Frequently Asked Questions: New Users Start Here

All your questions are answered in this handy guide!


Below are answers on the following topics (click to jump down):

Why use Focusmate

Focusmate is a tool to eliminate procrastination and get productive instantly. It allows you to block out the times you want to be productive and then, by matching you with a partner, holds you accountable to keep those times available to get work done, and show up at your desk at those times. Because every Focusmate session begins with you setting a specific goal, it also improves your ability to be intentional about the work you’re doing.

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How to register/sign up

To join Focusmate, visit www.focusmate.com and sign up with your Google account.

Note: Make sure to enable popups as Google sign-in will open a new window where you will choose which Google account to use.

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How to change your time zone

Once you create your account, open your profile. You can then change your time zone.

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How to book a session

      1. Open your dashboard
      2. Select a day
      3. Select one or more times
      4. Click Submit

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How to join a session

      1. Make sure you are using Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. Safari does not support video or microphone.
      2. From your dashboard, in the Manage your sessions area, click the camera icon to open your video hangout in a new window -OR- if you are a Google Calendar user, your calendar invitation includes the link to a video hangout. Click on it and it will open in a new tab.

To join from your dashboard: click the camera icon for your session:

To join from Google Calendar: click on the appointment > Click “map”:

If you see a Redirect Notice: Right click on the link:

 You can also find the same link in the details of your appointment:

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Etiquette and what to do during a session

The basic session etiquette is as follows:

      • Join your session on time.
      • Troubleshoot your mic and camera in advance to ensure they are working.
      • Keep your video on – we are here to provide accountability!
      • Work quietly. If you need to watch a video, make a phone call or listen to music, mute yourself.
      • Make note of every task you are doing via the chat function.
      • If at any time you are stepping away from the video, let your partner know via the chat function, e.g. “water break” or “bio break”.

While it is not required, we strongly recommend that you specify your tasks in detail, e.g. “draft a high level blog post outline” rather than “blog post”. Research shows this will improve your effectiveness.

ALSO SEE: Community Code of Conduct

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Coming up with tasks and using the chat function

At the start of every session, your first job is to tell your partner what you will work on first.

Be specific! A specific task is clearly defined enough that it’s obvious when it’s done (or not), e.g. “draft and send a proposal to ACME Co.”

This is for your own sake!

Once you share your task, write it down using the chat feature, which you will find in the bottom right corner of the video hangout.

Screenshot taken with permission of Diane Darling. Taking screenshots of users without permission is illegal and violates the terms of use.

 Open the chat window:

Screenshot taken with permission of Diane Darling. Taking screenshots of users without permission is illegal and violates the terms of use.

Type your tasks in the chat area:

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Best practices for a successful session

A few tips to get the most out of your Focusmate sessions:

      1. Make sure your partner is visible at all times. This will help you remember they’re there.
      2. Open your Focusmate hangout in a separate window. Then drag it to the corner of your screen so that most of your screen is available for working, and only a small bit is dedicated to the video.
      3. Always follow Focusmate etiquette.

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How to politely end a session

When your time is up, it’s appropriate to check in with your partner to see how it went:

“Hi [NAME]!”

Pause, wait for your partner to respond.

“How did that go for you?”

Let your partner respond.

“Awesome! Thanks for working with me. I’ll see you soon!”

Close the browser window.

Note: If your session ends and your partner doesn’t notice, consider leaving them a note in the chat window saying thanks/goodbye before you close the browser.

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How to know when you have a match

Every time you get a match, we’ll send you a calendar invitation. So the best way to keep track of your sessions is to use Google Calendar. In the future we’ll support other calendars as well.

Note: We strongly recommend using Google calendar to manage your bookings.

In order to ensure your Focusmate sessions appear on your Google calendar, go to your Google calendar settings and make sure events are added to your calendar automatically:

Google Calendar settings > Automatically add invitations to your calendar:

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How to message your partner

If you need to contact a partner before your session starts, you can do so by using the messaging link inside your calendar invitation.

Google calendar > Click on your session > Click on “More details”:

Click on “More details” > Click on the messaging link (see image):

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How to cancel a session

To cancel a session, either:

      1. Find the session on your dashboard and click the red “X” -OR-
      2. Open the session in your calendar and click the cancellation link (see image)

Cancel from your dashboard:

Cancel from your Google calendar appointment:

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How to report a no-show or misconduct

If your partner is late, does not show, or breaks etiquette in any way, you can and should report the incident. To do so, simply use the reporting link in your Google calendar appointment.

Click Google calendar appointment > Click “More details” > Click reporting link:

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