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The #1 ADHD podcast on iTunes, hosted by

The Get Stuff Done Episode w/ Focusmate Founder Taylor Jacobson

by Faster Than Normal

Taylor Jacobson is the founder of Focusmate ( a remote coworking community where people get things done, together. He’s a trained executive coach with clients like Yale, Cornell, and Wharton, a wannabe adventurer, and a recovering pizza addict turned holistic health aspirant. He’s been featured in The New Yorker, CNN, The Guardian, BBC, and more. Today we talk about, unscheduled downtime, accountability, our zone(s) of focus, anxiety, and how we Get Sh*t Done.  Enjoy!


In this episode Peter & Taylor discuss:

   :40  –  Intro and welcome Focusmate founder Taylor Jacobson  [Thank you to Lisa Marks for introducing us!]

2:46  –  On Focusmate – what it is,  how and why you created it.

5:08  –  Did you find this type of focus tool was something you needed, and was that why you created it?

9:02    On societal (go-go-go) mentality and how Focusmate taps into the concept of accountability without being overbearing, hitting the sweet spot of good middle-ground

12:56  –  On sense of pride upon completion of a project/reward, and for Focusmate’s repeat customers, how it becomes a lifestyle tool to stay organized and accountable

14:46 –  On Focusmate session completion and the positivity that goes along with it

15:02    On advantageous results from frequent use of Focusmate sessions

16:00    On the concept of scheduling, and it’s vital importance for people with ADD/ADHD 

18:01  –  How do people find you and learn more and reach out to you?  @TaylorJascobson on Twitter or LinkedIN   People can head over to to sign up. Follow them on twitter @Focusmate 

For subscribers of this podcast! You can sign up and enter coupon code:  FTN  for your FREE month of Focusmate Turbo! 

19:15    Thank you Taylor! And thank YOU for subscribing, reviewing and listening. Your reviews are working! Even if you’ve reviewed us before, would you please write even a short one for this episode? Each review that you post helps to ensure that word will continue to spread, and that we will all be able to reach & help more people! You can always reach me via [email protected] or @petershankman on all of the socials. You can also find us at @FasterThanNormal on all of the socials. As always, leave us a comment below and please drop us a review on iTunes and of course, subscribe to the podcast if you haven’t already! As you know, the more reviews we get, the more people we can reach. Help us to show the world that ADHD is a gift, not a curse! Do you know of anyone you think should be on the FTN podcast? Shoot us a note, we’d love to hear!

19:38    [Hey thanks a bunch Peter! It’s true @stevenbyrom is totally looking for more work]


20:44-  Faster Than Normal Podcast info & credits


Hey, Hey, what’s up everyone.?Happy, happy day. Hope you’re having a wonderful day, my name is Peter Shankman and you are listening to another episode of Faster Than Normal. We believe that ADD, ADHD, anything in the neurodiverse world, can be a gift, if you know how to use it.   That doesn’t mean we don’t have problems, it doesn’t mean we don’t want to throw things against the wall alot of times it doesn’t mean our brains aren’t incredibly weird creatures that seem to have their own wants and desires, no matter what we try to do, that all still exists, but we don’t believe that neuro-diversity is as bad as for instance, the people on Reddit make it out to be. I personally think that neuro-diversity is pretty cool. So I want to welcome you to another episode. I’m glad you’re here.  Again, my name is Peter Shankman.  I am joined today by Taylor Jacobs. We’re going to call this the “Get Shit Done,” episode or GSD episode, and we’re going to talk to Taylor Jacobson, who founded a company called  Focusmate is a remote co-working community and we’ll let him tell you all about that, but I love the idea, shout out to my friend, Lisa Marks, who I’m pretty sure Lisa introduced us, am I right? Yeah. Shout out to Lisa Marshall, who I also found out it was just, she gets some sort of a, I’m totally going to screw this up, she got some sort of award today. She was listed as one of the, I don’t know, some designer to watch or something,  I don’t know, she sends me texts all the time and I read them and then I kind of forget about them, but I do want to congratulate her on winning some sort of, uh, Women in Design Leadership Committee and Advisory Council there, I looked up the text.

Congratulations, Lisa, and thank you for turning me on tyo Taylor. Taylor has, is a trained executive coach. He has clients like, yeah, Cornell, Wharton. He’s a wanna be adventure and he calls himself a recovering pizza addict, turned holistic health aspitant.  I hate every single one of those words, dude. I am, I am I, you don’t recover from pizza, pizza gets you. And it’s just, it just, is, so we’re going to talk about that. It’s all bullshit. There has no, no not okay. He’s been in the , , ,  and more.   Taylor, welcome to Faster Than  Normal. 

Thank you, Peter. 

I am thrilled to have you. I love the concept of Focusmate. Tell us before you, I mean, tell us a little about what it is that… I want to find out how you created it, because it seems like something that everyone needs beyond all conceivable belief.  So tell us, tell us about, tell us about it and then tell us about why you created it.  

Yeah, so we’ll give a quick overview of what it actually is. So we, we call it virtual co-working, but, but basically you and a, motivating buddy, an accountability buddy, get on a 50 minute video call where you hold each other accountable and you keep each other company while you each work on your own stuff, your own projects.  Um, so, you know, our, our, our application online. It’s, you know, you basically schedule anytime you want to get work done, you just book an appointment. There’s people available all over the world, 24/7.  Um, and you get matched up with somebody awesome, and when your appointment starts, you greet each other and really in like a minute or less, you share what you are planning to work on, and you might write it down in the chat to be a little extra accountable, and then you just get to work.  Most people mute themselves. Um, and your partner is there. You can see them. Um, I, for instance, I’ll put my partner on a second screen so I can see them while I’m working on my main screen, and you just do your work and you might update each other.  “Hey, I just finished you know,  my first task. I wrote my to-do list and now I’m moving on to outlining this blog post.”  And, but you’re not talking, you’re um, you’re just sitting there quietly working sort of side by side, if you will. And at the end of the 50 minutes, a bell goes off, um, and you come back to say hi to your partner again, and just say, “hey, how’d it go?”  And you have this moment of reflection and it’s not meant to be punitive or anything like that.  It’s really just checking in and, and, um, and hopefully celebrating a little before you go on your respective way. And, and, you know, we do 50 minutes. That’s the only format we offer at the moment, um, but one of the nice things about it is a lot of people do Focusmate sessions back to back. Um, so it sort of builds, builds in a….break. You can go get a snack or whatever, and then get back to it. So I’ll leave it there, but that is what Focusmate is, in a nutshell.

I love the concept. I mean, I, first of all, I imagine, I imagine the person on the second screen, sort of watching it from above like, “Oh, look, God’s here.” I love the concept, you know, for, for a lot, because I run a mastermind and, and it’s, I’ve…. I’ve stopped calling the mastermind of late and started calling it an accountability group because that’s really what it is.  No guys, I need to make sure that I do “X” – someone make sure by Thursday that a… bug me on Thursday that I’ve done “Y” right?  and I love the concept of doing it in real time. That is, that is brilliant. Um, what did you, was it something that you found that you needed and that’s why you started it? 

Yeah. Yeah.  So, absolutely, yes, um, you know, I started working remotely 10 years ago and, and I had a job at the time and, uh, you know, my, my commute got really far, so I basically begged my boss to let me work from home and overnight I went from being, I think, a pretty high performer to just absolutely useless, really, really struggling.  I just, and I, and I,  I didn’t, you know, I didn’t quote/unquote get fired, but it was about as close to getting fired, you know, as you can get, I was shown the door very gently, thankfully, but, um, you know, it just shows you, I couldn’t cope with the lack of structure, um, of, you know, I didn’t have a place to, I didn’t, I didn’t have to take a shower in the morning and put real people clothes on,  and be somewhere at a certain time. And, um, so the lack of structure and that just the lack of having people who could look over my shoulder and see if I was on, uh, on Facebook or just, just the thought that somebody could take a look and see if I was working, and, and so I really, really struggled and I, I did not figure it out for a really long time. And that, that struggle, it really thrust me into, you know, first it was shame and then depression, and then it just, you know, thankfully it really lit a fire under me to delve into the study of productivity and, and behavior change and, and all these things.  But I just experimented with everything that I could find and, and, a few years ago I was talking to… this is while I was executive coaching, which that, that whole career was really born out of this struggle of like, oh my goodness, it’s so hard to just be who I want to be, uh, to do what I want to do. Um, I was talking to a friend who was also working from home and, and, you know, we were intimate enough friends, that we were just being very vulnerable with each other, and, um, it was in fact him that was procrastinating worse than me at the moment. But, um, I just sort of had this spur of the moment, you know what I’m going to tell my  friend, Jake was his name, I’m going to tell him like my dark fantasy of what I’d really like, what I’d really like, you know, in terms of a support structure.  And honestly, I felt kind of silly and a bit ashamed telling him about it, cause I, you know, we just have all these narratives about, kind of how we  you know, is it the sort of fierce, you know, rugged individualism of American culture and, um, all the language that we use around productivity, which basically likens us to machines and all this stuff.  So anyways, I was like, you know, Jake, here’s my fantasy. I want to get on a video call and I want to, I want to tell, you know, to break this stuff down into specific tasks and, and, and just keep each other company and check in on each other, so Jake was down for that. And so he and I did the first quote/unquote Focusmate session about five years ago now, and you know, it just, both of us had tried everything under the sun, and then we had this, just magic moment where like,  “Oh my gosh, this really works!”  Uh, and you know, it just clicked like, Oh, there’s gotta be millions of people who aren’t so different from us that would really benefit from this same technique.

No question about it. And you know, what, what I find interesting, uh, I think the most is about it, is that, um, you know, we are a society that… and you said it yourself, we thrive on that whole, oh, we have to work, we have to work, we have to work, you know, and, and, and I’ve always been of the opinion that we’re killing ourselves, you know, we have these, of these, um, you have these, uh,  I hate the term called  “gurus” right?… on Instagram, um, specifically one who has a three-letter last name who talks about, you know, make sure you’re hustling, you’re gonna be hustling. And if you have nine hours, you know, if you have 24 hours a day and 18 of them are working and you know, you’ll leave to see your kid for 30 minutes and just make them dinner and put them to sleep, but it works the more, you know, sleep 20 minutes, like, what are you doing? you’re telling  people to kill themselves, you know? And so the, the premise of, of having to always be on is a, is definitely a societal thing, right? It affects us in America, it affects a lot of Asia. Um, hell the UK has it, they have it nailed down!  right,  OK, we’ve worked a week, time for six weeks off! But,, but on the flip side of that and what I love so much about what you’ve built, is that when I sit down to work, it’s time to work, right?  I might not work 20 hours a day, I don’t work 20 hours a day, right?  I try to strive… strive for that, I used to… I strive for that balance now, but when I sit down, it’s like, okay, go  go, go and for me, the worst thing that has happened over this past year, and I think this episode is going to air about two months from now, but, but the, the… we are talking, we are having this conversation, you and I, on the Monday of the, of the one year anniversary of when everything shut down, right? This is the week that everything truly went to hell right?  A year ago with Covid, and for me, uh, my work, work place was on an airplane, and to no longer have that, to have that just taken away from me, you know, was, was brutally difficult. And so I think that something like this, even though it’s not my preferred workplace, which is up in the air, you know, put me on a plane, 14 hours to Tokyo, and I’ll write you a book, but, but which I’ve done like four times, but the, um, knowing that someone is there, to keep an eye on me without being sort of overbearing. I think you might have tapped into that perfect middle ground there. 

Yeah. You know, it’s not so different from the, you know, sit on an airplane for 14 hours. It’s, it’s a shorter time duration than that. But, um, yeah, it really, it goes back into this idea of like, you know, we’re not machines, and so what is a support structure that just works for us. And, and, and I, I love the philosophy that you talked about in introducing your show about. You know that our neurodiversity can be our gifts. And, and I think the can be… is for me, is about, do we really embrace them? Do we really lean into them and just celebrate them and just say, okay, well, like how much can I learn about how this thing works so that I can tap into the awesomeness that’s actually, um, You know, it’s, it’s two sides of the same coin. So for me, yeah, Focusmate is not about grinding ourselves into submission more, it’s… it’s about just saying, Hey, this is how we are, and if we embrace that, um, you know, what’s going to work for us and this, you know, you could talk if you’re interested, uh, we can dive into maybe why that’s the case, but it’s just a support structure that, that clicks for, you know, human beings, the way that we are. Um, and yeah, like you alluded to, it has this awesome side effect of yeah, when you’re on you’re on, and then like, there’s nothing better than getting to the end of your last Focusmate session of the day and being like, all right, I’m done. And you know, for me, and for so many of our users, it really creates that like finitude, and sort of a celebratory finish line where it really empowers you to be switched off when you’re off too. 

