We've all been there. Armed with a to-do list a mile long and a pocket full of good intentions, you are determined to get it all done this week. You promise yourself that your project will be completed by Tuesday… Wednesday…or the weekend. Yet, as Sunday comes to a close and your project is no closer to being finished, you chalk it up to a loss and add it to next week's list. Lather, rinse, repeat.
You've tried bribing yourself with rewards: "As soon as I get this done, I'll take a break and grab a latte."
You've tried restrictions: "Okay, absolutely NO Facebook until this is complete!"
You've even tried the overzealous buckle-down method: "Tomorrow I'm going to be super productive and check all 20 things off my list!" Still no real progress.
The problem with this sort of system is that you are only accountable to yourself. In a traditional workplace there are supervisors, bosses, and co-workers to answer to. If you drop the ball, others are affected. As a one-woman shop owner, however, the responsibility falls solely on you and the consequences are usually yours alone to deal with.
In addition, not only are you missing the direction and ultimatums that come with having a boss, but you are also lacking the encouragement and support from colleagues that can be found in a traditional workplace.
What you need is a buddy! Setting up your own Buddy System doesn't have to be intimidating or tricky.
This sounds obvious, but finding someone you actually like and want to meet up with is essential. Remember: it doesn't have to be strictly business. While the cornerstone of the accountability meeting is goal-setting and business talk, it is important to allow yourself to get off-topic sometimes and chat about life, catch up on gossip, or just be silly with each other.
Of course we love working for ourselves, but at times it can be lonely. Part of the advantage of having a buddy is to simply get out of the house, enjoy the company of someone other than your cat, and decompress. As long as the majority of your meeting time is focused and structured, it's totally fine to relax and vent about other things.
The key to a great partnership is finding someone whose business has enough in common with yours to offer value without being so alike that it becomes competitive. For example, my buddy and I are both creative businesses owners. I am an illustrator and she is a photographer. We relate to each other well in that regard and we're able to share things that would be valuable to both of us like marketing opportunities, informative blog posts, and upcoming creative events. If we were both wedding photographers, however, we may find ourselves holding back information out of fear that the other person would out-do us or steal away potential clients. The point of this type of relationship is to share and support one another, not steal trade secrets and compete.
Other considerations from One Woman Shop:
- Does this person thrive in areas where you don't and vice versa?
- Does this person utilize and like the same forms of communication as you? For example, some people prefer email over the phone or the phone over Skype.
- Along the same lines, is this person responsive? There's nothing worse than an accountability buddy who drops off the face of the planet!
- Can this person be honest and straightforward without being overly harsh? On the flip side, can they accept feedback without getting defensive?
Stay tuned this week for more wisdom from Megan on setting up a great accountability system and advice on how to actually go about finding a buddy!
Latest posts by Megan Ball (see all)
- 7 Tips for Creating an Awesome Accountability System with Your Buddy - November 21, 2013
- Why You Need an Accountability Buddy- And How to Find the Right Fit - November 20, 2013