Ep 150 - Leanne Shelton: Using accountability to get stuff done

Jan 30, 2023

How to approach others to ensure important tasks get done

Are you struggling to get through the important tasks on your to-do list?

And I’m not talking about client work here.

I’m talking about the essential backend business stuff that you know you really *should* be doing to improve your cashflow and grow.

Are you constantly making excuses…and not taking any action?

Or perhaps you’re taking action – but choosing to do the quick and easy tasks, rather than the (slightly or much harder) ones that will drive your business forward?

Well, this is where accountability comes in.

As a business owner, being held accountable by another person or a group is often key to ensuring the right things happen.

It means you can’t get away with lying to yourself or pretending that a task never needed to be done in the first place.

Because someone else will remind you.

Reward you.

Or even punish you. (If you find that works better…. )

Or maybe you’ll just feel embarrassed if it doesn’t happen after announcing it to the world.

Whichever accountability methods you choose, I personally know it works very well. Especially as someone who has self-diagnosed Shiny Object Syndrome and regularly jumps from task to task.

Let’s dive into this week’s episode! 


What is accountability? 

Accountability involves willingly being held responsible for your actions, decisions, and results. 

It works well in situations when you have a tough – but important – task to tackle, but you’re likely to procrastinate and put it off if you’re the only one who knows about it. 

My tip is – rather than keeping the task to yourself, tell at least one other person.

And tell them why the task needs to be done. 

And how you plan to do it. 

And when you’ll achieve it. (SMART goals come in handy here!)

Straightaway, you have someone else (or a group of people) who is emotionally invested in the process and prepared to see results from you. (Yes, I recommend choosing someone who’s actually committed to the accountability practice too!)

You can choose to pay for your accountability partner too. I’m currently the ‘book coach’ and editor for a client, Jennifer, who successfully entered a bikini competition, aged 52, after only a few months of preparation. Back then she paid a coach to keep her accountable each week – and she’s paying me now to keep her on track with her tight writing, publishing, and launching deadlines for her first book. (If you’re keen to read it, here’s a link to pre-purchase!) 

And she swears by this process.  

Why is accountability important for business owners?

Setting up some form of accountability in your business can help you achieve your goals and objectives. 

Rather than getting caught up in all ‘the doing’ and constantly putting client work ahead of your key business tasks, it ensures you maintain focus. 

And ultimately achieve success.

I’m personally familiar with the never-ending to-do list for my business. 

You should see my Trello board of ideas…and spend a day inside my brain. (Actually, that’s a scary thought. You probably don’t wanna go there!)

The problem is – this list easily creates overwhelm. 

And that leads to procrastination.

And then nothing ends up being done.

Or in some cases, I’ve chosen quick and easy tasks from the list, which haven’t been the best use of my time. 

So while I felt ‘productive’, I was actually doing all the wrong things.

Last year, a business friend and I set up a weekly accountability system to help us write our next book and new website copy respectively.

Every Friday afternoon at 3pm, we’d log into Zoom and we would –  

  • Chat about our planned task for the day
  • Set up a 25 minute timer for the good ol’ Pomodoro method
  • Turn off our notifications and put our phones on silent
  • Write our little hearts out
  • Reflect for 5 minutes, and
  • Repeat until 5pm. 

Occasionally, other business owners joined us as well.

And you know what? 

While it took me 2.5 months of those sessions (with the occasional one missed), I wrote copy for my 20 page website. If I didn’t have this accountability set up, my new website would still be sitting on the staging site!

(Side note: If you were to hire us at Write Time Marketing it would take us a lot less time to write your website copy. I obviously had this massive pressure on my shoulders to write the copy bloody well – as it needed to reflect my SEO knowledge and writing skills.

Having other people in a virtual room, who I had to report back to in between writing sprints, kept me accountable and ensured I stuck to the task at hand. 

It was a game-changer for me.

After realising the effectiveness of this accountability method, I set up ‘Business Blogging: Get It Done’ sessions for fellow business owners. The concept was simple – allocate 2 hours to write a blog, with a blogging expert (aka me) by their side to offer tips and feedback. 

