Focusmate Review – a growing accountability movement

Focusmate Review - a growing accountability movement

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Morning all,

Tue 31 Aug

Later start today as I’m back from ‘holidays’ i.e the long weekend.

I got back onto Focusmate today and thought I’d take the time to write up a review of it now that I’m 18 sessions into using it:

Deepak Shukla

First of all I should say that this won’t be a complete review of how it works. It’s pretty intuitive so you’ll be just fine using it.

It’s more a review of how it’s helping me and what I think about it:

So – Focusmate actually makes me uncomfortable – which is fascinating to me – and ultimately powerful.

If something that’s heralded as a productivity/accountability app makes me nervous when I think about using it – it means it’s probably pretty good for me.

And Focusmate is just that.

This is an article from back in 2019 from the New Yorker – and it was founded in 2016 so it’s been around for a while.

Cultural Comment

Basically – you can schedule meetings with strangers and announce to them what you intend to work upon whilst you share screens and get to work.

Some people share screens, others turn their video and mic off, others keep their video on and mic off. Based upon the 18 sessions I’ve had it seems the trend is to keep your video on and your mic off.

In the main – the people that I’ve met are students, and they use it for presentation preparation, coding exercises, language learning, and the like (all excellent things).

I was first introduced to it by my accountability coach Valentina, and it’s definitely something I want to incorporate more.

You get 50 minutes of shared time with someone – and it begins with an awkward ‘hey X, what are you going to work upon today?’; and once you’ve made your announcements – off you go to get the work done.

As you can see – here’s my calendar for the week and I’ve currently got my next session set up at 7 am tomorrow BST.


I’m planning to do several sessions a week every week as a means of upping the ante when it comes to my productivity.

[convertful id=”197358″]

I’d say the psychology of announcing your intentions to a stranger and how much this runs a massive integrity test is brilliant.

All this person has in terms of their judgment of you is simply your announcement – and then you simply ‘doing the work’ with the results posted at the end.

So there’s a deeply human aspect to this that compels you to get things done.

It’s a kind of productive focus that’s bought about by needing to make your work essentially a ‘public performance’.

And this is what causes the level of anxiety within you to rise – because it’s pretty much a true test of ‘will you work upon what you’re meant to’.

So as you can see here – I’ve got my couple of sessions lined up for the week (see the arrows):

Data Details View

But you’ll also notice (see the badly drawn rectangle) the other sessions I could book throughout the day.

Evidently, the power of Focusmate is in its community – and for only $5 per month for a premium account – it’s an absolute bargain.

Its founder Tyler Jacobson has built a powerful community of accountability partners that are evidently (to take from Cal Newport) is trying to bring back focus in their lives.

I guess the challenge I still have (which is why I’m not raving about it just now) is that a lot of my work (as a manager of people) involves….talking constantly – which Focusmate doesn’t lend itself aptly towards.

However – it’s just a matter of intention when it comes to using Focusmate – i.e if I choose what I’ll work on when I’m in Focusmate – that could make all the difference.

And this is one of the things that I discussed with Valentina – and then that list is large.

This is something I’ll actually be doing in my session tomorrow for Focusmate.

I expect Covid has helped accelerate its growth and whilst right now I’m on my 18th session in – I look forward to seeing what happens and how I feel about it by the time I’ve hit my 100th session.

Assuming I get there of course.

No matter which way one goes, however – it’s definitely worth checking out and seeing literally how much it improves your focus!