Steps to Improve Your Personal Accountability
Do you struggle with accountability? Just about everyone does at times. Sometimes it may because you’re just too busy or you’re juggling too many things at once. Other times you may realize you don’t have everything you need to complete a project. But other times, you find that time is just not your friend.
As you know, if you can’t trust yourself to accomplish various tasks daily, others around you won’t feel that they can trust you to accomplish them either. Think about it. Have you ever worked with a team of others and at least one person on the team can’t seem to follow through on their portion of the project. As a result, you lose confidence in them pretty quickly and your trust for them goes down hill. Everyone else has to pick up the slack. The next time you are paired with that person, your enthusiasm for the project dwindles big time, which in turn, creates problems.
So here are some tips you may find helpful as you strive to perfect your personal accountability.
Because most people are very reactive, I want you to think about how you can respond to negative situations in a new way. This gives your thoughts a chance to move from an emotional response to a logical one. Follow these steps and you will create a pattern that others will be very envious of.
Respond. Don’t react!
You’ve have been struggling for the past hour to complete something so you can meet a set deadline. You’re tired and you just realized it’s time to move onto something else. All of the sudden, everyone wants your attention. It’s so easy to agree to take on another project when you’re tired or react with an emotional response. But when you do either of these things, feelings may get hurt, anger or resentment may build or negative words are said that you can’t take back. I have 5 steps that will help you keep your calm so you can respond to others appropriately and thoughtfully.
STOP and THINK before your “react”!
- Stop: Take in at least three deep breaths – this gives your automatic thoughts time to move from emotional, heart-felt responses to travel up to your brain so you can respond instead in a logical, intentional manner.
- Think: What outcome do I want? Do you want the situation to continue to escalate and possibly get out of control or do you want to figure out ways to solve it? What do you need to resolve it?
- Ask: Is this a good time to problem solve or is there a better time? Sometimes walking away for a few minutes, hours or even days provides you with time to think and a new outlook.
- Ask: What type of solution can I/we work toward so this doesn’t happen again?
- Problem solve: Decide upon a time to work on the situation/problem, write it down and follow up with a discussion later. Make sure everyone is in agreement with the day/time.
Manage your time wisely
Managing time really is a lot easier than you might think. You just need a couple of tools. You wont’ get more hours to your day, so you’ll have to learn how to maximize the hours you do have. If you need to get up 5 minutes earlier to start work on time, do it. Know what’s on your plate for the day and set priorities by discerning the importance for each task. Pause every hour or so and monitor what you’ve done and what still needs to be done. This way you can shift gears some to ensure you complete the things that are of highest importance to you, your day or your business.
Be as organized as possible
If you’re able to monitor your time and use it wisely, staying organized will be a synch. Be mindful of time-suckers like social media, talking on the phone and running errands around town. If you use sound judgment to determine which tasks should go to the top of your priority list and why, then you can monitor how many large tasks you can take on vs. small tasks.
If you work from home, get into the habit of doing all of your daily duties (shower, get dressed, eat, straighten up the house, meal plans) before anything else. Then the rest of your day you can devote to personal or business things. Use a large desktop calendar (either on your desk or hanging on a wall) to jot down all of your daily tasks so that you can stay on top of everything efficiently.
Learn how to say NO
Be careful not to take on more than you can handle, no matter what position you may be in. You may be the owner of your business, but it doesn’t mean you should take on more tasks than you can handle. You want to be mindful about what you believe you can deliver on. It’s so easy, when starting a business, to do everything yourself, but after a while you can get burnt out and your motivation starts to decline. This can also damage other people’s trust in you. When someone asks you to take on yet another project (or you “think” you can do so yourself), be honest with yourself and look at what’s on your plate first. Get in the habit of saying, “Let me think about it and get back to you.” People will understand when you tell them that you are too busy to add anything else into your week or calendar.
Always own your mistakes
Nobody’s perfect. Really. Part of being honest and trustworthy means admitting when you make mistakes. Offering a sincere apology when you mess up is most admirable. Humility is an honorable trait and when you take responsibility for things that you failed to follow through on, people are more forgiving. It’s okay to fail at times…that’s how we learn. What’s important is that you learn from your mistakes so they don’t repeat themselves.
Know when to ask for help
A great way of developing accountability is to get other people involved. Let others know that you’re working within a time frame and need help. They can help keep you focused and on task so you keep your motivation up. When it comes to delegating, hand of tasks that you don’t like to do, that are lengthy or simply time suckers. Make sure your expectations are clear with timelines built in. Asking for help from others shows sensibleness and organization. And it really helps you move forward much faster.
Put into place some consequences
Along with accountability come consequences that occur as a result of your personal choice. If you’re one to avoid a situation, you will probably choose to procrastinate, “pass the buck” on to someone else, blame or offer lots of excuses for why you couldn’t follow through. This is only a temporary fix that delays progress and destroys trust of others. If this is you, you probably beat yourself up a lot….and I really want to help you break this vicious cycle!
There is a quote that says, “You either make yourself accountable or you will be made accountable by your circumstances.” Which one sounds most like what you’ve experienced? In order for accountability to work, people have to know that failure of completion will come with certain consequences. Without some form of consequence, you won’t take yourself, or all that you are working toward, very seriously. Make sure that the consequence you place on projects or tasks reflects that project or task or make certain that the consequence stings you a bit. Some people have a money jar that they have to add money to when a task is not completed or forgotten. This is a tangible way to see how often things happen and how necessary it is to fix the problem.
Celebrate all successes!
Even small accomplishments should be rewarded. Ask others to celebrate with you. Get into the habit of rewarding yourself when you accomplish tasks so you can feel uplifted. After all, you’ve worked hard and you deserve it! Rewards might include a few hours by yourself to read, a walk, a movie, dinner out, a massage or a manicure….something you don’t usually do for yourself. And if you’ve delegated some projects out to others, don’t forget to reward their efforts too. Everyone enjoys being recognized for a job well done!
What are some things you do to hold yourself accountable? Please share your comments below. Would you like more tips or need help go get on the right track? If so, let’s talk.