Beeminder Forum

Focusmate

Recently I started using Focusmate, which turns out to pretty much duplicate what I used to get out of a Habitica Discord server… without the overwhelm of a dozen people and a couple of bots all sending messages. Someone mentioned creating a Beeminder group, but it’s not clear what that costs (if anything? the form for creating one mentions it being a paid service), so I don’t know if that’s something we want to do.

However! I am running across a couple of Beeminder fans there, and that’s pretty cool. So if you’re a Focusmate user and you want to peer at the bookshelves behind me/occasionally glimpse a rabbit, how about signing up to share a session with me? I usually plan out when I’m going to have sessions just a couple of days in advance, so there’ll be more slots available later.

Heeeere we go: use this link to sign up to cowork with me!

I’m currently using it for both work and personal tasks, so sometimes it’s email, sometimes it’s focused reading time without my devices on and pestering me, sometimes it’s just doing as many of my Beeminder goals as I can in a 50-minute session!

Right now I have a few sessions scheduled but they’re all random matches, so… I think anyone with that link can claim them.

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Thanks for sharing your calendar invite!

Beeminder specific Focusmate group will make more sense only if a lot of active users are a part of it. For the time being, people can share their invites here.

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I am tentatively, cautiously interested.

I’ll list my points of concern although no one has to reply. I’m mostly listing them to get my thoughts out of my head. Replies are welcome though if anyone wants to!

  • I’m not a huge fan of video calls (I realise they are mandatory for this).
  • Likewise talking to people although I expect I’d be fine with it for this since there’s limited talking and with a well-defined purpose.
  • I’m not sure how suitable my bandwidth is for it but that could be determined by just trying it (Australia’s federal government are a bunch of idiotic right-wing dinosaurs and royally screwed up the country’s broadband upgrade).
  • I’m at UTC+10 so I’d need to pair with someone in a suitable time zone; it puts me out of reach of shanaqui’s sessions alas. I would typically want sessions somewhere between 10am and 7pm in my time zone (that’s midnight to 9am UTC).

Anyway, I’ve created an account there. I have leaving-the-house commitments with uncertain time frames over the next three days so I’ll probably set up some calendar slots from Tuesday onwards. I’ll either let myself be picked by some random stranger on the site to see what it’s like and/or post my link here.

If it helps, my experience is that you connect, briefly describe what you’re going to do, and then most people mute their mics and get on with it. At the end, there’s a very brief discussion of whether you completed your tasks/how it went, and then you disconnect. There’s typically no personal chat or anything – beyond a polite “how are you” – so it’s very straightforward and people stick to the purpose.

Some folks may also find it reassuring to know that you can choose not to be matched with people based on gender – no men, no cisgender men, no women, no cisgender women. Lots of people put their pronouns in their display name as well.

If you want to be fairly sure about who you’re getting matched with, you can click on a slot that’s already filled by someone, check out their profile, and decide if you want to go ahead and have a session with them based on that. (You can end up matched with someone else if they’re late or someone they know chooses one of their booked sessions from their invite link page, though. That overrides any matches they already had from the general community.)

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I’ve been using focusmate myself for a few months, as I realized WFH was really making it difficult for me to get work done. I try to schedule one session a workday, at the beginning of a stretch of meetingless time, in order to sort of kick-start working on something productive in that time. It’s worked pretty well, but I should note that I’m someone who finds human-provided accountability highly effective (the only way I exercise regularly is by having a personal trainer, for example).

The bandwidth could in fact be an issue, although since the point is just to be a silent human-shaped face on a screen, high fidelity is not important, and there’s only really conversation in the first couple minutes and the last couple minutes of a session. It’s possible there’s a way to set a video quality on the session, and thus keep the bandwidth costs low, but as someone in a high-internet area of the US, I haven’t looked for that.

I’d recommend giving it a try at some point and seeing if it helps you; I see people using it at basically all hours of the day, so I’d imagine even from Australia you’d have a good success rate with getting paired up.

