I Tried Monk Mode Productivity Hack and Hated It

  • Samson Baxter, a web developer, tried ‘monk mode’ to get more done at work.
  • At first he hated it, especially staying off social media, but then his productivity shot up.
  • He eventually began to feel burned out again and too isolated from social interactions.

This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Samson Baxter, a UK-based 22-year-old web developer and owner of the art platform Fursonafy. It’s been edited for length and clarity.

As a web developer, I’m often in the middle of a crazy workload, barely keeping my head above water. 

I’m fortunate enough to be in a managerial position, but it means I’m working more than ever, constantly responding to emails, taking calls, and writing redrafts for projects that aren’t going the direction I hoped. 

I was feeling overwhelmed and like I couldn’t get anything done when I learned about the ‘monk mode’ productivity hack. It’s as Zen as it sounds — it’s all about taking a monk’s dedication and discipline into your work.

I was intrigued and decided to give it a shot.

I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that it’s super difficult to pull this off

Since monk mode is all about cutting out the noise of the world to focus solely on your work, I said goodbye to social media, dialed back on hanging out with my friends and family, and set up a workspace where interruptions were strictly off limits. The goal was simple: get rid of anything unnecessary and give 100% of my attention to work.

Samson Baxter

After five weeks of monk mode, Samson Baxter felt burned out again — this time for a different reason.

Courtesy of Samson Baxter

At first, it sucked — I felt like I’d immediately hit a wall. I realized how much of my day was consumed by distractions like social media, and it was becoming pretty challenging to continue the day without the occasional peek at what was happening on Instagram. 

For anyone who’s thinking about trying this, I strongly advise against checking social media as even if it’s just a quick look because it’s a slippery slope that will completely break your focus.

After about a week, I really started to get the hang of it 

I was reaping the rewards of not giving into little distractions throughout the day. By week two, I was having a full-blown six hours of nonstop productive work. 

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t be taking breaks and having time off, as that’s crucial to avoiding total burnout — but if you’re in the zone, try to stay in it.

By week three, I was really starting to see what all the buzz was about: I was getting more work done than I ever had before.

But then I hit another wall

My productivity got a pretty good bump initially, but being cut off from everyone is intense. Too intense, actually. 

I missed hanging out with people, and without it, I felt emotionally wiped out. 

About five weeks into it, I felt completely burned out again — and I was getting some serious déja vu that reminded me of the reason I turned to monk mode to begin with. 

I had no time in my day to do the things I wanted to do. If I stopped working at any point, I felt guilty. I began to feel isolated — but at the same time, I felt that my isolation was self-inflicted, as though my feelings were completely invalid. 

Something had to change

In the end, I decided that while monk mode did ramp up my focus initially, the long-term effects weren’t for me.

I learned that I need a bit of everything in my life — work, socializing, relaxation — and a balanced approach is what works best for me. After all, everyone’s different, so a productivity strategy should fit you like a glove.

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