In the past, 8 am on a Monday would include my to-do list rapidly growing out of control. It would be filled with little stuff (reconcile this month’s accounts, follow-up emails), big stuff (mock up wireframes for new site, pursue new partnership), non-work stuff (schedule gym classes, call Mom) and stuff that just feel good to cross off a list (shower!).
And before I knew it, I would get lost in a maze of “doing stuff” at random or tackling the most urgent tasks first and end up with no solid achievements come Friday. Without a “boss” or hard deadlines like I had in my corporate job, sometimes my week flew by without a chance to step back and look at the bigger picture.
Since joining an accountability group, everything has changed.
Here’s what 8 am on Monday looks like now: I settle down at my computer, coffee in hand, and head to the private message forum for my accountability group. There, a leader has posted a short reflection for the week and a reminder to “put on our CEO brains” and reflect on what actions will really move our business and goals forward in the next five days.
The big picture? A 90-day “Vision Plan” that’s meant to guide my overarching priorities over a three month period. Once I set a priority, a curated list of actions — my weekly “to-do list” — follows naturally. I officially commit to what I’m going to do and submit my post.
The other five women in my group — all small business owners, independent contractors and entrepreneurs — check in on the forum throughout the morning as well. We give quick comments on each other’s goals or offer contacts or fast help if a tricky question or request comes up. Then, with my prioritized to-do list in hand (and a circle of people holding me responsible) I head out into the world.
Over the next five days my action plan is a constant reminder of what I should be doing to move my business forward. Many other tasks may come up or get slotted in (and often my priority items may consume only 20 percent or so of my actual time) but they can’t get left behind or continuously pushed to “next week.” Having my accountability group behind me not only increases my productivity, they also help me make smarter business moves.
On Friday afternoon, the real magic happens. I head to the forum again: did I do what I committed to doing? Often, the answer is yes — and if I nailed my goals, I get congratulations from my fellow members and earn “points” that turn into donations to charity. So, #winning. Plus, once I realize that I’ve done something good during the work week, I feel much better about taking some time off over the weekend — one of the hardest things to do as an entrepreneur!