Saying Hi to your accountability partner

Make it easier to show up to get stuff done: get an online accountability partner

There are some days when I know from early morning that the hardest part of my work is going to be showing up.
It’s easy to slip, it’s easy to say “later” or “tomorrow” and time goes by so quickly! Guilt creeps in, or at some point barges in, but sometimes it’s not enough to take just that first step: showing up. This happens to me for some work tasks, but happens to everyone for work and other domains, such as studying, meditating, doing exercises, cleaning the house, you name it. Showing up is often the hardest step.

The importance of an accountability partner

We are all accountable for our work: to our clients, to our partners, to our boss, to our colleagues. We agree with someone that we’ll do something and that someone is expecting us to get it done, follow up, share progress. As an entrepreneur, and until recently freelancer, I am accountable to my clients and partners for the work I am carrying out for or with them. But I have plenty of work, such as business development or marketing, for which I am accountable to no one but myself. That’s when showing up gets more difficult.

The American Society of Training and Development found that people are 65% more likely to meet a goal after committing to another person. Their chances of success increase to 95 percent when they build in ongoing meetings with their partners to check in on their progress. But who is going to hold me accountable for things that ultimately only benefit me? Which friend or colleague is going to make sure I show up? Who is going to hold you accountable for that workout you planned for tomorrow morning? Or that lesson on Coursera?

Enter Focusmate

Focusmate is a platform that connects you with someone else and for 50 minutes you are each other’s online accountability partner. Right now, in the corner of my screen, I can see S., from Los Angeles, busy writing on her journal, while I am busy writing this post. At the beginning of the session, each of us declared her goal and off we went. At the end of the session, we will check in with each other to comment on how the session went.

How it works

The platform gives you a dashboard with a calendar: you either book a session and have a partner matched to you or book a session with someone who has already scheduled one. You can see a brief profile of the person: where they are from, what they are generally working on, what book they are reading, how they use Focusmate. You get invitations via email in your own calendar for the session, so you just need to accept them.

Focusmate dashboard
I haven’t booked sessions for tomorrow yet, I tend to do that at the end of my day

Ten minutes before the session, you can activate the camera and when the other person comes online you share your goals, listen to theirs, then it’s down to work. You leave video on and can agree with your partner about whether or not muting the microphone, depending on what’s on the schedule, so that everyone is comfortable.

Focusmate gives simple rules to follow to make it work; of course, it is up to you to actually do what you said you’d do, but I found I tend to stick to my tasks and get things done. The 50 minute-session allows you to schedule sessions back to back with 10 minutes break, Pomodoro-technique style. The subscription is free for up to 3 sessions per week and it’s 5$ a month for unlimited sessions.

In the last couple of weeks, I have been matched with people doing all kinds of stuff from all over the world: breathing exercises in California, social media management from the Philippines, solving math problems from Paris, reviewing a thesis chapter from Calcutta… For each session, I have an online accountability partner that comes from a different part of the world and I LOVE IT!

Showing up for others is easier

Focusmate basically makes it easier for me to show up because I am also showing up for my partner and not just for myself. For most of us, it’s just easier to do good things for others than to do them for ourselves, right?

Now, my session is ending, my post is finished and I need to check in with S. and see how she did.

Do you think having an online accountability partner would help your productivity? Have questions? Let me know in the comments!


PS: if you want to know more about time management, download our FREE resource that includes a list of observable behaviors, a self-assessment, and an action plan template to help you acquire new, functional behaviors. You find it here.

Design Your Time

This blog post is part of our Design Your Time series, check out our programs here.