Being Accountable to Yourself

If you’re like me, you have trouble getting things done that no one but yourself is waiting for. After a little introspection, I’ve discovered several reasons why I don't keep myself accountable:

  • I forget what I had previously committed to do.
  • The task is so big, I don’t know where to start.
  • The value of completing the task is uncertain (i.e., like making an investment with an unknown return)
  • The pain of doing the task seems to be bigger than the pain of not getting it done right now.

And my solution:

  • Write down every commitment I make to others and myself in a journal and include a clear statement of the short-term and long-term benefit of getting it done.
  • Create a Gotta Do List with the one to three things that are most important to complete each day.
  • Create a To Do List with everything else and have no guilt if I don’t get everything done.
  • Make sure that no individual action item takes more than 60 minutes to complete. If it does, break it down into chunks that can get done in less than an hour.
  • Post my Gotta Do List where others will see them and then ask others to ask me how I’m doing on them.
  • Work on top priorities first thing in the morning when I’m fresh and less likely to be interrupted.
  • Give myself a reward once I get all three of my Gotta Dos done.

You’re solution probably won’t be the same as mine, but if you ask yourself Why? enough times, you’re likely to get the the root of what is holding you back and then create a solution that works for you.