I think that there’s, there’s also the aspect of it when you’re done and you’ve completed it, there’s a sense of pride, and studies have shown that pride… sense of pride, where you do something and you get it and you nail it, actually leads to dopamine,  leads to dopamine,  leads to adrenaline leads to serotonin, and so it could be a wonderful feedback loop in that regard. Okay. I know I’m going to work for four hours now and I’m excited about that, cause I know where I’m going, I know what my reward… then we get the mental reward and the stimulus reward going to at the end of this, which starts the process or even earlier.  So like, okay, let’s sit down and do this. And I know that again, I, I linked back to the plane. When I get on that plane, I’m excited to work, right? I’m excited to take off, here’s my Diet Coke, OK, let’s rock this. You know, and there’s that, there’s that, uh, I think that, you know, normal people have, um, more normal ways of getting excited, but for me, this works, you know, but, but it it’s, it’s the thing that, okay, let’s do this, let’s get this done.  That’s, that’s a, that’s a wonderful feeling. So I would assume that I would assume you have pretty high retention. I’m assuming that people who… who use you, tend to come back. 

Oh, a hundred percent, yeah. It really becomes like a lifestyle. Um, yeah, I was just looking at some, some tweets, uh, in preparation for this of, of, you know, ADHD years who, who use Focusmate,  and, um, yeah, you know, people just, uh, it’s like, I use this every day to start my day. All right. You know, I do two sessions a day every day, um, yeah, cause it just, I don’t know, for me, it’s like the metaphor I use, is it’s like getting in an inner tube and floating down the lazy river as a way of getting things done, and, you know, if you have the right environment, it’s really easy, you just float to your destination, hopefully. Um, so that’s kinda how it feels. Um, I think it’s, you know, book…. book some  Focusmate  sessions when you want to be getting stuff done, and you can almost like relax into that, and know that you’re going to get where you want to get to. 

It’s actually an interesting concept, because I look at it as the other thing, you know, you’re, you’re when you’re, when you’re on, you’re on and you compared it to the lazy river, I get that, I mean, I get that you’re just going to get your…. I think the end result…. what you’re trying to, you’re going to get there, right?

Yeah. I think both metaphors, both metaphors are true in a way. 

Yeah. I love that. Now tell me, um, when you, how often are you on it? I’d be like, do you use it? Do you use it religiously as well? Now that, you know, I know when I was, when I was running my company, it’s like, you know, I started it, because I needed it and then, you know, you’re, you’re running it and it doesn’t help as much, or you’re like, “Oh God, I have to do this now.”  But yeah, I could see that. It’s still, I’m guessing it’s still pretty useful. 

Yeah. Well, you know I’m  like in my job, I find that I have a lot of meetings and I have stuff like this, and yet I obviously want to get things done as well, and, um, you know, you can block us time to do deep, you know, so-called deep work, but nothing works for me the way that, um, actually booking a Focusmate appointment and saying this time is sacred. Um, so there’s a few days a week,and, and at least a few hours every day, where I just block off time for Focusmate co-working and that, you know, and then I, and I schedule my meetings around that. So it actually really, really helps, um, yeah. 

I find that, um, when you have, uh, the scheduling, the concept of scheduling is, is without question the ultimate, um, sort of necessity for anyone with ADHD. If you’re not scheduling things, if you’re not putting things like for instance, one of the, one of the things about COVID is that, you know, I can give two keynotes, maybe I was giving five keynotes a month, um, before COVID hit, I was on a plane all the time. Now I can get five keynotes in two days. Um, you know, I can do one in Tokyo at 7:00 AM and one in Bangkok at, at, at 9:00 AM, and, um, you know, then I’m home and I haven’t left my apartment, right?  Which leaves a lot of free time, and when your ADHD free time is kind of the kiss of death, right? Unscheduled downtime is… is kind of the kiss of death because, you know, scheduled downtimes is OK,, I’m gonna play with my daughter, I’m gonna go outside, I’m gonna go swimming, I’m gonna work out whatever, but unscheduled downtime as, you get it, I have an hour to kill, and nothing to do.  Maybe I’ll start a company, maybe I’ll try that. You know, it’s like, there’s no, there’s no middle ground there, right? It’s all or nothing. Um, when, when, when, when you’re, when you’re ADHD, and so I would imagine that unscheduled downtime could be perfect for, OK, you know what? I’m going to work on that thing I’ve been putting off and I’m gonna, I’m going to do a Focusmate session to do it. 

