Monk Mode: A New Approach to a Thoughtful Idea – by Michael W. Michelsen, Jr.

Monk Mode: A New Approach to a Thoughtful Idea – by Michael W. Michelsen, Jr.

Until 2001, I had a great job with a Silicon Valley tech company. I was doing promotional writing and I loved it. I was paid well…the whole nine yards.

Then the 2001 stock meltdown hit me. Faster than you can say unemployment line, I was grafted to the end of one. Making matters worse, I had two daughters who were coming up on their debutante balls, and, needless to say, I had all the expenses to pay for, but no money.

One day, I was bemoaning the situation with my wife when she said, “You’re a writer. Write something.” As usual, she was right.

My trouble was that I went directly into my usual state of mind: Scatterbrain Mode

It was right after this happened that I read an interesting article on a website about a hack called “Monk Mode.” Now, you have to understand that I am not Catholic, much less a monk, but I do have a religious studies background in college so I understood the general idea.

What I read in the article was not about becoming perfect, or even approaching it, but it did give me a place to start. Monk mode is focusing all your attention on one thing for a given period, and giving the very best you can.

I first got on the phone, and called a publisher friend of mine to ask what he could do. He offered to call a few of my former competitors to see if they could help. Needless to say, they were happy to have me on their team.  Both of these companies gave me several assignments and, within two weeks, I had thousands of dollars as a result of my work; more than enough to pay for my daughters’ event. Okay. I know what you are thinking. “If I could do that, I could do remarkable things.” Guess what? I did it and so can you.

A Place to Start

If you are anything like me, your desk is probably a mess. If I am honest with myself, I have to admit that all the stuff on my desk is not really just stuff. They are reminders. They remind me of bills I need to pay, books I want to read, stories that need to be written, and much more. To achieve monk mode, I must clear all those reminders off my desk so I can concentrate on one task, and one task only.

Sometimes, when I am stressed, I need a timer to let me know when I have worked a given period. But, when I have really achieved monk mode, I don’t even need that.

Health Issues

About a year ago, my daughter bought me a smart watch. My watch tells me, among other things, when I need to get up and move. For this reason, I usually set my timer for one hour, which lets me know when it’s time to take a break, both physically and mentally.

What do I do next? I wait. I start working until I have achieved monk mode, a place that fills me with excitement and creativity. For me, it’s total nirvana. Once I am in that space, I can do anything. So can you.


Michael W. Michelsen, Jr. is a freelance writer living in a cultural wasteland commonly known as Southern California. He specializes in business and technology subjects, but is not too proud to consider virtually any subject. Readers can reach him by email, Muck Rack, or LinkedIn. Facebook does nothing but frustrate him, but if you insist, you can see his page here: