Staying accountable when working from home is one of the big challenges. There is no boss in the same room, no colleagues keeping tabs on you. The beauty of being left to your own devices also means you need to find it within yourself to follow through on your goals.
If you want to help keep yourself on track, maintain discipline, establish good habits and achieve those goals you set yourself, you need to become accountable.
What is being accountable?
It’s a word often referred to in business and there are various definitions of it, mostly around the premise of taking responsibility.
It goes a bit further than this.
The crucial part of being accountable is to be seen to take ownership of and make a commitment to fulfil your obligations.
If you are accountable, you are the one answerable for your actions and the steps taken to ensure your duties are performed correctly.
It can suddenly all sound really serious and perhaps even a little daunting.
Being accountable can have consequences, like being held accountable for something that went wrong, but day to day, it’s about holding yourself accountable to do the tasks required to keep your business going.
So what does it look like and how can you stay accountable when working from home?
- Setting goals
- Defining a time frame in which to achieve them
- Outlining the actions needed to be taken
- Completing the actions
It is why at The Homeworker we have a few methods you can try to help you keep momentum, form productive habits and hit those targets!
The four Ds
This method is what I use for helping me get things done, especially when time is tight.
DECIDE: List out what you need to do and prioritise the tasks or projects that are most important. Decide on your top one to three to commit to.
DEFINE: Once you know what you’ve got to do, set out the steps needed to complete them. Make these actionable so you have a clear direction.
DEADLINE: With a set timeline, you can feel more motivated to keep going and it helps you not to lose focus.
DECLARE: Telling somebody what you’re doing and by when forces you to commit. It’s a powerful way to keep accountable when working from home. You can use communities for this sort of thing, as well as business mentors or friends.
Here are further tools that can help with staying accountable when working from home. They help make accountability just part of your daily routine!
This method comes courtesy of advice from the one and only Jerry Seinfeld (the co-creator and writer of the sitcom, Seinfeld ) Yes, this guy knows a thing or two about staying accountable and achieving.
Seinfeld shared his secrets to staying on top of his goals with software developer and now goal-setting guru, Brad Isaac, when years ago as an aspiring comic, Isaac bumped into Seinfeld during an open-mic comedy night.
It’s a system which Seinfeld used to keep him motivated to write and come up with new material each day.
His method to sustain productivity can work for everyone, no matter the task in hand. In fact, his simple system can be used for small business tasks such as working on a website or writing some copy, to a longer-term project such as writing a novel or developing an app.
It can work for personal goals such as daily fitness, healthy eating, or getting enough sleep. There are so many scenarios where this method could be useful, whatever the nature of your business or lifestyle, this can be applied.
It’s a calendar system whereby you put a simple cross in the day’s box every time you fulfil your daily task.
Put the calendar somewhere prominent and you suddenly have a personal motivator staring down at you from your wall. It will become your own challenge and once you have a few days or weeks crossed off then you will not want to break that chain of crosses.
All you need to do is come up with the task or amount of time you want to commit to.
As a first step to being accountable for taking action and achieving goals, this is not only effective but it is also really feasible. It’s easy to implement and costs you nothing bar some paper and ink – why not get creative and design something that looks fun on the fridge or your desk?!
What if losing money was the consequence to not achieving your goals?
We are more likely to keep to our commitments when the stakes are high and this is the premise behind the free commitment platform, StikK.
StikK uses a two-pronged approach: getting you to put your money on the line – and your reputation. It involves you assigning a referee to report on your success or failure. Should you fail in your commitment then you lose your predetermined stake.
As you are required to sign a contract that you will complete or achieve certain goals, then the pressure is on, and let’s face it, who likes losing money?
This method can again be used for a multitude of situations from quitting cigarettes or alcohol to more business-oriented tasks.
You choose the goal and the time-frame, Stikk just puts a little pressure on to help you get there!
Being part of a community can help provide the support and encouragement to keep you motivated and accountable when working from home.
It helps to feel less alone and it’s a place where you can publicly declare your goals, as mentioned previously.
Once your goal is out there, once somebody else knows what you’re aiming for and when you plan to do it by, the goal feels real and there is suddenly more of an urgency behind it.
Within our Facebook Homeworker Community we do this each week.
Each Monday, we will ask you to set out your weekly goal. Then it is there, written down and with a bunch of witnesses! Taking the plunge to get honest about your intentions forces you to commit and rather than being something to fear, it can lead to some really positive interactions. It invites others to share their goals and an opportunity to help and offer support and tips if you’ve experienced similar things.