Accountability and Getting Shit Done

I have an accountability group on Facebook. Well, I say a group; it’s really just me and my friend Jill. We did have a couple more members, but one wasn’t on Facebook much, and the other had the audacity to go and have a baby, and even though I am a fan of accountability and efficiency, I think hassling the mother of a newborn about why she hasn’t done stuff is a little harsh.

The accountability group is great because one of the drawbacks of working on your own is that there is no one to notice or care how productive (or otherwise) you’re being. I don’t have a problem with getting on with my core business activities, like actual editing, because I have clients and I will not let them down. But making sure all the other stuff gets done, the training, the marketing, the admin – the stuff that nobody but me is counting on – that’s a little trickier.

So, every Monday (or thereabouts – one of the problems I have with freelance life is that I used to use my meeting schedule to keep track of what day it was, and now I never have a clue), Jill and I post our to-do lists in the group and encourage each other to do the things on it. That’s pretty much it – I’m sure there are much more effective and rigorous ways in which proper accountability groups should operate, but if we were better at being rigorous, maybe we wouldn’t need the accountability group – but since we’ve been doing this I’ve found it a whole lot easier to actually do the things I want to do.

It might seem silly – there’s only the two of us, and we live in different countries so it’s not like we can physically check that the other is doing what they’re supposed to – but it really does help me to put my goals out there, even if ‘out there’ is only to one other person. Seeing them written down, knowing someone else will know if I don’t achieve them, gives me that little bit of a push I need to make sure shit gets done. They’re very often not particularly big or important or even work-related things (Jill laughs at how often ‘Make granola’ is on my list), but that’s not the point. The point is to get into that mindset: decide what to do, tell someone you’re doing it, then just bloody do it.

It also forces me to think more carefully about the tasks on my list. I can have ‘Maybe look into training’ on my paper list for literally months, but I try to be more specific for the group (SMART targets, if we’re going to go all management-speak about it). So I have to break it down into chunks, and those chunks are much more manageable than that bigger, vaguer task: “Look into training” becomes “Today, look at the SfEP website to see what courses are available,” and “Tomorrow, decide on which course I should do” and “The next day, sign up and pay for course”, and before I know it I’ve actually started some training. And then I get to air how ridiculously proud of myself I am to someone who won’t think I’m pathetic. Or at least if she does, she would never tell me so, because she’s very lovely.

So, if you struggle with your motivation and the general daily struggle that is Getting Shit Done, I’d definitely recommend trying to find or create an accountability group. We may work on our own, but we don’t have to do everything alone.

And look, Jill, another thing ticked off this week’s list 😊

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