- “Monk mode” is the practice of working on only one task and not getting distracted.
- Rachel Harris, co-founder of an accounting firm, tried the hack after hearing about it on YouTube.
- She does this in her shed office at home every morning between 6am and 8am.
This essay is based on an interview with Rachel Harris, a 29-year-old co-founder and director of an accounting firm from Buckinghamshire, England. Insider has verified their business earnings. The following has been edited for length and clarity.
I founded the accounting practice “striveX” together with my husband James in July 2020 after working in accounting firms for 10 years.
It started with us planning around our dining table. Now we have more than 600 clients – from people with sideline jobs to companies. We made £71,500 or about $85,700 in revenue in January.
We offer clients a free business planning session and sessions for our clients to network with each other.
I am profoundly deaf. Being around people all day gives me hearing fatigue, so I prefer to work from home most of the time.
I use “monk mode” for deep focus with my head down. My phone must be in flight mode.
I first heard about Monk Mode on YouTube two years ago. I had tried other productivity hacks like getting up at 5am and taking an ice cold shower before starting work. Those didn’t work because I didn’t enjoy them.
When I tried Monk Mode, I put comfort first. I do it in my pajamas with my wearable blanket over it and work from my shed office at the end of our garden. This place is mine. It’s painted my favorite shade of pink, and I keep the lighting subdued and soothing to get in the zone.
I’m an introvert, but I spend most of my day talking to people. Silence at the beginning of the day is really important.
I start monk mode at 6am in the morning before I get dressed, shower or do my daily yoga
My day is split into two parts: Monk Mode and Everything Else. In monk mode – the first two hours of my day – I do what many people would spend more time doing during their nine to five days.
I get about 150 emails a day. In monk mode, I clear my inbox, reply to emails, and schedule meetings. I never have an email in my inbox for more than 24 hours. When I finish my two hours at 8 am, I close email for the day.
I know that otherwise I would spend the whole working day in my inbox. I find that if I reply to emails throughout the day, people reply to me right away. It gets messy.
I spend the first 15 minutes of my day categorizing my emails into “quick ticks”, tasks and projects
I sort my emails into categories from those that take the least amount of time to those that take the longest to process. Grouping tasks helps me be productive.
I call “quick ticks” e-mails that urgently need to be answered but take less than 30 seconds to write, e.g. B. Accepting a meeting invitation. These emails take between 50 minutes and an hour to work through.
I spend the last 45 minutes in monk mode on longer-term tasks. Tasks are things that take longer than a quick email. I’m working on some tasks during this time, e.g. B. Marketing requests, and schedule time to get projects done during the week.
Projects take longer than tasks and are activities that I need to set aside a block of time to complete later in the day or week. This is usually about improving some aspect of the business or adding another passive revenue stream to the business.
I spend my 9-to-5 time meeting clients and scaling my business
From 8am to 9am I do yoga, shower and get ready for the day. I like a clear separation between Monk Mode and the rest of the day at my desk.
I use the rest of the day to focus on scaling the business – talking to potential clients, working on personal development with members of my team and organizing events. I usually spend two days a week meeting prospects and three days on other projects.
Getting my email out of the way by 8am frees my mind to focus on those tasks for the rest of the day. It’s therapeutic.
We encourage a hybrid work schedule. I go to the office with my team for lunch once a week.
Although I try to finish work by 5 p.m. at least two days a week, I often work late. But I don’t mind because I love building this business.