Procrastination and Accountability: Putting My Own Tools To Use
“How’s your blog on procrastination?”, my husband chuckled. You see, I was going to have this finished last week, ahead of time, so I could relax and write with ease. But that wasn’t to be. This blog only came to be because of one thing, accountability. I procrastinated until I really, really couldn’t delay anymore. Today is the day my marketing partner and I decided this blog is going to be published. Today is the day that I finish the blog.
Setting up accountability is a strategy that we often use when procrastinating. By nature this is what a due date does for us. The pressure of something being due is often the nudge, or surge of stimulation that we need to get into action. Many of us rely so heavily on the accountability of a deadline that we end up in a cycle of procrastinating and wasting time followed by a huge push to get something done. This push can leave us feeling frustrated and exhausted. It also doesn’t leave time for mistakes and is often the point of criticism from others. Ugh.
If you’re going to attack your procrastination habit, then using accountability is absolutely one of the strategies you can use. If you have a deadline, but you’re still waiting until the very end to do the entire project, you can break the project into a few more pieces and set up accountability for each step of the way.
There are different levels of accountability that you can set. You can pick the right level of accountability depending on your circumstances. Here are some examples:
The Personal Deadline.
Use a personal deadline, preferably combined with scheduling time in your calendar, when you need a little structure to do something you like doing and that has a fair amount of stimulation associated with it. Perhaps you have crafts you’d like to give as gifts for Christmas. Set a personal goal to work on crafts one day a month in September, October and November. Block out time in your calendar and hold yourself accountable to work on your crafts. This will often work because the craft itself is stimulating.
The Regularly Scheduled Deadline.
There are some tasks that lend themselves to a scheduling deadline. Blogging weekly on a specific day is a great example of this. Train your readers to look for a new blog on a specific day and you will kill yourself to meet that goal. You can set up a structure and work with the general population to expect something of you.
The General Proclamation of Intent.
If you need a little accountability from your world of friends and family then announce to anyone who will listen that you’re working on a goal. Make your declaration pretty specific. Imagine that you wanted to get through Halloween without binging on mini candy bars. You could tell your household that you are not eating any chocolate until after Thanksgiving. If your house is like mine, there will not be a speck of chocolate left by Thanksgiving and you will be mocked openly if caught eating chocolate. Therefore, you are much less likely to binge on Halloween chocolate. The added pressure of accountability can carry you through.
Join a group.
For some goals there are already groups of people gathering to accomplish those goals. Join a group and have the accountability and structure to keep you moving in the right direction. For example, if you can’t get to the gym maybe you would be more likely to attend an exercise class or a basketball game that happens at a regularly scheduled time. If you’re trying to lose weight, join a group that has regular meetings and weigh-in.
Set goals with a partner.
One-on-one accountability with someone who isn’t a pushover has been the bedrock of accountability for me over the years. Schedule meetings with a goals partner (or a coach) in which you report on your progress towards your goals and set expectations for what you will have accomplished by your next meeting. Your responsibility to each other is to work on your goals and hold each other accountable. If you want to turn the heat up block off a chunk of time and work with a partner to check in every 30-90 minutes. There is zero space for procrastination if you’re going to be checking in after only 30 minutes!
You can use multiple sets of accountability together to increase the likelihood of success. When writing this blog I blew past my personal goal to have this written last week, even though I had made a public proclamation to my husband that I was going to be done. My husband mocked me, as he should, and it still didn’t work. What did work was having a schedule and a marketing partner that I am committed to. So, I’m happily sending this blog over to be published with the vague thought that you, out there, would miss me if I hadn’t written this week and the certainty that my marketing partner is expecting some content.