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Focusmate: Productivity on Demand

4 min read

Imagine cutting your procrastination in half and doubling your productivity with just a click.

Picture this:

You wake up at 6am in the hopes of getting some work done.

An hour later, you end up scrolling Twitter on your phone, with the latest Netflix show on your laptop.

I know how that feels because I do that all the time.

Before the pandemic was a thing, you had to show up to your office or lecture hall even when you didn’t feel like it. There are consequences involved. Now that we’re home most of the time, no one is watching you or keeping you accountable.

It’s so easy to slip into distractions when working or studying at home.

The solution?

Bring that accountability home with Focusmate.

I was struggling with a particularly hard case report. Instead of working on it, I was scrolling cat videos on TikTok.

To my surprise, sharing my goals with a stranger in Sweden and knowing they were silently cheering me on turned my day around. By the end of our session, the report was done and my faith in internet strangers was restored.

What is Focusmate?

Focusmate is a productivity app that actually works.

When you launch the app, you’ll see a calendar where you can book 25/50/75-minute sessions. The app then pairs you with a partner who also wants to get things done. You then spend 25/50/75 minutes over video with your partner. Before your session, you explain your goals to your partner. After the session is up, reflect on how the session went.

It's similar to having a gym partner. When you agree to workout with your gymbro, you have to show up, or they'll think you're a jerk. Focusmate does precisely that - if you don’t show up to your session, you’ll let someone down.

Technically, you could do the same thing with friends, but sessions with friends distract me too much for me to get any work done.

Why does Focusmate work?

  1. When you schedule a Focusmate session, you’re committing to complete your tasks ahead of time. This is called a precommitment, and it improves our productive output because we’ve prepared for and accommodated the goal ahead of time.
  2. Scheduling Focusmate sessions are a form of implementation intention. It is being specific on what to do and how you will do it. By using implementation intentions, you are 2-3 times more likely to go through with your plan. (or at least the research showed that)
  3. Focusmate uses social pressure to make you complete your task. When we have someone working with us, we want to make ourselves good in front of them. This pushes us to get our best work done. We don’t like letting others down, but we let ourselves down ourselves down all the time by procrastinating. The solution? Book sessions with strangers. If we don’t show up, we’ll feel guilty about wasting someone’s time. We'll also find it harder to get a partner in the future if we're notorious for not showing up.
  4. Focusmate also allows you to practice metacognition when doing your tasks. You start by planning what you will be doing, and you end by reflecting on your tasks.
  5. It also makes work more enjoyable. A sense of solidarity with another human being is makes whatever demons you're fighting a little more bearable. Whether it's filing your taxes, going through email, or budgeting your money, there’s a sense of camaraderie when you know you’re doing hard things with another person across the screen.

Tips on using Focusmate

  1. Schedule sessions 24 hours in advance. You’re more likely to follow through with your plans if you set intentions in advance.
  2. Prioritise, then execute. If you haven’t prioritised your important tasks in a session, be sure to do so before jumping into work.
  3. Be specific with your tasks. Write it down as if you’re giving instructions to a tired and lazy future self. “Write Michael an email to schedule a meeting” is specific. “Email Michael” is not.
  4. Write down your tasks. Your goals are more likely to happen when you write them down. So write each task in the chat window to keep yourself accountable to it.
  5. Keep your partner visible so you remember someone's working with you. And keep your camera turned on. This way, you have to be at your desk working instead of going to the water cooler and not returning. Keeping your camera on also helps your partner to stay accountable.
  6. Use Focusmate for your most important tasks. Ask yourself: If I could only do one thing today, what would it be? Use Focusmate for that task.
  7. Schedule sessions to make yourself more productive. Want to wake up on time? Schedule a morning routine session. Want to avoid the post-lunch slump? Book a session after lunch. Want to avoid long breaks? Schedule back-to-back sessions so your breaks only last 10 minutes.

As the clock ticked past my scheduled start time, I could feel the familiar tug of anxiety—my lazy monkey self looming over my shoulder. Yet, today was different.

Across my screen, my Focusmate partner, from Cairo, shared her goal: 'Finishing the next chapter of my book.' As we worked, my monkey self went home, and I found myself completing my tasks and enjoying the process.

It’s easier to get work done and focus when you have a “gym partner”. And working with someone isn’t creepy at all; it’s productivity on demand. It might sound like a trick, but think about it —how often have you told yourself you'll start 'in just 10 more minutes,' only to find yourself in a YouTube Shorts spiral three hours later? Focusmate is like having that gym buddy who taps their watch and arches an eyebrow, silently saying, 'It's go-time.'" Try it out and let me know what you think.

P.S. I used Focusmate to write this! If you want a free month of Focusmate Plus, use my link.



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