High Performance Productivity: The Accountability Hack

productivity Jan 15, 2020

Did you know that you're 65% more likely to achieve a goal if you use some form of accountability than if you don't?  It's not really that surprising when you think about it.  How scary is it to miss a goal you've told precisely no one about?  How much pressure is there to hit a goal that nobody even knows exist?  Those performing at the highest levels aren't afraid of sharing their goals, because sharing is a secret weapon that helps them accomplish those goals.

Use Deadlines to Your Advantage

When we were younger and in school, deadlines might have been something we dreaded that were imposed on us by someone else in charge.  But if we want to achieve goals, we'll set our own deadlines for ourselves because we know the power it gives.  Deadlines

  • reduce procrastination.  It's easy to put something off that is vaguely "in the future."  It's much harder to put off something with a definitive due date.
  • give you a timeline.  Once you've set that definitive due date, you can work backwards to give yourself milestones to achieve in order to accomplish the task on time.
  • give you a structure.  It's no longer some vague but challenging task awaiting you.
  • lead to more productivity.  When you get organized with how and when one task needs to be accomplished, you necessarily want to do that with others in your queue.
  • give focus.  A deadline really focuses the mind.  By giving yourself something specific and measurable to go after, your mind clears a path to accomplishing that task.

It's important to make sure that the deadlines you give yourself are reasonable.  If you've procrastinated too long and you're not going to hit a deadline for a client, even if you really push yourself, it makes a lot more sense to ask for an extension and prepare a client for the fact that something may not be on time, than to try to reach an unreasonable goal.  By setting an unreasonable goal you've destroyed the very advantage of a deadline in the first place: credibility.  If your mind can accept that something can be done in a specific amount of time you're already halfway to achieving it.

Ask Others for Help

The most productive people know it's not weakness to ask for help.  In fact, it's often a secret weapon to help achieve goals.  There are several ways to leverage the deadlines you set to guarantee you will hit them on time.

  1. Phone a friend.  Have an accountability partner or coach hold you to the deadlines you set.  If you don't hit the deadline, you'll have the unpleasant task of explaining to them how you didn't hit your own deadline.
  2. Go to the team.  You can use either work colleagues or a circle of friends to keep you accountable.  This turns up the heat from just being accountable to one person.
  3. Go public.  This might be the bravest of all: using social media, like facebook or twitter, to be accountable to acquaintances and strangers.

You'll often be surprised how many people not only want to help you, but are excited to be part of your process of achieving goals.  It will often activate this desire in themselves in ways you may never learn about.

Deadlines + Accountability = High Performance Productivity

It's also important to be the person you want in your life.  If someone asks you to help them be accountable, hold them to the standard you would hold yourself to, and that they want you to hold them to.  Don't "go easy" on them - that's not really going to help.  Sometimes love needs to be tough, and often that tough love gets results.  It isn't easy, but it is simple: set deadlines, ask for accountability for those deadlines, achieve goals, repeat.


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