In praise of the stranger in my workspace

Through my time of being self employed, one of the biggest struggles I faced was completing tasks, both getting started and staying on task. I would start my day with so many good intentions, and more often than not, get to the end of the day utterly mystified as to why nothing had been ticked off my list.

Understanding that I have ADHD helped me understand this. Procrastination and poor focus are two of the most understood traits of the condition.

But understanding WHY, while it did allow me to be a little more forgiving of myself, didn’t help to solve the problem. It sometimes felt like something I would never be able to overcome, a life sentence with no hope of parole.

I learned, through a couple of Zoom co-working sessions, that I worked really well in a virtual co-working space environment. I set up a small accountability group through LinkedIn, and we enjoyed a few sessions together. In these sessions, I was hyper-focused and productive — the motivation of knowing that I would have to explain myself at the end of the session, and that there were people there who wanted me to achieve my goals, and would hold me accountable, really helped.

The moments of connection at the start and end of the session satisfied my extrovert need for other people to energise me and fulfiled my core value of connection. I would work like a machine in these sessions, and always came away happy and feeling productive.

When I lost confidence in the business I had been developing, due to the result of the 2019 election, and I decided I needed the security of a job, these sessions dwindled away. I could have used them to help me with my job hunting, but I felt embarrassed by my huge change in direction, and didn’t want to tell anyone in my business owner network.

I definitely prefer the convenience of working from home. I am a single mother. My job is an hour’s train journey away from home (not at the moment of course). My son goes to his father’s on a rotating shift (when he is not on furlough leave) so there are times when I don’t see him at weekends so my time in the week with him is precious. Working from home means that my lunch break can be spent preparing our evening meal, catching up on housework, walking the dog. It means that I don’t have to leave my son within moments of him getting up in the morning, and not seeing him again till past 5pm in the afternoon. It means I have time in the morning to do my morning yoga, meditation, exercise and writing, all the things I need to do to help my ADHD brain prepare for the day.

So while I love being in the company of others through my working day for company, connection and accountability, as well as the creative energy that exists when people are together, working at home, as I have been since the beginning of March, really suits me and my life.

But I do have the hurdle of my ADHD brain to overcome.


Thanks to the enthusiasm and negotiation skills of my real life super hero and mentor Tracy Otsuka, members of her ADHD for SmartAss Women Facebook group were gifted 3 free months of Focusmate. I didn’t know what it was, but I love a bargain, and I had also come to respect Tracy enough to know that if she recommended it, it was worth checking out.

3 months and (at the time of writing) 265 sessions later, and it is safe to say that I am impressed. So much so that as soon as I had the email to say that my free subscription was over, I immediately handed over my FIVE DOLLARS and set up my monthly subscription.

This is the most useful $5 I will spend each month.

Focusmate has been such a gift during the last few months.

I have it used it for

  • housework (epic Saturday night cleaning frenzies, when I start with a messy house, and end with a beautifully tidy and clean (to my standards at least) home
  • violin practice
  • cutting the grass
  • data entry
  • data sorting, collection and cleaning
  • writing project proposals
  • anything else I need to do in work
  • daily writing
  • exercise
  • meditation
  • yoga
  • reading (I actually read over 70 pages of a book on a session, this hasn’t happened for years!)
  • online courses (including Tracy’s course which has also transformed my life!)
  • cooking
  • personal and business admin
  • …. and I am sure there are more, but you get the drift.

Focusmate is a wonderful service that makes use of the fact that accountability and knowing there is someone there really helps to keep us focused. You start each session by greeting your partner, and sharing what your goals are for the session. You then work away, and reconnect at the end to share how the session went.

I have achieved more in the time that I have been using focusmate than I could have done in half the time without it.

It isn’t just about the sharing of goals and accountability, not for me at least. Part of what I have enjoyed has been connecting with people from all over the world, exchanging often brief, sometimes more lengthy conversations with them, developing real connection and friendships in some cases. Being part of a group of ADHD women does mean that there is often a lot more chat than focusmate recommends, but I thrive on that, it actually motivates me more if there is some real connection and conversation at the start.

Focusmate has been a lifeline during the pandemic months. It has not only helped me with my productivity, but it has also helped me to feel less isolated and unhappy. Knowing that there are so many people around the world I can connect with, and savouring each moment of the times we connect, has been invaluable in keeping me afloat emotionally as I struggled with lockdown isolation.

And I am not the only one who has experienced powerful benefits to using Focusmate. Rachel Elliott, a fellow member of Tracy’s Facebook group, has experienced powerful transformation, and has created a life she never thought possible, all thanks to Focusmate. She credits Focusmate with being the only reason she has been able to pursue her dream of study, such is the difference it has made to her ability to achieve her goals. She was a guest on Tracy’s podcast, ADHD for Smart Ass Women, you can listen to the episode here. Prepare to be amazed at the transformation that Focusmate helped Rachel achieve.

Whether you have ADHD or not, I highly recommend Focusmate. There are a lot of ADHDers in the community, but not everyone is. There are people on there doing PhD study, writing novels, running companies and so much more. Focusmate is a powerful tool to support you in the achievement of your goals, and it is totally worth giving it a try.

You can get 3 free sessions every week, or for unlimited sessions, you can subscribe for the cost of a cup of coffee each month — all it costs for accountability, connection, support and motivation is $5. Worth every penny in my book! There is a super supportive community Facebook group, and any bad behaviour is dealt with swiftly, with tools you can control to block and report people who don’t play nice.

Do you use Focusmate? I’d love to hear about your experiences with it.

Originally published at on July 31, 2020.

Kickass copywriter helping strength focused ADHD coaches empower their clients to the brilliance they were born for

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