[This is a guest story written by Focusmate user Rachel Morgan-Trimmer.]
I walked in the door, the weight of disappointment heavy on my shoulders.
“Oh, you had your hair cut!” said my husband.
“Yeah,” I replied, “But I don’t really like it.
All of us have had a bad haircut of course, and mine came a the time that Macmillan (a well-known cancer charity) were running their “Brave the Shave” campaign to encourage people to shave their heads to raise money.
You can see where this is going, can’t you?
But shaving my head was just one of those things I added to my enormous and ever-growing “to do” list, along with the important stuff like running my business, starting a new business, writing a book, building an extension to my house, making sure the children don’t turn feral, and battling existential dread.
Most people use their “to do” lists as a way of actually, y’know, doing stuff, but I kind of used mine to avoid it. If I wrote something down, it felt like I’d dealt with it, even when I hadn’t. I normally lost my “to do” lists eventually anyway. So when I wrote “Brave the Shave” on my “to do” list, at the back of my mind, I thought it would never really happen.
Focusmate is a simple and effective web app that pairs you with an accountability partner. The partner is a real person – someone who, like you, needs the presence of an extra person in order to get stuff done. You check in at the beginning (yes, you’re on camera, that’s really important), tell each other what you’re planning to do, then check back in at the end to see if you really did do it. Then you close the session and spend the next ten minutes wondering why you look so terrible on a webcam. Simple, and highly effective.
I read about the concept of accountability on one of the ADHD sites. I had noticed that I actually did what I said I would when I had an appointment with someone – usually a call with a client – and I figured that using an accountability partner could work well for me. And I was right!
There’s something weird about having an accountability partner. It kind of makes you accountable to yourself. There’s nothing to stop you from disappearing down a Pinterest hole for the entire session, or telling your partner you’re going to sort out a boring database but then writing a much more fun blog post.
But the honour system is very powerful – as is the commitment to someone else. If you’re late or you don’t turn up, you’re messing up the session for your partner. Some people don’t give a crap, but for most people, that’s an incredibly powerful motivator.
Anyway, back to me and my hair. By the time I’d decided to shave my head, I’d already used Focusmate sessions to sort out not only my “to do” lists but also my schedule, meaning all the stuff on my lists got put onto my schedule so I’d actually get to it at an assigned day and time. I was actually getting through my mammoth list of tasks!
So one day, I signed up for “Brave the Shave”. Didn’t take long. I didn’t do anything else for a couple of weeks until another Focusmate session during which I scheduled my shave, set up my fundraising page properly, and told everyone I knew. So I couldn’t back out!
Come the day of the shave, I washed my hair, put on a ton of make-up, grabbed my family and walked to my local barber shop – Kevin the barber had offered to do it for free. I think he was quite excited about it actually! I live streamed the whole thing on Facebook, including the kids’ total lack of interest, and I was done.
Now I look like Sinead O’Connor – not the young, pretty version unfortunately, but the middle-aged crazy one. Weirdly though, I have never received so many compliments. This is what friends and family have said about me and my bald head:
“It really suits you.”
“You are an inspiration.”
“Mummy, you look like a potato.”
That last one from my 3-year-old.
Anyway, I quite like my new look, and I raised over £1,000 for a very worthwhile cause – more than doubling my original target of £500. I’m saving a ton of time every morning by not having to wash my hair, and I’m looking forward to trying lots of fun new styles as it grows back. Possibly not a 90s-style undercut though.
So there you go, that’s how Focusmate made me lose all my hair. I highly recommend you try Focusmate as it’s free, it’s very effective for a lot of people, and it’s a wonderful community. And it (probably) won’t make you go bald.
This post was written by Rachel Morgan-Trimmer, who has just set up www.sparkleclass.com to help people who aren’t normal to manage their life and work.
Productivity scientist, reformed procrastinator and creator of Focusmate. Featured in Forbes, CNN, GQ, Huffington Post. I believe that most global problems would get solved if everyone could do their best work. My mission is to make that happen.