Use Public Accountability and Deadlines to Get Things Done
September 22, 2008 - Written by Gyutae Park
It’s 3 am in the morning. There’s still a ton of stuff I need to get done, and yet I’m tired and cranky, craving sleep. I could easily just throw in the towel and call it a night, but I know that there’s just too much at stake. I need to get my work done before it’s due, and do it well before time’s up. My body is screaming at me, threatening to shut itself down. I retaliate by consuming more and more coffee, stimulants to keep me alert and sharp.
This is a common scene from my college years not too long ago. I’m sure many of you have experienced the same. Tuition at Northwestern cost me an arm and a leg so naturally I wanted to do well, ambitiously prepare for my career, and ultimately get my money’s worth. Furthermore, coming from a Korean family, I was constantly bombarded with high expectations – especially from my parents. I had to do well, otherwise a lot of people would be disappointed in me.
This is the kind of high-stress, high-pressure life that I lived. In hindsight, it wasn’t the best way to go about things nor did I have my priorities straight. But at the end of the day, this much is still true: public accountability and deadlines force you to get your work done.
As a blogger and Internet entrepreneur, you essentially work your own hours and set your own agenda. There’s no boss setting hard deadlines for you and your family and friends are oftentimes against your business ventures online (especially if you haven’t seen big success yet) which makes it a lot harder. It’s easy to day dream about what you want to do, but a lot of times the actual work never gets done.
I’m a chronic procrastinator myself, always putting things off until the last minute when I absolutely need to do them. However, as I learned in my college years, public accountability and deadlines are crucial in getting work done as quickly as possible. I still struggle with productivity on a daily basis, but I’ve found that these 2 components are key to successful action. As the graphic shows, goals are just dreams with deadlines.
Below are a few guidelines that will help you to set up motivating influences for your online business. If you’re not very productive right now, they may be just what you need to get started.
Setting Up Public Accountability
Have you written your blog post for tomorrow yet? Or finally started on your plans of a new membership site or affiliate marketing campaign? Telling yourself that you’re going to do something simply isn’t enough. Unless you have someone who will keep you accountable and motivate you to get your work done, chances are that nothing will happen. Accountability can come from a variety of different places: a business partner who depends on your performance, your blog audience that you obviously do not want to disappoint, or a rival who you don’t want to admit failure to. Putting your reputation on the line will give you the pressure you need to perform high-quality work in less time. Isn’t that what we’re all after?
I suggest that every Internet entrepreneur, publisher, and blogger set up some sort of system to encourage accountability. You can join a mastermind group, discuss your goals on your blog or industry forums, work closely with partners, or announce to potential customers what you’ll be delivering on. Sharing your goals with others forces you to live up to them without making excuses.
As an example of public accountability, Tyler Cruz set up a bet with his readers a while back to either work at least 40 hours in a week or pay $100 to one of his readers. Sure, it seems a little silly and extreme, but there’s no doubt it increased Tyler’s productivity.
What are some ways you can set up a structure of accountability to keep you motivated and productive?
It’s common for most people to procrastinate and put things off until the very last minute – either out of laziness or an obsession for perfection. Deadlines are effective because they counteract this natural tendency and force you to make a decision or complete a project by a certain date and time whether it’s ready or not. For example, do you want to launch a new site? Give yourself a reasonable deadline then use public accountability to enforce it. When I first started my massive contest where I gave away thousands in prizes, I set an end date and announced it to everyone participating. After making that sort of a commitment, there was nothing I could do but work hard and meet the deadline. Without proper deadlines, your projects will float around on your to-do lists without ever being completed. Make deadlines for everything you do if possible – writing individual blog posts, answering emails, launching new sites, and executing marketing campaigns. You’ll see a big difference in the amount of work you get done.
What are some of the ways in which you are using public accountability and deadlines to increase productivity in your online business? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.If you like this post, subscribe to the RSS feed. Get the latest updates delivered straight to your email or news reader.