Anyone else using Focusmate?

For the people that are already using it: I don’t want to post my session invite link publicly on the internet, shoot me a message over on Discord if you want to connect and work together. :) If we’re enough people Focusmate might even create a group for us, since exercism is a not-for-profit, who knows.

For the people that don’t know what Focusmate is and who might be interested: Focusmate is an online co-working platform. You book a session and get matched with either a random person or one of your friends on the platform. Sessions can be 25, 50 or 75 minutes long, most people use 50m. The session begins with telling each other what you want to work on. Ideally you tell the other person a detailed break down of your task you want to accomplish in this session, which forces you to be more conscious and break larger tasks up in smaller parts. Usually both people then mute their mics but the cams stay on, so you get the feeling of working with someone / not being alone. At the end you debrief and optionally do a bit of small talk. A free account gives you 3 sessions per week. Subscription for unlimited sessions currently is $6.99/mo. billed yearly or $9.99/mo. billed monthly. I swear I’m not affiliated with Focusmate whatsoever, I just love the service. I don’t think it’s an overstatement that finding and using Focusmate changed my life. :D

People get more stuff done and stay more focused just by someone “being there”, this concept is known in the ADHD community as body doubling. But I think anyone who is struggling with procrastination, getting started with something and/or staying focused can benefit.

Here’s the official video demo:

A friend of mine uses a similar concept for an online co-working space that is focused on academic writing (with lots of coaching assistance in the back).
I have used that to write code and it really is helping a lot. So I think focusmate might be on to something.

I was a long-time beta user and tester for Focusmate. We also used to regularly have similar sessions (we called them silent hangouts) through another coding community I’m a part of, but then we deprecated our website for it.

I left Focusmate for several reasons - at the time, sessions were limited to 50 min, and that wasn’t enough time for me to get into long-term flow (the session was always ending and interrupting me). I also really REALLY hated having to have the camera on all the time. It was just weird and awkward and annoying. And having to switch partners every 50 min just didn’t work either. It also had very few coders at the time, so many of my sessions were eaten up explaining myself.

I do think having accountability/companionship while working can be great. I really enjoyed silent hangouts in that other community. But it is a coding and cs-learning focused community, and we had socialized screenshare and/or having 1-2 agreed-upon checkins via chat or voice over having cameras on.

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Yeah, it’s probably like with every productivity approach, different people just work differently and have their own particular needs and preferences. I think it’s one of the common sins in the productivity industry that people love to claim that their approach works for everyone or at least they imply it. I had a look at the available services and Focusmate met my needs the best. But it’s interesting to hear what people dislike about it.

@BethanyG Basically all the things that bother you about Focusmate are a plus for me. :D I can be in a flow state for hours, working away on a problem for many hours but at the same time going full tunnel vision, shaving all the yaks for the solution that I’ve decided to work on, only to realize that I could have taken a different approach like 3 hours ago. So having a break every 50 minutes really helps me to stop for a moment and reflect on what I’m doing, also giving my subconscious time to work on stuff in the background and bring some new ideas to the surface that I might be otherwise too busy to notice.
There is the possibility to group only with software engineers now via the group feature now (there’s a SE group) but I don’t use it. Meeting people from all (in reality: a few more) walks of life and from different countries really enriches my day. One of my first sessions was with a person that was painting the wall, which I loved. Lately I’ve been matched with more and more people doing office stuff though. And of course I also enjoy some sessions with people I know or nerding out with some other software engineer after our session has ended. Last week I had a nice session with a software engineer and by coincidence it was the last session of the day for the both of us so we talked for 40 more minutes.

Anyways, I’m happy you found something that works for you. :)