The results have been fantastic. Almost everyone who attends writes a whole blog or 80-90% of a blog during that session. And they’re always impressed with themselves. So I’ve now made these accountability sessions a key drawcard for The Blogging Bootcamp membership. 

Yes, you can attempt the Pomodoro method on your own. But there’s no accountability. And there’s no guilt if you end up wasting those 25 minutes scrolling through TikTok videos instead…

What are some ways to keep myself accountable? 

In addition to the group Pomodoro method, you can try the following ideas:

  • Share your intended task or project with your business coach, colleague, business buddy, or partner. Mention what it involves and when you plan to complete it. Then ask them to check in with you at a predetermined time or date in the future. 

Like I mentioned, I’m following this process with Jennifer for her book.

But I used to do this with a fellow copywriter, Kate, as a free arrangement. We’d check in every 2 weeks to discuss our progress. However, I admit that we are friends and both chatterboxes – and often chatted about non-business stuff during the call. So you might want to be wary about who you choose!

I actually heard a podcast episode recently on ‘Happier’ with Gretchen Rubin about someone who’d chosen 12 different accountability partners for the year. So every month they’d have a new person to keep them on track. I thought it was a brilliant idea – as it keeps the process fresh for those involved.

  • Post your intentions to your online community, such as your Facebook page or in a group. You can also share on LinkedIn and/or Instagram. 

For example, I shared my personal goal of 21 days of daily decluttering to my personal Facebook page. I would have been embarrassed if I forgot to show up one day. It worked so well that I decided to keep going…maybe for 100 days! As an added bonus, I’m hearing all these beautiful stories from others who have been inspired to declutter as well. So I feel like I must continue so I can continue to inspire!

  • Join a mastermind or membership. When you’re surrounded by like-minded business owners, who are cheering you on and getting amazing results themselves, it’s easier to feel inspired to take action.

In The Blogging Bootcamp, I’ve set up weekly Get It Done sessions for my members. While it’s up to them to schedule and show up, the accountability is available to them and the sense of achievement is extremely rewarding. So they keep showing up, with one of my star students, Libby, coming along to almost every one! (FYI – I use these sessions to write my own blogs too. #winwin

Are rewards or punishments better when it comes to accountability?

Ooh, this is an interesting question.

Sometimes, the overwhelming satisfaction of completing a hard task is enough. You walk around with a goofy grin and high five everyone. You wash the dishes, empty the dishwasher, and cook dinner without a complaint because you’re so ecstatic that it’s done.

But it’s not always like that.

If it’s a particularly big task or KPI that you really don’t want to do, like make 100 sales calls or go through all your receipts for tax return, you might like to buy yourself a treat at the end of the day. 

Hint: The size of the reward must match the size of the task though…No new handbags or TVs for simply going live on Facebook for the first time. (Unless that’s a massive achievement for your introverted self!)

On the other hand, you might work better if you’re steering clear of a punishment. 

I was once part of the Max Potential youth leadership program as a mentor and I had the opportunity to receive some mentoring myself. At the time, I wanted to get back into my running but was annoyed at myself for always making excuses. After coming up with a plan to run 3 times that week, my mentor gave me an ultimatum – if I didn’t complete those 3 runs that week, I had to pay $100 to a charity of his choice.

Yes, it’s nice to donate to charity. But on my terms. Not someone else’s!

Needless to say, the idea of that ‘punishment’ was enough to ensure I completed those 3 runs that week.

So do I really need accountability?

While there are many occasions where having an accountability partner or method is unnecessary, when it comes to doing the hard stuff (like blogging) it can be extremely useful.

Make sure you choose a method, group, person, reward, or punishment that will keep you motivated to get that sh*t done. Feel free to experiment with different options and work out what brings the best results.

Because while you can ask others to help with accountability, it ultimately all comes down to you!

If you need help with your blog writing (and ultimately creating a strong content marketing strategy), I know you’ll find The Blogging Bootcamp very useful.

After being surveyed, almost all of my pre-launch members were attracted to the accountability aspects of bootcamp via the ‘Get It Done’ sessions. (Which you can trial for $27 here).

Find out more and join here – www.thebloggingbootcamp.com.au 


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