What is monk mode, the viral trend that promotes a mindful break from social media?

Monk mode can be hard to access via sheer willpower, but there are some apps that can put users on a timeout

Monk mode promotes taking a break to focus on tasks. Photo: Unsplash
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The latest viral trend on social media is to get off social media.

Monk mode, a new catchphrase circulating online, promotes taking a break from apps such as TikTok and Instagram to focus on a task at hand. It is a form of digital detox, pulling away from the constant stream of notifications with the aim of boosting productivity.

@jabagelmanog Day 1 of 30: Monk Mode Journey #motivation #success #monkmode ♬ original sound - JabagelMan

The hashtag #monkmode has gained traction, particularly on TikTok, raking tens of millions of views. People are sharing tips on how to go about their day to boost productivity, from waking up early and making the bed to exercising and eating right. But it all begins with laying off social media to focus.

Monk mode can be hard to access via sheer willpower. If you’re looking for a crutch to help you take a break from the steady and highly-addicting flow of content, here are three apps to help you out.


Freedom sets up a block on the apps and websites you find time consuming. Freedom’s founder Fred Stutzman told BBC that he developed the app while he was in university and was having trouble writing his dissertation because he was constantly on Facebook.

The app allows users to set a timer to block access to apps and websites. There is a workaround that lets you stop the timer early, but the paid premium version allows for locked version and lets you schedule timeouts.

Cold Turkey

If Freedom isn’t intense enough, then there is Cold Turkey. Ideal to boost your desktop productivity, Cold Turkey prides itself for being “the toughest website blocker on the internet".

Like Freedom, users can tailor the apps and websites on the block list, as well as the duration of the block. Users can also choose to cordon themselves off the internet. An added advantage of Cold Turkey is that its premium version doesn’t operate on a subscription model, with its Blocker Pro available to own with a one-time purchase.

Cold Turkey also has other apps to boost productivity, including Writer, which turns the computer into a typewriter, meaning the only thing users can do with it is write.


Forest puts its own spin on the productivity app. Every time users enter focus mode, a tree is planted on the screen, growing as users focus and work. Leaving the app before the timer is up will kill the tree. If users stay committed and keep up daily goals, they will have a sprawling virtual forest to prove it.

Updated: October 08, 2023, 4:03 PM