Over the last few weeks we have been talking about procrastination and increasing our productivity. But even the most productive of people can struggle without having someone or something to hold them accountable. And the ability to create accountability can be particularly difficult when you work from home.
There are many benefits to a home office. There’s no doubting that. And even more of us than usual have experienced them during the recent lockdown. But it can have its downsides too. The temptation to follow distractions, together with a lack of discipline, can lead to huge procrastination and not getting enough done. Ultimately, there is a lack of accountability when we work from home as there’s no one there to be committed to.
So, how can you create accountability when you’re working from home (and boost productivity while you’re at it)? Here are our top tips:
1. Have a plan of working hours and start early
Think about when you’re most productive, and start with a plan of what your working hours will be. Just because you’re working from home, it doesn’t have to feel drifty. Choose your start time. And if possible, start earlier in the morning, as many of us are more productive at the beginning of the day. Commit to getting your head down during the parts of the day where you feel most productive. Also, Decide when you’ll finish each day. Sometimes it’s easier to stay accountable when you have clear boundaries. Knowing when you can switch off each day and have a break can help with that motivation and allow you to feel a sense of freedom too.
2. Get up and get dressed
Treat your day at home as though you’re going to the office. We know it’s hugely tempting to kick back and relax in your PJs as (potentially!) no one will see you. But it’s really counter productive and not at all great for creating accountability. You want to feel in work mode, and getting dressed is a sure fire way to get there.
3. Work in a designated space
As with getting up and getting dressed, it’s equally important to be working in a space set up for it. Balancing your laptop on your knees in bed or on the sofa might seem appealing, but it’s not great for really getting things done. Relaxing on your bed or sofa will make you feel less like you’re working and more likely to let yourself off the hook.
4. Limit distractions
What are the biggest distractions for you? Social media? Talking to friends? Doing the laundry? Emptying the dishwasher? We all have different things that trigger us to be distracted. And when they kick in, we lose our accountability. Work out what yours are and then work out how to avoid them. Set times when you will work without distraction and then reward yourself with those things you want to do, in your breaks.
5. Have social interaction
You might be working at home but you don’t have to be alone all the time. It’s ok to speak to other people, and in fact, it’s good for you. Again, choose when to do this rather than letting it interrupt you when you’re in flow. You can even set up a daytime date with a friend for a catch up over lunch or coffee – in person or virtual. The stimulation of social interaction can really help you re-commit to your work afterwards .
6. Set your goals and know where you’re going so you have structure
Drifting does not help you create accountability. If you haven’t decided what it is you’re working towards you will find it incredibly hard to stay accountable as you have neither direction nor goals. Instead, set your goals, do your planning, know what you’re working towards.
7. Grow your network
If you’re working on your own, you need to get out there and meet other business owners. This doesn’t have to be daunting and scary, and as long as you don’t think of it as ‘selling’, it won’t be. Instead, think about networking as meeting new people and building relationships, because that’s what it is. And through meeting those people, you may also boost your accountability as you discover new connections who can help your goals. Whether that’s through the services they offer, the people they know, or just through conversation and mutual understanding.
We are huge fans of coworking. Working on your own is lonely, and it’s so easy to let yourself off the hook and not get things done. With coworking, you work together with others either in person, or online, and you commit to what you want to get done at the beginning of the session. This automatically creates accountability. You’re committed. And it really works!
9. Change locations when possible
Sometimes you just need a change of scene. It’s really important to tune into yourself and work out what your behaviours are telling you. I know if I have a day where I lack accountability and allow myself to be repeatedly distracted by things at home, I need the buzz of a coffee shop and everything going on there to bring my attention back to my work. So if you’re struggling at the moment when it comes to creating and gaining accountability, try changing location. Where would work for you?
Finally, our biggest and most useful tip for helping you to create accountability is definitely to tell someone else what you’re working on. Being accountable only to yourself is difficult. Committing to someone else just raises the stakes! This is also a key part of everything we do at Tabono and we encourage both our mentoring clients and community members to vocalise, and commit to their goals on a regular basis.
Accountability is the glue that bonds commitment to results.Will Craig, Living the Hero’s Journey