Think of monads as of codification of imperative effectful computations in a more general way.
Ah, the functional paradigm. Your brain is screwing with you. You have to stop thinking about telling computer when to do things, you know, do this, then do this, then do this... let computer decide when to do what. Your brain is confused and is trying to tell computer in which order to do things, but did you ever think about the order when creating Excel spreadsheet with formulas? Clojure is like Excel. You focus on the formulas, and Clojure figures out order of execution.