[If you prefer to read, the transcript of this episode is at the bottom of this page]
ABOUT THIS EPISODE
During the pandemic of 2020, I lost all framework for my day-to-day life which sparked a downward emotional spiral. In this episode I talk about the productivity tool that changed my perspective and restored balance in every area of my life.
WHAT YOU’LL LEARN
- What is Focusmate and How does it work?
- How much does Focusmate cost?
- How do you find co-working partners?
- How this tool transformed my pandemic-induced anxiety and depression
RESOURCES and LINKS
- GeorgeKao.com (Business coach where I learned about Focusmate)
- Myers-Briggs Wikipedia
- Myers-Briggs Personality Test
- Gretchen Rubin, The Four Tendencies Quiz
LIZ’S ESSENTIAL OIL RELAXATION BLEND
End-of-the-Day DIY Relaxation Blend Recipe (2% dilution)
- 1 oz (30 ml) Jojoba Wax
- 1 oz bottle
- 2 drops of Roman Chamomile – Chamaemelum nobile
- 3 drops of Geranium – Pelargonium graveolens
- 5 drops of Lavender – Lavandula angustifolia
- 2 drops of Lemon – Citrus limon
FURTHER YOUR KNOWLEGE
Essential Oils that Can Help with Focus and Concentration
(click on the essential oil to read a Fragrant Friday blog post that features that essential oil)
- Peppermint – Mentha x piperita
- Rosemary – Salvia rosmarinus
- Basil – Ocimum basilicum ct linalol
- Eucalyptus – Eucalyptus globulus
- Bay Laurel – Laurus nobilis
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The Productivity Tool the Changed My Life
Liz: This is the Aromatic Wisdom Podcast, episode 45, in case you're counting.
In today's episode, I'm going to talk about something a little different than my normal topics for this podcast. I'm going to talk to you about a tool that I discovered during the pandemic that really made a difference in my life in terms of keeping me productive, keeping me company and having me actually follow through and avoid procrastination.
Hello everyone, welcome to the podcast! My name is Liz Fulcher, The Voice of Aromatherapy, and I so appreciate your being here. It always blows me away that people listen to my podcast; and I love getting the emails and the comments that that you send indicating that the podcast is in some way been of value to you. Someone wrote that my voice put her to sleep which I took that as a compliment because I will often get on YouTube and listen to soft voices to help me sleep. So, if that's what this does for you, Awesome! I couldn't be happier.
All right. I want to talk about today's episode. I realized the title sort of click-baity so I'm just going to come straight out and tell you that what is a tool - it's actually a website - called Focusmate.com.
Before I go into details about this tool, I want to give you some backstory for context so you can understand why Focusmate had such a big impact on me.
On March 11th, 2020, the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a global pandemic, and two days later, on Friday, March 13th, the whole world around me just shut down. In one day, three key aspects of my life, and honestly, my stability and my mental health, all vanished.
First, I lost all sources of income, all sourceS of income, because I had two that were really my primary sources of revenue
First, I could no longer teach aromatherapy classes. I couldn't even schedule them. I could not do any Consultations.
Secondly, I could not practice Massage Therapy. Although my practice is not as big as it used to be, it's an extremely predictable form of income that I could schedule how many clients I want in a week then know exactly how much I'm going to earn. That was all gone. Luckily, my husband still had money coming in.
Next, apart from losing my sources of income, without the work I lost order and routine which is SO important to me. I didn't realize how important until it all stopped. So I had no reason to get up in the morning, so to speak.
I lost all connection to my humans - from my family to my students to my massage clients as well as the people that I engaged with throughout the day, not to mention going to stores and engaging with the public in that way. It all stopped. Now, of course, I still had my wonderful husband, so it wasn't in total isolation.
I need to say something at this point...
What I'm sharing is my personal experience, and I, in no way, wish to invalidate the utter devastation that so many experience with this pandemic. So please don't think that I am doing that. I'm just sharing what happened to me.
So in one day, I went from structure, routine, income, a sense of purpose to just living in a vacuum.
Honestly, for the first three weeks, it kind of almost felt like we were on vacation. It didn't feel like a "lockdown." After three weeks, James was called back to work. Apparently, construction is considered essential. So he was gone and that's when it got really bad because from April until July (I found focusmate in July) I felt completely lost. I wandered around the house, I ate, I napped. I really tried to get work done. To be specific, what I was trying to get done was on my online school.
At that point in time, the Aromatic Wisdom Institute online was only about a year old. I had my Hydrosols for Health course on there, but I am slow at producing things and I knew that if I wanted to keep earning, I was going to have to create more classes. Have you ever tried to be creative and inspired under pressure? Those are two diametrically opposed things, being creative and inspired plus pressure. Now, I have shared in past episodes about my challenges with mental health, and I can tell you that my anxiety was very, very high and I did begin to sink into a deep funk.
