I had my first session with Focusmate today, a service that was introduced to me a while back as a means to keep me accountable while doing those tasks that I generally abhor, and thus delay until the last possible moment.
During my first year back on the Island I was in the midst of a work crisis. I was doing so many different little things, attending far too many events, had no real deadlines, and no one to answer to. The structure and extreme pressure of my previous workplaces were gone and I was languishing.
This wasn’t a new problem, as I’ve tried working independently from home at various times, for over 20 years. I think seeing Sandra Bullock sitting on a beach with a Powerbook, miraculously connected to the Internet, in The Net, might have started it all. I tried just about every productivity hack, software, and method available and am a self-professed expert in most. While they certainly help with organizing the things that I needed to do, they were useless when it came to keeping me accountable.
The problem has been largely solved – I can be as productive alone as I was with a sociopathic CEO and overly ambitious team members. Developing my own work structure and self-discipline has been one of my successes over the course of the pandemic. Too much so, as I became the workaholic I was when competing with others.
But now that I am working in my own space, without any distraction whatsoever, I find I miss the little bit of human interaction you get when you work around other people. The noise. The annoyances. I also learn a great deal by simply observing others in work or public space. Perhaps Focusmate could fill this role?
I found my first session … weird. Beyond a check-in and a wrap-up you don’t actually talk or listen. You just stare at this head on the screen from time to time, like a voyeur who has commandeered a strangers webcam. I can see where it might help with accountability but it feels like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole for my use case.
At $5/month it seems like a ridiculous value, so I’m going to give a few more sessions a try and see how it changes my work habits.