode.
Here’s what that means and how you can use it.
The late 2000s idea of monk mode
Some say David Cain invented monk mode.
He swears he didn’t, but who cares. Monk mode is where you focus on a big goal for a sustained period of time with unusual intensity. The idea comes from monks. They have an intense focus.
If you’ve ever been on a monk retreat you’d have seen it.
They can meditate for long periods without breaking the habit. The monk mode idea is that you disappear for a while and work on a goal, while at the same time staying away from distractions, vices, and addictions.
I have many temptations I struggle with…
But with a bay girl on the way I have a strange level of focus I’ve never had before in my life.
I tell my wife that monk mode is my survival mode. I want the best for my daughter. I want us to be able to, hopefully, buy a small house with a backyard for her to play in.
We still rent and our current home doesn’t even have a bedroom for her.
There’s no backyard. Just a cement area the size of a shoe box that the next-door neighbor’s dog loves to piss on.
So before my daughter is born I want to get everything ready. I work harder than most people realize. When she is born there will be a lot less time to write so much and DM other writers all day.
I’ve started a Zapier automation project to enable tasks to occur without me. I’m trying to hire a virtual assistant to outsource some of my work to. And I’m storing everything about my online business in the cloud so my business partner can see into my brain and help.
My goal is to be more self-sufficient. But it requires effort and focus I’m not used to, hence the monk mode.
No more catch-ups
I’ve cleared my calendar.
People now know I’m going on a form of solopreneur paternity leave. I won’t be doing any Zoom calls with anybody. Most emails will go unread and will have an auto-reply with something like “I just became a dad so don’t expect a reply.”
There isn’t time to waste.
There are so many things to do in the next 30 days. I have to get the car ready, buy baby clothes, learn about giving birth, support my wife, plus get the in-laws into Australia and get them settled.
Normal productivity is hard. Monk mode is ruthless.
One of my addictions is sugar.
Bizarrely, without even trying, my diet has dramatically got better. It’s as if my body knows what’s about to happen and has reprogrammed my brain.
With fewer food treats, I have more energy.
I’m able to focus better and get everything done for my daughter. Food can either fast-track your big goals or slow you down.
High energy equals speed.
Gym more often
My desire to exercise has increased too.
I’m lifting harder at the gym and doing more long walks. I want to be fit and healthy so I can hold my daughter for long periods of time and not get dead arms.
The more monk mode I’ve gone, the more I’ve got uncomfortable. Discomfort provides rewards that are hard to describe.
What this all means for you
Most productivity advice is about how to work less. Monk mode is about how to work more for a short burst of time to achieve a big goal.
My question for you is, what if you disappeared for a while?
What if you became a monk and got away from all the distractions? What if you became single-focused on one big goal you’ve been putting off? And what if you lived without your addictions for a while?
Sometimes the only way we know what’s bad for us is when we go full monk mode for a while and give up all our regular habits.
And when we go deeper into an activity than we ever have before, we uncover new insights that can reshape our future.
Challenge: go monk mode until the end of the year. Block out all the distractions and be anti-social for a while. See if anything changes.
I’m willing to bet monk mode gets you out of a rut. It might just change your life.