When I first heard about the monk morning, I just couldn’t wait to give it a try. My schedule is flexible and I definitely do my best work first thing in the morning. What’s more, I’ve been struggling with distraction now more than ever. I have a two-year-old, a husband, and a writing career to balance, and the more productive I am, the better. The morning — before my toddler and husband wake up — is the best time for me to get stuff done. It's a routine called the monk morning, and it's a total game-changer.
What is the Monk Morning?
The monk morning is a simple concept that involves removing all distractions including phone calls, text messages, emails, and any meetings for a certain block of time every morning. Whatever block of time that you set aside, you close the door, close the curtains, and do whatever is necessary to shut yourself off from the outside world. It’s the best way to find your flow state. Maybe you’re working on a thought-provoking project, prepping dinner, working out, outlining a book, or whatever task needs to get done -- this is that perfect time to do it.
Why the Monk Morning Works
If you’re trying to pencil in enough time during the day to fulfill a project outside of your regular job, or maybe you’re thinking big picture in a way that you don’t have time to do during the normal day, the monk morning is ideal for you. It’s also helpful to get the most difficult work of the day out of the way first thing in the morning so that by the afternoon, you have time to wind down. For example, if your monk morning is from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. everyday, you’ve already accomplished a good portion of the day’s work by mid-morning. In the afternoon, you can make time for meditation, yoga, a run, time with the kids, dinner prep, or whatever your heart desires.
When the Monk Morning Doesn’t Work
Not everyone has the luxury of cutting themselves off from the rest of the world every day. If you work for somebody else it’s not realistic to shut the door and say you’re unavailable. Many of us have family that need us first thing in the morning. And some of us find email and the news too tempting to avoid right after waking up. The monk morning is not for everybody but for some people, it’s a very productive use of time.
How to Go Distraction-Free
The late Maya Angelou (1928-2014) is said to have taken great pains to avoid distraction. When she was working on a book, she rented a hotel room with nothing in it but a Roget’s Thesaurus, a dictionary, and the Bible. All the paintings were taken down from the walls and the staff was reportedly asked not to knock on the door. Angelou wouldn't sleep there, she simply worked from 6:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. and then retreated back home to her family.
Take steps to make your workplace as free as possible of that which distracts you the most. During your monk morning, keep your smartphone at bay, turn off the notifications on your laptop, close the curtains, and tell your family to keep their distance. Even if you can’t take all these steps because your job or life situation doesn’t allow for it, you can take some steps — like turning off your smartphone — to remove unnecessary distractions from your life. And be realistic. You don’t have to set aside five hours each day to enjoy a monk morning. Just an hour or two can be all that you need to make space in your day.
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