Procrastination, lack of motivation, a straight-up inability to achieve anything – sound familiar? Procrastination is a huge problem for us, whether we’re freelancers, entrepreneurs, or just regular employees.
While distractions certainly don’t help, the issue seems to be that we’re lacking in accountability. Especially when you work for yourself, there is no supervisor or boss to keep you in check, so procrastination can take over pretty comfortably. Thankfully, there are ways to improve self-accountability, or even introduce external accountability to help you increase productivity.
How you can improve accountability
- Set a clear goal, task, or workload
In order to be able to hold yourself accountable, there needs to be a clear and specific task to accomplish. If you leave things unclear or unstructured, it’s difficult to hold yourself accountable, because there’s nothing to keep track of.
So, instead of setting a vague or general goal like “do some work”, or “improve productivity”, why not try to set goals that give you something specific to do, such as “reply to 15 emails from 10 am to 2 pm”? That is much easier to track.
- Give yourself the best conditions for success
If you’re looking to improve accountability, you need to get serious about your tasks and giving yourself the best conditions to achieve them and hold yourself accountable. That means setting a timeline for your tasks and making sure that you can actually accomplish them in the time you have. Otherwise, you’re just setting yourself up for failure by giving yourself unrealistic goals.
To improve accountability and make it easier, try your best to implement the S.M.A.R.T. technique and set goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. That will make it easier to keep track of them.
- Eliminate distractions
Now that you’ve set some goals in a realistic manner, it’s time to work on your environment and general work style. You’ll have a much easier time focusing on work and what you need to accomplish if you take care of everything that stands in your way.
Make sure that you turn your phone off, log out of social media, and if needed, turn your internet off. You’ll be amazed at how much you can get done when you’re not being distracted every five minutes.
How to have more accountability
- Establish a positive reinforcement system
A reward system can work beautifully to motivate you to get things done, no matter how difficult it is. The reward should always fit the task, so if you have small chores to do, like admin tasks and never-ending emails of low importance, you can set up a minor reward, like a coffee break, some fresh air, etc.
For longer, more complex, and more important tasks, the reward can be substantial: something nice you can buy yourself, an exotic vacation, an experience you’ve always wanted to have, etc. Anything that you think will motivate you and help you hold yourself accountable is great.
- Establish a negative reinforcement system
While some people work well with positive reinforcement, for others, it’s negative reinforcement that does the job. We’re not talking about anything drastic or any major punishment; more like taking away privileges, just like your parents did when you were a teenager.
For example, let’s say you missed your deadline and now you’ve got to hold yourself accountable, so you’re not allowing yourself that Netflix binge session tonight. Make it sting just enough so that you’ll be more motivated to finish next time.
- Work with a buddy
If you’re the type of person who just can’t find motivation and accountability within themselves, then it’s time to go looking for external motivation or accountability. By far, an accountability buddy is your best solution, because it’s a win-win: you are keeping them accountable, and yourself, by extension, and they are keeping you accountable, and themselves, by extension.
For this to work, you need to communicate with them constantly; you have to set up the goal and the timeline, so your accountability buddy has something specific to track and hold you accountable for.
- Get an accountability coach
A lot of people aren’t aware, but there are actual services that hold you accountable. That’s right – no matter what you’re struggling with, a coach will be there to help you organize yourself, give you helpful tips, and hold you accountable to ensure you are getting everything done on time. Here are some of the best accountability coaches on the market:
- Commit Action
The best of the best is Commit Action, and that’s because of the special amount of care they put into their approach with clients. Everything is tailor-made for you, and they take care of everything, from scheduling to task organization and calendar synching. Plus, you’ll be held accountable through regular calls, to boost your productivity.
- CBT Nuggets
Collaboration is what CBT Nuggets focuses on, as a company looking to help you improve your accountability. They will work closely with you to make sure that you are getting exactly the kind of help you want and need, to get your work done.
- Andrew Griffiths
The main advantage Andrew Griffiths brings to the table is the fact that his services come in a variety of packages, depending on what your needs are. So, for example, you can pick from a one-time project package, a longer-term 3-month package, a 6-month one, etc.
Self-accountability is not always easy to put into practice, so some help is always welcome. There are plenty of ways to improve your accountability – from things you can do on your own, to using an accountability partner and even a professional accountability coach.
Whatever path you choose, make sure that it’s something that helps you stay on track and curb procrastination, in order to increase productivity. Whether you’re working on a one-time, major project, or trying to set up a regular schedule for long-term work, there are solutions to help you out and increase accountability.