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How FocusMate helped me beat Parkinson’s law

On a call with a friend a few months ago, I shared a challenge I was facing:

“I get up really early but I’m not able to start work until after 11 am. My morning routine just seems to extend forever.”

He suggested that I closely track each morning task and the time it took me to complete them. Within a few days of doing this, I should clearly see the problem.

I tried it out. But I didn’t have the discipline to do it even for a few days.

And so, the problem remained.


It’s called Parkinson’s law – this condition where work tends to fill up the time available.

How do we counter it though?


“Focus on your strengths rather than your weaknesses”

Each of us has certain “good” traits. But we may not yet have figured out how to use them to achieve our goals faster.

For example, one of the things I do well is that I’m always on time for meetings. I don’t like making other people wait for me.

That doesn’t seem like a big deal, right? That’s what I thought as well.

Until I discovered FocusMate.


On FocusMate, you book a time slot to work with a random stranger. It’s a video call where you spend the first minute sharing your work goals for the session with each other. Then each of you “focuses” on your goals along with your “mate” until the session ends.

At the end of the session, you both share how much progress you made.

I love FocusMate for many reasons. One of them is how it’s helped me to start my workday earlier.


Here’s the hack I tried: Since my goal was to start workday my day early, I booked a recurring morning slot for 9:30 AM.

Since I’d already made a commitment (albeit to a stranger), and I don’t like making people wait on me (one of my “good” traits)..I started magically being at my work desk a few minutes before 9:30 AM.

You may have guessed how this “magic” happened. I stopped lingering around between my morning chores to check my phone for messages. I cut out things from my routine that weren’t really necessary. And I added a bit more energy and speed into everything.


Lessons from this so-far successful experiment:

Focus on your strengths. Each of us is more than we give ourselves credit for.
Figure out how to leverage your strengths better. If you look closely enough, there may be multiple ways in which you can make that happen
Keep refining your toolset. FocusMate wasn’t around even a few years ago. If I hadn’t actively looked for something like it, I wouldn’t have found it.

PS: I don’t have any business affiliation with Focusmate. I just love it so much, that I can’t stop talking or writing about it.

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