Yeah, I actually, I really relate, like I feel anxiety when I see unscheduled downtime, like, Oh, for sure. I’m going to screw that up. Like go way off the rails, and I’m going to alternately nap and eat pizza and watch TV and, you know, wake up, two days later. 

What is your, I have to ask, what is your, uh, what is your go-to, uh, OK, I just finished it and now I’m going to start again, uh, series on Netflix or Hulu, or whatever it is.  

You know, I don’t, I don’t, I haven’t yet repeated any series. 

Really? Yeah, OK I mean, I watch a lot of new stuff on the bike. I don’t allow myself to watch new series, if I’m not on the bike because otherwise I just won’t ever work. I’ll like, just that’ll be my entire day, but when I’m, when I have some time to kill and I just want to lay on the couch and not think about things, I tend to go back to King of the Hill a lot. 


It’s a classic, but, uh, so tell us, so, so how can, um, people can head over to, and they can just sign up. I see that, that you’re given that you get three free sessions a week. 

Yes. We actually have a free plan that is forever free, no credit card. You can use it on the free plan indefinitely. Um, and our paid plan is to have unlimited sessions, uh, and that’s currently $5 per month. Um, so, yeah love to, you know, have anyone who’s interested, just give it a shot. Um, let us know what you think.  

Guys, I can tell you that, that, um, you know, I don’t often recommend products on podcasts, but we will link to it. It is Focusmate, it is one of those things that it’s just, it’s such a no-brainer to use. It makes such perfect sense for people like us, because it’s literally exactly the kind of stuff that we have to deal with, and this is an answer, a solution for that, so strongly recommend it. Uh, I can’t thank you enough for coming on the podcast. This was truly phenomenal, Taylor. I really appreciate it. How can people find you? Are you, are you on the socials? Where are you where people can impart more of your wisdom? 

Yeah, I am, um, you can find me on Twitter or My Twitter is Um, so yeah, love to connect with folks, uh, on the socials. 

 Awesome, awesome, Taylor, thank you so much for taking the time. We want to know what you want to hear. Uh, do you have a guest that you think might be awesome? Could you be as cool as Lisa Marks and recommend someone as cool as Taylor to come on the podcast? Let me know, shoot me an email. [email protected] or @petershankman on all the socials or @FasterNormal  We would love to hear your suggestions for who we should have on, um, wanting to give a shout out to Steven Byrom, who is our wonderful producer, who makes me sound good, which isn’t necessarily the easiest thing in the world because as I’m interviewing people, I’m also doing a million other things. And so he gets rid of all that background noise, all of all the stuff you don’t hear. Chances are, I’m doing construction right now and you won’t hear it! Because we have an amazing producer named Steven Byrom @stevenbyrom on Twitter . {thank you Peter}  If you need a Producer, I know he’s looking for more work. [Always! Reels, library samples and resume at]

Um, thank you, Steven and Taylor again. Thank you guys. We’ll be back next week and we hope to see you. Then. My name is Peter Shankman. This is Faster Than Normal! ADHD and all neurodiversity is a gift, not a curse, we’ll see you soon! 

Credits: You’ve been listening to the Faster Than Normal podcast. We’re available on iTunes, Stitcher and Google play and of course at I’m your host, Peter Shankman and you can find me at and @petershankman on all of the socials. If you like what you’ve heard, why not head over to your favorite podcast platform of choice and leave us a review, come more people who leave positive reviews, the more the podcast has shown, and the more people we can help understand that ADHD is a gift, not a curse. Opening and closing themes were composed and produced by Steven Byrom who also produces this podcast, and the opening introduction was recorded by Bernie Wagenblast. Thank you so much for listening. We’ll see you next week. 

1 Comment

  1. Graham Howard

    Hi Peter. A good friend of mine with ADD recommended Focusmate to me and I ended up here. Enjoyed the podcast. I don’t have ADD but I did watch Upload 11 times. LOL. Trouble was I found sooooo many continuity errors it kind of spoiled it for me. Great show though.



  1. Press & Mentions - Focusmate Blog - […] The Get Stuff Done Episode w/ Focusmate Founder Taylor Jacobson | Faster Than Normal Podcast, March 31, 2021 […]

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