Accountability 101: Systems that Keep You on Task
I often hear that the one thing people want in their business is accountability. However, I think that by “accountability” they could mean a few different things. In this post, I want to break down the different types of accountability to hold yourself accountable in your business.
When we think of accountability in terms of governments, it’s about transparency and recourse for actions not handled properly. In business it’s a little bit different. When we think about accountability it means that when we say we’re going to do something or that we want something to happen, it actually ends up happening. That’s what accountability means to us.
We want our most important goals to happen in our business, right? I would love for us to do more of what matters and more of what is impactful in our lives and our businesses. So, let’s break out some of the tools that we can use and ways that we can think of accountability.
What Is Self-Accountability?
There are so many tools that we can use to keep track of our accountability. There are planners, notebooks, apps—you name it. Ultimately, at the end of the day the most important thing to know about self-accountability is that when you say you’ll get something done, you need to actually accomplish it. Self-accountability is the one and only way we will actually achieve the goals that we have for ourselves.
When we say that we are going to do something, it means that it’s important to us. We need to spend enough time and energy making that a priority and clearing the clutter away so that we can actually get it achieved—and out into the world!
We want it to be a deliverable.
Creating a plan for a project and giving yourself enough time to accomplish each of the things you want to do is really important. It’s a matter of self-discipline. You need to commit to what matters right now and put your energy into it. Self-accountability isn’t necessarily a tool, but it is a way that we get things accomplished.
In terms of tools, there are endless options. Different things might work for different people, so don’t get too caught up in what works for someone else if it doesn’t work for you. If you’re waiting for the perfect tool to arrive, you’re actually going to hurt yourself in the process of trying to find perfect accountability. There is no such thing.
Organizational Tools: Trello, Asana
These are project management tools that you can use. Some people fall into one tool while others prefer the other, but it really doesn’t matter. Just pick one that you think will work for you—and your team, if you have one—and dive into it.
Trello is a great way to visually organize and be able to see how things are broken down in a timeline. However, the same thing goes for Asana. You’re able to create a timeline, delegate and delineate when things are supposed to happen. Make sure that the people who are responsible for a project know to get it done! This is a really important part of how to manage a bigger project with multiple people.
Even if it’s just you and you’re a solopreneur, by laying out the project in all its pieces, you’ll be able to stay accountable for each bit—rather than trying to tackle it as a whole. For example, if your goal is to develop a website, you’re not going to get it done in a day! It’ll help you break down your project into smaller pieces and allow you to assign them to a schedule.
Other People Who Will Hold You Accountable
For instance, if I’m your coach and you tell me you’re going to get something done—you sure as heck better get it done because there are going to be consequences! Right? It’s not like you’re going to get in trouble but if you are paying somebody to hold you accountable to a goal that you have, it’s really important to be able to say that either, yes, you got it done or no, and this is the reason why.
Is there an excuse good enough that’s going to suffice for your sake? It’s not about the coach, necessarily. It’s about you and saying, “This was something that was important to me and I put something else as a priority.” To have to explain that to somebody might be an incentive enough for you to get it done.
The same goes for a Mastermind. A Mastermind is another group of people that will hold you accountable to a goal that you set for yourself. They’ll be there to ask you why you didn’t get it done or why you moved the deadline. Having to answer to them can be a total motivator—especially for people who are motivated by external forces.
Also, if you have a Business Bestie or somebody who you check in with every other week, that can be helpful too. Just having someone that you have to explain yourself to is a great way of holding yourself accountable. By the same token, if you have a team, your team members are such a great way to stay accountable, too! Whenever I have a project due—especially blog posts or content creation—my team members hold me to a standard and remind me that I said I was going to get something done. Sometimes it doesn’t always get done before deadline, but life happens.
It definitely does help to have other people who are saying, “This was something that was important to you and you told me to check in with you about it. Here is your reminder.”
When we’re setting external accountability partners or structures, it motivates us to not lose face. We will say that we’re going to get something done and work harder to hold ourselves accountable for that.
Speaking of others who can keep you accountable….Your clients can also be a great form of accountability. Saying that you’re going to get something done by Friday and knowing that someone is paying you—that’s accountability! Being able to deliver on the time that you agreed upon is incredibly important. If you know that you are somebody that pushes deadlines, I’d set due dates for yourself that give you a cushion (for example, setting your deadline for the 15th when the project is due on the 30th). You never know what might happen! And sometimes it’s just nice to have a bit of flexibility.
What we don’t want to do is set our deadlines, say we’re going to get something done, and then be working until the very last moment. Murphy’s Law says that’s when time will shrink! You want to make sure that you’re giving yourself enough time, enough leeway and the kind of accountability that you need to get something done—and done well.
This is something that I constantly do in my business. I will put notes in my calendar, use the Reminder App in my iPhone, and make little notes elsewhere, too. My calendar is like my bible. I stick to it as much as I can and put most of my appointments in there and just remind myself of what I need to get done.
For example, as I was thinking about writing this post, I had notes in my calendar not just for one blog post but for an entire day of content creation. So, I left room for what the content was going to be but I gave myself the time to work on it and get it sent over to my team.
Goal Setting Tools
I love my inkWELL Press LiveWELL planner and I also use a tool called The Weekly Kickstart—which I’ve talked about in other posts. These are definitely things that I use on a weekly basis for my goal setting and check-ins. I also use PowerSheets, which can be used for reflection as well as accountability. It’s something that I use monthly.
Some things I like to ask myself:
- I said I was going to get this done, but did it actually get done?
- What kind of progress am I making?
- What are the kinds of people that I’m grateful for?
- What are the weekly, monthly and daily things that I’m doing to move forward?
There are other tools like these ones that you can use too. Lisa Jacobs does one called Your Best Year. These are tools that are really powerful for us to keep track of our progress, make sure that our goals are front and centre and that we’re taking action on them.
Finally, I also use just regular notebooks. I love Levenger’s Circa notebooks. I take them everywhere with me! If I can document all my thoughts in one place rather than having twenty-five different notebooks, it really helps me keep everything organized.
Those are the kinds of tools and accountability that I use in my world and in my business. I try to stay on top of things as much as I can so that I’m continuing to make progress on the most important goals.
There are so many things that just pop up in life. I definitely leave room for improvisation or collaborations—which are the fun ‘extras’ in my business! But for the most part, the things that are high-priority for me are constantly being tailored to my life. I’m saying yes to the right things and saying no to the opportunities that seem cool but are really just distractions.
Honestly, the things that are most important need to stay the most important so I can make the kind of impact and live the kind of life that I want to be living. I hope that it’s the same for you too!