Focusmate: Tool for adults learning to write

Adults in remedial education classes or post-secondary programs (whether degree-granting or not) who sit and stare at their paper or computer screen without writing a single sentence might be helped to overcome their inertia by a new, free, on-line tool called Focusmate.

I suspect adult students who don’t have a support group of other learners also might find the Focusmate procedures helpful to keep them on task.

What Focusmate does is randomly match a user with a partner for a 50-minute, no-talking, no-wool-gathering, no goofing around work session streamed live to the co-worker.

To use Focusmate, a student would have to be at least 17 and have  a computer with a camera and microphone and an Internet connection to use for the sessions.

At the beginning of a session, each partner says hello, identifies their goal for the session, and goes to work. At the end of the session, they say goodbye. In between hello and goodbye they work.

The Focusmate community includes writers, freelancers, virtual workers, entrepreneurs, programmers, designers—people who need to accomplish work alone but need to be accountable to someone in order to be productive.

Both parties must work with their video on. Having the microphone on throughout each session is encouraged, but not required. Hearing someone else working boosts each individual’s productivity—who wants to be the lump who sits and does nothing?— and makes both of them feel accountable for producing during the session.

Just learning Focusmate’s community rules and tips for users would also be very useful for job-seekers in today’s market.

You might want to try Focusmate yourself over the summer. Four 50-minute sessions a week for six weeks could get you ready for fall with less stress than trying to cram everything into one week before opening day.