Virtual Co-working is one of my productivity secrets — here’s how I set it up.

One of my productivity secrets is “virtual co-working”.

(It’s only a “secret” in that most people haven’t tried it!)

This is where I arrange with someone to meet online for an hour, and during that time, each of us will work on our own projects. We don’t try to understand each other’s work. We simply show up and commit to do focus on our own work during that session.

It is strangely effective. If you haven’t yet, I highly recommend trying it.

Especially if you find yourself easily distracted, or procrastinating on an important project, using virtual co-working can help you make real progress.

Here’s how I arrange my virtual co-working sessions:

1. Go to www.Focusmate.com — sign up and schedule one or more sessions there.

2. Be sure to add a reminder for yourself, e.g. add it to your own calendar or set an alarm for yourself. Show up on time. It’s acceptable on Focusmate to be late for only up to 3 minutes.

3. Say “hello” to your partner (verbally or through chat) and briefly mention what you’ll be working on. Don’t explain anything; just give them a concise 1–3 line description of your project — it’s more to help your own focus, not to help your partner to understand your work. Expect them to also briefly mention what they’re working on.

4. Rearrange your browser windows so that you can always see your partner and the chat box, while being able to work on your projects. To see how I do this, watch my video starting at 2:45:

5. You may want to also set a timer for yourself, to stay focused. I like the #PomodoroMethod of working in 25-minute chunks (with a 5-minute break in between). An online free timer is www.Tomato-Timer.com or if you want a more flexible timer, try www.Timer-Tab.com which is also free. I make sure to rearrange my timer window so that it’s visible all the time. See my video for how I do this.

I almost never “work alone” anymore. Whenever I’m not in a client meeting, I am often in a virtual co-working session. It makes a real difference for my productivity. I recommend giving it a try! Follow the steps above.

A client of mine, Liesel Teversham has a different way of doing virtual co-working that doesn’t require you to be on video the whole time. Check out her approach here:

Let me know how it works for you, or if you have any questions. Perhaps I’ll see you on Focusmate!