For the past four months, I have been playing the game of progress with two of life’s other players. Daily, we hold each other accountable to our top three self-selected tasks that need to take priority on our to-do lists that day. Like the bells, whistles and scoreboards of video games, we check off, text, email and virtual high-five each other throughout the day with status updates and when tasks are complete. Without my accountability partner, this post would have never been written.
Every morning begins with a list. Every day ends with a status update on the list. So far, the exercise has served to keep me productive, focused and consistent. While the top three exercise isn’t our full list of things to be tackled each day, selecting three things a day has focused us on the most important things to be accomplished. Our priorities change depending on the day. Sometimes it’s a work project, sometimes it’s exercise and at times one of the three priorities is rest. Using this method of accountability has made us not only productive, but also more knowledgeable and aware of how much time it takes to do routine tasks revealing areas where we can streamline, cut back and/or shift focus.
If this sounds like something you need in your life, I’ll warn you that finding the right player can be more serendipity than strategic selection process. While the obvious choices may be to select your partner (business or personal), a close friend or relative, I caution you to reconsider. The best part of this daily accountability is that you get to fill your daily list with what’s most important to YOU. Partnering with someone who wants to “fill your list” with ‘honey dos’ and other obligations that you are well aware of, defeats the purpose and will quickly lead to an abandonment of the process and probably a “discussion” of where they can stick their priorities for you.
To avoid that unnecessary exchange, I recommend that you be on the lookout for someone with these three qualities to start.
- Goal alignment. Find a partner with similar goals for mutual commitment.
- Technology savvy. There are so many ways that technology can make this process easy, I would shy away from someone who wants to have a phone call with you every morning and evening to recap the day.
- Desires discipline. Pairing with someone who desires discipline vs. detests it will put your accountability processes on a solid foundation. This system doesn’t work with one player.
- Mutual respect. Respect is a huge part of this process. Though there is no judgment when something on the list doesn’t get done (things happen), my partners and I respect each other’s time and do our best to be accountable to not only the process but what we say we’re going to do every day.
Connecting to the right accountability partner will likely be an organic process. Someone you meet at a business event that you hit it off with and share similar goals. A co-worker (that you don’t necessarily work with day-to-day) who is driven in a similar way and would like the extra support. Regardless of who ends up on your accountability team, I think you’ll find that the daily check-ins and mutual encouragement provide good fuel for high energy and low energy moments and make the daily grind a lot more fun.