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I once had a session where my partner had such bad connection they could barely video or talk. So I said no problem, let’s just both turn off video and and audio, and let’s just chat. We just regularly updated the chat session with our progress. And you know what? It was just as good as any other session. So it got me thinking that a chat only version of focusmate could work pretty good as well. (@alys regarding bandwidth).

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@malcolm’s Complice productivity app has chat-based co-working rooms, complete with a synchronized pomodoro timer iirc.

Genius. I’ll be signing up! And probably beeminding usage so that I don’t forget…

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I’ve paid my $5 to get extra sessions (you get three free ones a week) so I should probably do this too!

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I’m between jobs (and not really looking for one), so maintaining a schedule can be challenging. I have one beeminder to do at least one focusmate session per day before 10 am, and another beeminder to do one focusmate session per day solely to focus on my beeminding. (They can overlap but rarely do.) So I’m beeminding my focusmate to Beemind.

I’m looking forward to focusmate beeminder integration!

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Hey folks! I’m the dev working on Focusmate/Beeminder integration. I’m also building out a public API and Zapier integration. If you’re interested in beta testing any of these features shoot me your email via DM!

I particularly need beta testers for the Zapier integration, which you could technically use to hook into Beeminder - but you’d probably want to use the direct integration instead once it’s complete. Still, let me know if you’re down to help.

@shanaqui - I booked a session with you for tomorrow (Aug 18) :slight_smile:

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Cool, I’ll see you tomorrow then!

Re: Zapier integration, I’ll have to have a look at Zapier and see whether it will do what I want for something else. This is mostly a memo to self to look back at this when I have!

I’m down for beta testing focusmate and Beeminder integration! Sent you my email.

I had my first session today. It was okay. Bandwidth was fine. I stayed on task the entire time. I’m not certain if it helped me do that or if I would have anyway. I’ll do more sessions and see how they go. I’ll try to pick times when I’m normally not good at staying on task and see how much difference it makes.

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Yup it is pretty helpful when one is not as productive. I sometimes find it helpful to share my screen as well for extra accountability.

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Yeah I wish I could share my screen, but I use it for paid work so not so sharable ^^;

I have seen people blur their screen while sharing through OBS software (OBS Focusmate Tutorial - Sorry it's so long! - YouTube).

There are other workarounds as well where text gets scrambled etc so even if screen is shared nothing can be understood thereby protecting privacy.

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I use both Zapier and Focusmate and can think of uses for the integration for myself so feel free to DM me if you’d like me to test it out.

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Hi David! I also use both Zapier and Focusmate.

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David,
I’m a serious user of focusmate (but not zapier). If you still need beta testers for Focusmate let me know.

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Having subscribed to the Focusmate ‘turbo’ plan, I’ve also connected it to Beeminder via Zapier. While we’re waiting on an official integration, here’s how:

I created two zapier zaps, both with the same pattern, but one to increment my goal when I schedule a session and one to decrement it when I cancel a session.

In zapier these are simple two-step zaps:

  1. Email by Zapier, to give us somewhere to receive the notification, each with a unique email address
  2. Beeminder, to blindly increment/decrement your goal when an email is received

In your email provider create filters/rules to forward the relevant emails to Zapier.

Things you’ll want to filter on:

  • From: calendar@focusmate.com
  • Subject: Your Focusmate calendar has been updated
  • Contains: "been scheduled"
  • Contains: "been canceled"

If zapier receives a confirmation email to one of those address, it’s forwarded to you rather than triggering the zap, so it works pretty smoothly

Known limitations:

  • assumes one email per scheduled/cancelled session
  • puts the datapoint on today rather than the scheduled/cancelled date
  • gmail seems to trigger both filters when cancelling, for reasons I haven’t grokked, so I’ve changed my zapier recipe to send a -2 datapoint on cancellation
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