Maintaining your productivity can feel like a solitary endeavor – just you and your task list or calendar.
While time management is more appropriately described as self-management, you don’t need to do it alone. One of the best ways to manage yourself is to develop productivity systems that involve other people, such as accountability partners.
Humans crave connection. Whether you are an introvert or extrovert, the right person helping hold you accountable to your goals and tasks is a gift to your life and a boon for your productivity. There’s no ability like accountability.
Here are some tips for working with an accountability partner.
Choose someone who:
- Has different skill sets than you
- Has a different (but complementary) personality
- Is available for meetings at the same times you are
- Has their own goals for the partnership to which they wish to be held accountable
- You can trust to keep confidences
Once you find a likely candidate, schedule three meetings with the following agendas:
- Agree up front that you are both in a trial period for the partnership and that either person can withdraw after the third meeting with no hard feelings.
- Get to know each other (if you don’t already).
- Share your overall vision, ground rules, and hopes for the partnership.
- Your homework is to do the exercise on this post. It will help you find the gaps between where you are and where you want to be.
- Share your gaps with each other from the homework. Discuss your ratings in each area.
- Select one or two of your biggest gaps. These are the areas in which you will set specific goals.
- Your homework is to write specific, challenging goals to bring to the next meeting. For fun, consider doing your goal setting in the form of a mind map.
- Share your goals (mind maps) with each other. Make sure to specify “The Why” you want to achieve each goal.
- Give feedback to each other. Are the goals measurable, appropriately challenging, and attainable in a reasonable timeframe?
- Help each other break down goals into specific plans.
- Decide if the partnership will continue. If so, schedule subsequent meetings.
Every accountability partner meeting should include a review of goal-related progress and honest feedback.
To keep the partnership fresh and fun, I recommend having one “special topic” per meeting.
Here are some suggestions from my blog:
- Personality tests
- Goal revision or abandonment
- Procrastination reduction
- Life balance
- FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)
- The law of the hammer
- Executive function skills
Does this sound good to you? Forward this email to someone who may be a good accountability partner.
The Role of Vulnerability with an Accountability Partner
The purpose of an accountability partnership is not to impress each other. You have enough impression management in the rest of your life and work.
Each accountability partner must come to the relationship raw and vulnerable. The partnership should be a safe space.
It should also be a conduit for growth and development. Translation: Do not get into patterns of enabling your partner’s unproductive behaviors.
NOTE: In my flagship seminar, The ROI of Time Management, accountability partners are established as part of the curriculum. This two-hour seminar is available via live webinar or in person. Please contact me for details.
Are you ready to get serious about doing the right things AND doing things right?
Check out my eBook Corral Your To-Dos: and don’t rely on your brain – at all.
Melissa Gratias (pronounced “Gracious”) used to think that productivity was a result of working long hours. And, she worked a lot of hours. Then, she learned that productivity is a skill set, not a personality trait. Now, Melissa is a productivity expert who coaches and trains other businesspeople to be more focused, balanced, and effective. She is a prolific writer and speaker who travels the world helping people change how they work and improve how they live. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 912-417-2505. Sign up to receive her productivity tips via email.