My #1 Productivity Tip

I am not naturally a productive person. I love building and learning things, but my intense passion for a subject usually doesn't last long enough for me to get anything meaningful done. Also, I'm especially poor at doing monotonous work over long periods of time.

Let me introduce you to the technique I've used over the past 3 years to "get sh** done".

I call it: "Accountabilibuddying"

How does one Accountabilibuddy?

Here's the formula:

  • Find a person in a relatively similar life position as you
  • Meet with them every week (or every 2 weeks, or month)
  • Define a list of goals for yourself
  • Communicate them to your buddy (they'll do the same to you)
  • Write them down somewhere
  • Have them all done by the time you meet again
  • Rinse/repeat

What have I accomplished with Accountabilibuddying?

Over the past 3 years, I've had 2 different Accountabilibuddies. Here are some things I've accomplished:

  • Measured every single penny that came in and went out for an entire year. I categorized every single transaction for that year and generated reports at the end of every month and at the end of the year. I learned a TON about my finances, and have kept up something similar (but not as extreme) ever since.
  • Wrote a blog post and published a podcast every week for the past 3 months (in fact I am publishing this post because I need to check off that item on my list this week).
  • Kept myself on-schedule for every major project I've worked on since I started Accountabilibuddying. (Including Livewire)
  • Woke up early a bunch.
  • Meditated a bunch.
  • Read a bunch of books.

Why does this work?

At least for me, knowing that I told someone I'd get something done and then showing up having not done that thing is painful. So to avoid that pain, I make sure I've done my homework. If my buddy did their homework and I didn't do mine, I feel unprofessional and uncommitted.

For me, just the accountability aspect alone is enough to get things done that I otherwise would put off ad-infinitum.

Also, it forces me to sit down for 10 minutes and actually think about what I want to accomplish short-term.

What happens if you miss a goal?

This parts kind of tough. As soon as you feel like it's ok to miss a goal, you need to change the expectations between you and your Accountabilibuddy. This is SUPER important.

At different times, I've tried things like: you can't miss a single one, if you do, you have to do it the day of and text the other person it's done.

I'm currently trying the following strategy:

If you miss a goal, it stays on your docket every week until it's done.

I've also toyed with the idea of keeping it on your docket and not letting you set new goals until you have a clean slate.

One time, for "Discipline December", me and two friends set up a rigid goal framework and every time we missed one, we had to donate a certain amount of money.

There's no perfect solution here, just be very aware of the number of goals that get missed and how much of a habit it becomes.

Some notes and tips:

  • One of the biggest benefits of this exercise is establishing a stronger relationship with your Accountabilibuddy. I've become much better friends with both of the guys I did this with. You end up talking about lots of just life stuff as you meet.
  • Time block the meetings. Currently, we time block each meeting to 1 hour. This way it doesn't turn into something unsustainable.
  • MAKE SURE you set up the next meeting before parting ways. Otherwise, it won't happen and the whole thing will fall apart. I guarantee this.
  • Pick someone with similar ambitions. I touched on this before, but let me expound: My first Accountabilibuddy and I focused mostly on finances. My current Accountabilibuddy and I focus more on career development. He plays, refs, and teaches LaCrosse, and I do my thang (which you may be familiar with ;). We both left our day jobs to pursue the independent life, so that's a bonus.

I dare you to try it

Seriously, there are lots of productivity tools and programs. But all of them require discipline on my part. I start off strong, then my interest wanes and I'm back to my old ways. Not this one.

This is different because someone else is making sure you stay the course and you do the same for them.

So think of a person, give them a call, meet at a coffee shop, and do that again a bunch of times. You won't be sorry.

If you do go for it, please tweet at me (@calebporzio) your results and questions!