I first heard of the idea of accountability partners a year and a half ago at the LDStorymaker conference. Annette Lyon and Luisa Perkins taught a class on accountability partners (and wrote a book about it). I was unable to attend the class, but heard about it afterward and in the following year had several friends tell me that it had helped with their productivity levels.
Then this past LDStorymaker conference, I had a friend approach me about being accountability partners. I agreed to give it a three month trial to see if it worked for me. I was worried it would be too structured and too much pressure (same way I used to think about outlines) but I was wrong. It turned out that the structure and planning increased my productivity in ways that I hadn’t foreseen.
Here’s the format me and my current accountability partner use:
1. We email each other the night before our lists for the next day. It looks something like this:
Subject: MONDAY LIST
· Exercise 30 minutes
· Write 3000 words in WIP
· Read at least 2 chapters in book club book
· Return 10 emails
· MAKE DINNER (new recipe?)
· Laundry/dishes/straighten up downstairs
· Volunteer in kids’ classroom
· Read with kids for 20 minutes
So it’s a list of goals and tasks for the next day, which I love because it gets me thinking about what I need to get done the next day (and reminds me of things like doctor’s appointments and volunteer commitments.)
2. Throughout the day, we text each other as we accomplish our goals. The AP will respond with some sort of affirmation like “YAY!” “Way to go!” or a super cool fireworks emoticon. It feels weird at first, but you get used to it in a day or two, and then you look forward to it.
3. At the end of the day, you re-email your partner the list from the night before, saying what you did and didn’t get done, and why you didn’t get the task done. It will look something like this:
Subject: MONDAY LIST
· Exercise 30 minutes—YES. Ran 3 miles!
· Write 3000 words in WIP—YES! 3,700 words!!!!
· Read at least 2 chapters in book club book—No. I ended up taking one of the kids to the doctor, so no reading time.
· Return 10 emails—NO—the doctor’s appointment took two hours. 5 emails, though, and they were the hard ones.
· MAKE DINNER (new recipe?)—YES. Pecan crusted chicken. SO GOOD.
· Laundry/dishes/straighten up downstairs—YES.
· Volunteer in kids’ classroom—YES. They are adorable.
· Read with kids for 20 minutes—YES. Harry Potter.
4. Upon getting your AP’s evaluation email for the day, respond back with thoughtful comments and words of affirmation. You are showing them that you support them and are in their corner.
5. Make your list for the next day. You can refer to your previous list and build on that, or you can reprioritize tasks, and decide maybe sending those next five emails isn’t something you really want to take on.
6. Repeat Monday through Friday. We take the weekend off because we want the freedom of not planning on those days, but the nice thing about this is that it’s flexible, so you decide with your accountability partner what works best for you.
I’ve noticed my productivity increase, not only because I have someone rooting for me, but also because I’m making a plan for my day and prioritized my time instead of starting my day with little direction.
While doing this, I was able to revise a book and write an entire novel (80K) in six weeks. My inbox is cleaned out. I’ve read the book club book every month since I started doing this. And I haven’t forgotten any appointments or obligations for that day. I’ve also tried out new recipes and carved out quality time with my kids. I feel less stressed in my day, and more accomplished. I’m completely converted.
So grab a willing friend and jump into a trial run of being accountability partners, and see what it can do for your days!