It’s Accountability Week here at One Woman Shop. Follow along with all of our posts about accountability, email us your questions and tips, and give #AccountabilityWeek some Twitter love!
You know how to choose a great accountability partner- but what about how to set up a great fail-proof system with your new accountability pal? Here are 7 ways to create an awesome accountability system:
Keep It Simple
As business owners we are faced with thousands of decisions everyday. When we have to think too much about something we often end up doing nothing at all. So, when it comes to these meetings, keep it simple! Pick a time, a place, and a frequency for your meetings and make it a standing meeting. "10 AM, at the Main Street Cafe, every other Tuesday" works so much better than a weekly chain of indecisive emails trying to narrow down a time and place that works for both parties. If something unavoidable comes up and the meeting has to be rescheduled that's fine, but try not to make a habit of rescheduling. Put it on the calendar and make it one less thing to think about.
Use a Buddy System Notebook
How many of us have a zillion lists, post-its, notebooks, and planners in use all at once at any given time? Assign one specific notebook or binder as your "Buddy System Binder" only. If you prefer to be all digital, make a notebook on Evernote titled "Buddy System" and use it every time. Keep notes from your meetings in here along with lists, goals, and topics you want to discuss. Having a special place for meeting-specific items makes it easier to find what you need when it's time to get down to business.
Use your Buddy System Notebook to make a list ahead of time of topics you'd like to cover at the next meeting. Add to your topics list in your notebook as ideas arise between meetings. This gives the meeting some structure and ensures that the meeting is productive. Without a list of topics, it is easy to get off-track, forget what you wanted to discuss, and then leave feeling even more lost than you began.
Set and Share Goals
This is the heart and soul of accountability meetings! At the end of each meeting list 3-5 goals in your notebook that you want to accomplish by the next time you meet. Make them specific ("I will write 3 new blog posts", as opposed to simply, "blog more") as well as attainable. Share them with one another and write the other person's goals in your notebook as well so that you can hold them accountable (it's a two-way street!).
Check In and Motivate
Make it a point to check-in with one another between meetings to remind each other to keep moving forward. This doesn't have to be formal or labor-intensive. It also doesn't have to be aggressive and is not intended to make the other person feel guilty. Just send a quick text saying, "How's that blog post coming?", or email each other as you check things off your list. Our competitive nature kicks in when we hear our partner say, "Three goals down, one to go!" and motivates us to follow suit.
Establish Rewards and Consequences
My buddy and I have a standing deal with regard to our goals: Whoever doesn't complete the goals on their to-do list is in charge of paying for coffee at our next meeting. If we both accomplish everything on our list, then we pay for ourselves. You can also try this clever trick of donating to an organization that you hate if you don't reach your goal.
You might also want to add a reward to the mix. For example, every week that you accomplish everything on your to-do list you add $5 to a jar to save up for a massage or treat yourself to a fancy new office product. Risks and rewards keep things interesting!
Find What Works
There is no set meeting structure that works for everyone. While my buddy and I meet at the same time and place every other week, perhaps that set-up wouldn't work for you. Maybe coffee shops aren't your style and you'd prefer to alternate meeting at each other's houses and trade off cooking dinner for the two of you. Perhaps your buddy is long-distance and you like to meet on Skype. Or, maybe you've found that meeting in a small group of five is more enjoyable than one-on-one.
You may start off meeting every week and then find that you are just too busy to fit it all in. In that case, you may want to taper off to biweekly or monthly meetings. Or, maybe over time you find that your personalities just aren't meshing anymore and you dread the meetings more than you look forward to them and decide to call it quits. All of these things are okay!
Accountability meetings can be extremely beneficial for your business and morale as long as you continue to be productive and enjoy them. As soon as they become a burden or are hindering more than helping your business, it's time to change things up or move on. Finding what works for you can take time, but once you find the right system, it's amazing how far a little teamwork can take you.