I think the worst part of all this was lack of structure. Even though I have always been in business for myself, I've had external factors in place that have kept me in alignment with what I'm doing next. Now, add to this mix that I got a splash of ADD - probably a very generous splash - plus I'm an ENFP creative if you know anything about the Myers-Briggs personality test and according to Gretchen Rubin's quiz called The Four Tendencies, I'm an Obliger. What all this means is that I have the personality that I need accountability to get stuff done. I need to refer to something outside of myself. And that's fine. I'm OK with that. It's really I tell you, awareness of yourself is really powerful. And when you all really understand how you operate and what you need to operate at your best, it is empowering.
So fast forward to July 2020 when I learned about Focusmate from a blogger that I follow who's name is George Kao. I heard George talk about how Focusmate changed his life, but I didn't pay much attention because I didn't quite understand what it was. Then he shared a video of him in a Focusmate session with someone and I could see how it worked and I was immediately intrigued. Once I had the visual, I said to myself, "oh yeah, I think this is what I need!"
This is how Focusmate works:
It's actually very simple. You go into the website and create an account. Once you have an account you have access to a weekly calendar. You decide when you would like to work. So, let's say you want to work on Tuesday at 10 am Eastern time or whatever time zone you're in. You schedule yourself for 10 am for a 50 minutes of work.
The computer will connect you with someone else who wants to work at 10:00 o'clock your time. So at about five minutes to 10 am, you log in, turn on your camera, turn on your microphone and you're ready to work. You have your work ready, in front of you. At 10:00, your partner will shows up. By the way, you don't know who you will be working with until 10 minutes before the session begins when you can see who you have been partnered with. You can click on their profile and read about them, who they are, if it's a man or a woman, where they live, what they're probably working on. I like to do that because it gives me a little heads up of what the person is probably going to be working on plus I like to know who will be working with.
If you prefer to work only with women, you can choose that, if you prefer to work with everyone, you can choose that. If you want just men, you can choose that. So it gives you a lot of range of the kind of people you'd like to work with. When we beginb we each have about a minute to declare what it is that we're working on. So I may say something like, "I'll be working on a blog post. I hope to get two paragraphs done in this session." and they may say something like, "I'm working on my PhD (there are a lot of Ph.D. candidates on Focusmate) and I need to finish a page." Most of the people that I've encountered are doing some kind of administrative work, something on the computer. They could be coders, they could be bloggers, they could be teachers. However, people also use Focusmate for exercising to clean their home, to garden, to do anything that they really need, sort of some support and accountability to get done.
So the first thing that appealed to me about Focusmate was working with live humans in real time. That fed my need for connection with people; to make it extra fun for me personally, people from all over the world! So I might work with someone from Montreal, and my next session might be someone from Bombay and the session after that I might be working with someone who is in Paris. I never know where my partner will be coming from.
So the first area of my life where Focusmate "fed" me was emotionally, by giving me connection and community.
The second area where Focusmate helped me I started to get into a routine. Now I have people that I know I'm going to work with. I know that I can set up my schedule for the day and people will be expecting me to show up and work. So I might schedule my first session around 9 am then take a break for lunch then around 2 pm I go back for another couple of hours. So I'm putting in anywhere from 4-6 sessions a day.
So now I've got some structure because I'm starting to build a framework around my day by filling in my morning and afternoon work schedule. In the morning I make James his lunch and he's out the door by 6 am. Then I do some meditation, I might exercise (I might not too 😉), have breakfast, brush my teeth - you know, do all the things that one does in the morning - all the time thinking, "I have first first Focusmate session at, say 8:00 am, and I need to be ready."
Then - and this is an important for me - I get DRESSED FOR WORK. I make sure my hair is combed, I put in earrings and put on a nice top. Below I might have on leggings or jeans but I make sure that I am presentable and "ready for work." This is an important line of demarcation between working and not working. So Once I sit down at my computer, I am emotionally and psychologically prepared. I have my day's work lined up and I start my sessions. I might work on blog posts, I might do scripting for my podcast I could be doing my taxes.
I start to mentally fade around 1 pm so I take a few hours break; then get a second wind around 3 pm. In between I will do housework, go outside, do errands or I might even take a nap. I come back in the afternoon and get a couple more hours of work in (with Focusmate) so by the time James comes home from work I am finished. Then we have dinner and our evening together.
So my day now has firm structure. The beauty of it, of course, is that I can change it if I want! If I suddenly feel like I don't want to start work until 10 am, I can do that; or, if I'm full of beans and have lots of ideas, I might begin my first session at 7 am. Personally, I need routine, structure, accountability and I need to show up and FM has given me all of that plus human connection.
