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  • Ian Cohen

Stop procrastinating - get your work done! Get yourself an 'accountability partner'!

Let’s face it, we all came into this lockdown with all guns blazing – and the inspirational quotes along the lines of …”I’m going to use this time to run more, tidy the garage, get on top of those work projects that have been dogging me for ages , etc, etc”– BUT now reality is settling in, we are here for the long haul and you are not getting as much stuff done as you would like.

The answer is an 'accountability partner' - an ally in keeping yourself on track and accountable for the myriad jobs you need to get done, primarily work related. This concept is not new and comes from our personal development and leadership programs. Now is the right time to share it again.

And, in thinking that seems counter-intuitive - it is MUCH better if they are NOT in your workplace or even in your profession or your class…and I’ll tell you the reason why in a moment

This is about keeping yourself and your 'accountability partner' (AP) on track and beating the stats that indicate every year about half of us FAIL in our resolutions each New Year’s Eve or at any other time - make this one a priority, and the rest will fall into place.

It’s a simple process, and one that will keep you engaged if you stay the course!

  1. Each night email, Facetime, skype, text, phone ( it doesn't matter how!) and explain to your AP the FIVE things you need to get done tomorrow – do this before dinner at the end of the day.

  2. Then when you start the day tomorrow, sign on with them again and re-iterate those things.

  3. And by the end of the day you have to explain to your AP why you did or didn’t get them done – assignments, projects, time lines, submissions, planning documents whatever – and then explain to him/her in 30 seconds why you had to get it done and why that’s important (this is key in growing the ownership of the execution)

So, no more excuses - you need someone who is part cheerleader, part coach…brutal and caring at same time…and I promise you, if you build a great habit of contact and progress you will love having someone in your life you have to answer to.

Now, the critical first step......choose well!!!

Your AP needs to be someone who knows you well – robust and honest – accountable.

At school your teacher was your accountability partner by default – now you have your big boy/big girl pants on you need to find someone who can look you in the eye and ask why it wasn’t done - you need to find someone safe and reliable, as we all work in isolation - a mix between a drill sergeant and a laid-back hippy who is happy to let a few things slide.

IMPORTANT - Choose someone from outside your school, university, industry, workplace – but someone who knows you well and will hold you accountable.

REASON - you need a clean skin you can confide in, because maybe your work colleagues have got political or aspirational restrictions or conflicts and you don't want to open up totally…. what happens if one of your aims this week is looking for a new job.

We want NO awkwardness nor judgements, 'only results count' - it doesn't matter how.


  • Make your commitment to a designated time – if might be a 9am text or phone call and a 5.30pm Zoom at the end of the day – the time doesn’t matter - consistency does – enough stagnation and procrastination – make a time every day! Stick to it and form good habits.

  • When you account for yourself actually explain what it was that you did and why – helps you consolidate the task or project, and your AP will get to know a bit about what you do – also, and added benefit or positive by-product, they may even give you a left field solution to an issue or some food for thought from another angle.

  • Be time restrictive, be harsh but realistic (what would your boss/manager/share holders expect!) – not by the end of the month far far away, but by the end of today or the week – break your tasks down and explain to your AP why you have done that

  • Share images and pictures of what you have done, show them that report, absolutely own it- and if you are the AP then ask questions about it. Inspire and inquire.

  • Use a spreadsheet or google doc that you can share and maybe even discuss what you want to achieve on a daily basis and a weekly basis but no longer than that - put it in writing with dates and expectations. Make it real.

  • You can amend your tasks, but don’t allow yourself to talk yourself out of it – that’s where your AP can keep you on track….you and they need to be flexible, we know some things slide but you need to be honest as well.

  • Agree on rewards – if you get something done in allotted time then enjoy that glass of bubbly together on-line, or keep a list of new rewards, a fresh set of golf clubs, a night out at the movies or meeting at a sports event once this is over - you decide, but get some 'feel good' factor about getting things done.

  • Maybe choose someone local who you can actually get together with after all this is over – and who knows, you may create a habit that lasts a lifetime and you commit face-to-face every now and again or catch up for a coffee.

Remember it is NOT about judgment, it is about holding your AP to account and vice-versa, executing what you want to do or need to do.

If you use one, then leave me a comment or some advice we can all share - thanks.

And a closing thought - in all the rush to return to a 'normal' life, maybe use this enforced downtime to work out which components of that 'normal' life are worth rushing back to… might surprise yourself.

Stay safe and healthy – subscribe for more tips and tricks.

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