I’ve spent 415 hours on this digital service this year, and it has improved my work life, spiritual life, and health. No, I am not talking about Facebook, Youtube, or Disney Plus.
One of the most significant problems I face is managing myself when I’m working alone. In a given week, I work on the study, preparation, and more by myself for more than 20 hours. I struggle with distraction, demotivation, and more. Yet, I love my job; I love the work I get to do.
Focusmate changed how I work.
Focusmate is an online digital coworking community. You can think of it as having a digital study partner.
Here is how Focusmate works. Say you need to work through your email inbox, and you’ve been avoiding it. You log on to Focusmate and select a 50-minute time period that you want to spend working. At the time you selected, you log on, and the system matches you with another person in a video chat. At the beginning of the session, you and the other person (usually a stranger) share for 30-60 seconds precisely what you will be working on that hour. Then you and your partner will generally turn your microphones off and get to work. At the end of 50 minutes, a chime will sound, and you both report to each other how you did. You thank each other for the help and sign off.
This simple service works. It has dramatically boosted my productivity at work. It has also helped me to develop some incredible habits.
If you go to the Focusmate website, you’ll see an explanation of why this works. I’ll explain how this has worked for me.
Focusmate integrates five behavioral triggers to achieve a flow state:
I love working in “the zone,” where I lose myself in my work. This flow state makes my work better and my use of time more productive. Focusmate helps me get there every day.
Pre-commitment means that I commit with another human being that I will start work at a set time. It’s effortless to change commitments I make to myself. If I commit to myself that I’m going to get up early, myself is very understanding if I need to sleep more. It’s a whole different deal when I wake up and realize I have a Focusmate session in fifteen minutes. If I miss the meeting or am late, then I let someone else down. Pre-commitment holds you internally accountable.
Focusmate also forces me to define how I plan to work. There’s a world of difference between you saying to a friend, “We should get coffee sometime” and “Let’s get coffee tomorrow at 8 am.” When you spell out what you intend to do, it’s easier to do it. When I tell my Focusmate partner what I intend to do that session, it solidifies the commitment for me. If I commit to researching the whole hour and watch a show, instead, I break-a commitment.
I admit it. I’m affected by the people around me. When all the people in my house want to go to Baskin-Robbins, I want to go too. When I belong to an online community committed to focusing and productivity, I raise the bar in my own life.
You are supposed to only take about 60 seconds at the beginning and end for check-in/out. That said, I have had countless short conversations about life and productivity journeys. I meet many awesome people striving to focus on important things and get work done. They challenge and inspire me every day.
It matters when someone asks me if I did what I said I would do—keeping my commitments matter even when talking to a total stranger. I want to see myself as someone to does what he says he would do. Committing to another human to work hard for 50 minutes matters to me.
It helps that I’m working with strangers. Think about your home and workplace (office). You have (hopefully) good relationships with many of the people there. You talk about family and hobbies and work. It’s hard not to talk about the fun things in your life when you should be working. On Focusmate, the system partners you with strangers who are only there to get something done and help you do the same. You don’t talk about other things in your life because you often don’t know other items about your partner’s life.
Specificity in the task definition
A lot of times, I don’t know what I’m doing. When I hop on Focusmate, I have to look someone in the eye and specify what tasks I will do in the next hour. That moment forces me to work through the fog in my head and come up with a game plan. Sometimes I stick to the program in my sessions, and other times I come up with a new plan. Either way, when I specifically define my next steps, they are much easier to take.
I love how international Focusmate is!
Every day I work with people in different parts of the world. I’ve met men and women all over Africa, Europe, Asia, and islands around the world. I’ve had to use google translate to talk in one session. I love meeting so many different people!
I am so thankful through the Pandemic that I’ve gotten to partner with this community. Focusmate has helped me focus on the important but not always exciting work I must get done. I hope perhaps it can be a help for you. I would love to see you on there!