People have asked me "what happens if you just don't feel like showing up. Can you do that?" Oh ney ney! Focusmate holds you accountable. If you are more than 2 minutes late for a session, you are penalized. If you are more than 2 minutes late more than 2 or 3 times, you are removed from the website and have to request to return. They take showing up and being on time very seriously. As a result, I take it seriously. I try to never be late. In fact, I usually show up for my sessions early. I'm chatting so I like to get there early so I can spend a few minutes saying hello to my partner.
It is no exaggeration to say that Focusmate has literally changed my life. There is hardly a day when I don't go on Focusmate. On the weekends, not as much but one Sunday I booked 3 hours and deep-cleaned my kitchen. If I'm going to do it, why not do it with company??
It has changed my life in that once again, I have routine and structure. I have a whole new way of containing my day that really works for me personally. I tweak it as I need to which appeals to my sense of independence and working for myself and yet having a system of accountability in place.
The cost? Incredibly affordable. The first three sessions are free. I do 4-6 sessions a day and for that I pay $5 USD for a month! That's a lot of sessions for very little money. If you are a person tends to procrastinate or have trouble with focus, if you need accountability, even if you want some company while you work, this co-working tool is fabulous. I really recommend that you give it a try. As I said, the first three sessions are free. If you find it isn't for you, then there's nothing lost.
How Does Focusmate Relate to Aromatherapy? Oh my word! You can do any kind of aromatherapy work while partnered on Focusmate. You can sit and do blending, you can fill bottles, you can fill order, you can write blog posts you can write classes; in other words, anything you do in your life as an Aromatherapist, you can do on Focusmate.
Smell my Life
Speaking of Aromatherapy.... I do believe it is time to Smell My Life!!
I made a brand new blend this week and I'm so proud of it because it smells great and was very effective for stress relief which was the purpose. I notice over the course of about three evenings that I was having a hard time relaxing toward the end of the day. I had a lot on my mind and my brain goes a mile a minute, so I decided to use it in the evening before bed but not right before going to bed. So I would put the blend on then brush my teeth and do a few other things to give it time to soak in and time for me to breathe it in.
The blend was floral which surprised me because I don't usually go for very floral blends as I like aromas that are woody or spicy. I sat down in front of my oils and pulled out about 10 bottles and was thinking I would probably blend with Vetiver or Spikenard or one of those earthy oils to slow me down and slow down my mind. But I ended up going with a very light floral blend because that's what my instincts were telling me.
I went with Roman Chamomile, Geranium, Lavender and Lemon. I will give you the recipe in the show notes and share it now too. I added the essential oils to Jojoba oil because my skin is very dry and really soaks it up. It's one of my favorite carriers because it has a very long, almost indefinite, shelf life and essential oils blend beautifully with it.
So I made this blend, put it in one ounce of Jojoba and applied it after my shower; about 20 minutes before getting into bed. I applied the blend to my upper body because I wanted to keep it up where I could smell it and to rub it into the areas where I was feeling the stress; specifically my shoulders, the back of my neck, jaw, forehead and even behind my ears a little bit. When I got into bed it smelled SO good - oh and I also put it on my chest so that when I layed down it would go up my nose... not go up my nose, but rather the aroma would WAFT up my nose! *laughing* When I layed down I took a lot of deep breathes, said some affirmations and did a little meditation and it really helped me to start to relax. The other benefit of putting the blend on where I could smell it was to remind me of the reason I was using it in the first place. It was a very effective combination of oils and relaxation techniques to get my mind to slow down. It's hard to get our mind to slow down. Our brain is always engaged, especially when we've been on the computer all day. The other thing that was nice that when I went to bed the second night of using the blend, I could smell it on my pillow smelled like the blend, so that was a plus.
End-of-the-Day Relaxation Blend (2% dilution is safe and effective for daily use)
1 oz (30 ml) Jojoba Wax
1 oz bottle
2 drops of Roman Chamomile - Chamaemelum nobile
3 drops of Geranium - Pelargonium graveolens
5 drops of Lavender - Lavandula angustifolia
2 drops of Lemon - Citrus limon (2 drops was enough to just lighten up the blend)
You are more than welcome to try that blend, and if you do, please let me know how you like it and if it is effective for your own stress relief.
And that my friends, as they say, it a wrap of Episode 45 The Productivity Tool that Changed My Life. And now you know why it changed my life! I really hope that if you have the same issues that I have struggled with like focus, procrastination, needing accountability, even if you just have "working from home loneliness," I really hope that you will give Focusmate a try.
Again, let me know how it works for you if you do.
You can write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and if you put "Ask Liz" in the subject line, I'll know it's from a podcast listener.
Until next week, please stay safe out there.
And as always....
Be Happy. Be Well.
©Liz Fulcher | AromaticWisdomInstitute.com
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