How to Make Accountability Work for You

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Strategy 2:  (from my Step-by-Step Business Blueprint) Get an accountability partner

Everyone, ADHD or not, works better when they are accountable, but ADHDers really need accountability. We just do. There’s something about beginning tasks, following through, transitioning from one task to another, prioritizing, and all of the other things that make you productive that get bogged down if you don’t have encouragement and someone to report to. You know you do better work when you’re accountable to someone, but when you own a business and you’re out there on your own, how do you you get that accountability?

Sure you could hire a coach, and if you do have a coach on an ongoing basis, congratulations, that’s wonderful accountability!

A coach can really light a fire under you and keep you on track. Just make sure your coach is holding you accountable for your business actions, ones that you agree to. This is what I do for my coaching clients.

Or, if you don’t have an ongoing coach who keeps you accountable, or if you need more ongoing support, get an accountability partner. Or several. There are a few ways to do this and make it work over the long run.

Two ways to get accountability partners

Here are my two favorite ways to get accountability partners (other than a paid coach):

1.) get a “true” accountability partner, where you find another business person who also needs support and accountability, and you fill this role for each other, or 

2.) “use” existing business partners to keep you accountable

1.) Another business person as a true accountability partner

This person doesn’t necessarily have to have ADHD, they just have to have an interest in moving forward faster in their business and in being more productive. Find someone who likes the idea of regularly meeting with you for mutual support and accountability.

This doesn’t have to take up a lot of time—the idea is to be more productive, not to find more things to do. I like the idea of virtual accountability buddies, where you can just check in by phone to make sure each of you is on track.

Rules for meeting with true accountability buddies

Here are some simple rules for meeting with your accountability buddy:

a.) Set a regular time to check in and a time limit for your meetings, and stick to them religiously—otherwise, things fall apart pretty fast.

b.) Have a list of agreed-upon questions you’ll ask each other or a checklist you’ll use to make sure each of you is making progress

c.) Don’t get involved in a lot of other chit chat. You’re there to work and get more productive, right? Chit chat is a sure way to get off track and be less productive.

It’s also great to set goals, give rewards, and be competitive with your buddy, so you’ll look forward to the check-ins to show how much you have accomplished.

Real-time accountability buddies

I also like the idea of “real time” accountability buddies, where you actually do your work together. I know of book-writing buddies who check in with a phone call at the beginning of their writing time to make sure they are each in front of their computers, set their timers for an agreed-upon time, start working, and then check back with another phone call at the end of their writing time. They are working “together” but separately on different projects, and their starting and stopping phone calls keep their time in between focused on the work. Neither wants to stop early because of her commitment to the other person.

Download the worksheet for this strategy and go through the instructions for finding and working with your accountability buddy. Following the guidelines on the worksheet, start with several names and narrow to one person you think will be a good fit. Then, follow the worksheet guidelines for your accountability meetings.

2.) “Using” existing business partners to keep you accountable

This is what I have always done, both when I had a larger business and now when I work alone. When I had my design business, my staff members were the main accountability partners I “used”. Because we met regularly anyway, every Monday morning and often additionally as needed to keep the company on track with client projects, this group was a great way to keep me on track. I also had a board of advisors, and I made myself accountable to them for how I ran my business. My business didn’t come with a board of advisors and it certainly wasn’t required—this is something I pulled together myself, to keep myself accountable, and I met in-person with them every quarter. I used them specifically for this purpose.

It would have been easier not to have any of these meetings. But I set them up on purpose so I could use them for my own accountability. These two kinds of accountability worked very well for me.

Now, as a solo business owner working virtually, I don’t have a staff and I don’t have a board of directors. But I seek out joint venture partners, I have people I work with for video and web, and even my accountant and financial planner, who I meet with regularly (at my suggestion, I don’t wait for them to contact me) to keep me accountable. I ask them to keep me accountable. When I am working with them, I ask them to tell me what they need from me, and I call regular meetings. Much of the time, what they need from me is simply my direction so they can do their work. Without these “partners” giving me “assignments” that I know they’re waiting for (even though the work is for me, and I’m paying them), and the regular meetings that I set up with them, it would be much more difficult for me to accomplish what I do. It’s all in the way you look at it, and looking at it this way works for me.

Go to the worksheet you downloaded and determine if any of your existing partners will work as accountability buddies for you.

*If you liked this strategy, you’ll love my Step-by-Step Business Blueprint. This is Strategy 2, from my 39 success strategies for business owners with ADHD.

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