In line with “Work like a Lion, Not like a Cow”, I have found myself working in sprints and more sporadically now that I have actual control over my schedule. Something that i believe many former white collar office workers have experienced since the start of the pandemic where offices are still shut down 10 months later. As remote work becomes more prevalent, learning how to manage your time, energy and effectiveness will be even more important.

However, there are some times when you have to make a major push due to some crisis or deadline. This is what they call “Monk Mode.” That means literally working in isolation and going to take extreme measures in living without distraction from other people around you. This happened for me after I sent my family to Taiwan on July 19th in 2020. I was facing a personal financial crisis, so once my wife and daughter were away, I could go to deep focus and literally live like a monk. I turned off the heater, took cold showers or showered every two days, ate sparingly. This enabled me to cut dramatic amounts of costs from the monthly budget. Then I spent almost every waking hour outside of my exercise regime working on the eBay business for cash, taking paid consulting projects, working on selling one of my properties. Basically fighting my way out which I finally did in October.

One of my favorite authors wrote:

“(Monk mode) means shutting out the world for a time,” McKeown says. “It is a relatively extreme approach to take, but (my wife and I) decided I would write from 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. every day. I did that for five days a week for about 9 months. I worked from a small office–tiny really–but in it I found space. And in that space I found creative freedom.”

I did this for 3 full months until I was out of the crisis and able to get back on more stable footing. Brutal but it works. My realization was that having my family around is an amazing and pleasant life. Something to look forward to and treasure. I love being around them but they can also be a distraction, albeit a pleasant distraction. And the priority for them is comfort. But that comfort is the enemy of progress in all its forms. Nothing ever started from being comfortable. It prevents you from getting stuff done, especially in a crisis.

This is when you have to go to war, and war with yourself in some cases. It’s going to war WITH yourself, FOR yourself! You literally have to go to the mattresses as they say in the classic movie “The Godfather”. One of my life heroes, Bobby Axelrod from Billions (yes, I know he is a fictional TV character) said this best.

“Do you know why they call it going to the mattresses. Because you had to move out of your home and hole up some place where no one can find you with all your men. But you had to do it quick, so you’d get a jump on the rival family before they get a jump on you. So you had places stashed around the city with the mattresses on the floor. That is where you make your stand until you nailed the boss of the rival family. And once you got him and all his soldiers fell into line, that’s when you go home to your comfy bed and your wife and kids.”

Not always fun but sometimes you have to do it.

“As a blacksmith uses heat to temper steel, so should a trial by fire strengthen one’s mettle.” — Jeffrey Fry

Every single person will face this in their life and it can be one of the most productive if not brutal times that shape you. Monk Mode is a great tool, used sparingly, to get a lot of Sh-T done.

Listen to this Newsletter: https://listencat.com/the-hard-fork-by-marvin-liao-podcast/

Ever curious: Tsundoku, Reader, Aspiring Shokunin, World traveller, Investor & Tech/Media exec interested in almost everything! www.marvinliao.com

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