We're all busy with our daily routines. Some of us work full-time jobs, others might work multiple part-time gigs just to get by. And it's very tough to have the extra time, or quite understandably, the extra desire to put on even more work on our busy plates.
But regardless of who you are, we all have goals or dreams we'd like to achieve. Making the time to improve yourself is a very solid investment. Perhaps you'd like to start an online business, learn a new skill (guitar, cooking, writing, knitting, etc.), or perhaps make time to exercise. It's not only tough to get started on this additional task but even tougher to keep at it. Something that could help you there is an accountability buddy!
What is an accountability buddy?
What are the benefits of collaborating with a buddy?
How does this all work?
Goal Tips & Suggestions
When are you done?
What have we achieved with this method?
1 - What is an accountability buddy?
The name is pretty self-explanatory, because it’s really just a friend, a colleague, or a family member that you trust in helping you be accountable towards reaching the goals you set for yourself, and you are doing the same for your buddy.
This is something that me and my friend and colleague, Barrington Campbell, have been trying out as a motivational method for some time now. Barrington and I met when we were both class of 2019 interns at Unity Technologies. We soon saw that we both aspire to achieve more outside of regular work hours, and we decided to support each other in our own journeys!
2 - What are some benefits of collaborating with a buddy?
The coolest benefit is working alongside someone that shares your own motivation in improving themselves. This will fuel the drive, and keep both of your momentum strong as you make progress.
You can give each other feedback on what you’re working on.
Helps you keep on track of your goals, and vice versa!
You may not realize it at first, but you could be inspiring others in starting their own quests for self-improvement, once they see what you've accomplished.
3 - How does this all work?
In a nutshell, you and your accountability buddy agree on a shortlist of goals that you’d both like to reach in 1 or 2 weeks from the moment that they’re established. After that time has passed you have a short sync meeting between the two of you to discuss what was accomplished and what was not. You then give each other some feedback and set the new goals for the next 1 or 2 weeks. And that's it! 🎉
A simple structure of a sync meeting can be like this (around 30 minutes long):
1st buddy shares progress: 5 - 10 minutes
2nd buddy shares progress: 5 - 10 minutes
1st buddy describes the next sync’s goals: 5 minutes
2nd buddy describes the next sync’s goals: 5 minutes
Honestly, feel free to modify this to your liking. This is just a suggestion that has worked for us. We suggest doing a sync meeting every 2 weeks, but if you’d like to do weekly ones, then more precise goal tracking for you!
Talk about your goals, and see if maybe you have some in common and could help each other out, or maybe even collaborate on the same product or project.
The 1st Sync
The first sync is one of the most important meetings! This is where you have to establish the rules of how you’ll keep each other in line towards reaching your goals.
We recommend the first meeting to talk about what goals you’d like to accomplish in the long term, and establish small reachable goals for the next 1 to 2 weeks.
The 2nd Sync
In this sync, you should take the opportunity to discuss what went well and what didn't. See if you put on too much work, or too little. Remember that this is extra time of your weeks that are used for your own growth, but you should always try and keep a healthy balance between working and resting properly.
Be honest with your buddy, and if you both honestly feel that you can continue, then best of luck to you both!
3rd sync, and afterward
By now, you should have a good pace going, some weeks have gone by, and you should be able to start seeing some small but good progress in your goals!
In between syncs(optional, but recommended!)
This is completely optional, but if you’d like, you can communicate some updates on your goals to strengthen the momentum. It can be a quick screenshot, a quick message describing your progress, etc.
Life happens, and sometimes you cannot make it to a particular sync meeting, but be straightforward about it. If one of you cannot make it to a sync meeting, then you could postpone it for the next possible day. And if you miss one, then it's not the end of the world, just be sure to share your progress somehow (email, message, etc.).
4 - Goal Tips & Suggestions
🎯 - Do what you can
Be realistic with yourselves, and think about what you can add to your already busy plate. If you have time to focus on just one extra task, then that’s ok. You’re good.
Start small, and add more when you’re comfortable doing so. In the end, it’s always better to finish 1 goal, instead of working on 2 or more that are left incomplete.
⌚ - Feeling stuck? Just do 5 min. a day!
The toughest part about finishing a big goal is to just start. Well, maybe starting and also keeping a good momentum going.
However, you'd be surprised at how effective just 5 minutes of solid concentration on a task will help you out. Simply put a timer down for that time and just go! Once those 5 minutes are up, then you are done for the day. That's it! The next day, start your next 5-minute session where you left off. The interesting thing is that you'll find yourself giving it another few more minutes each time. But when we say at least 5 minutes every day, we really do mean 5 minutes E.V.E.R.Y. D.A.Y.! That's the only rule if you try this tactic, don't skip a single day.
Note: We started applying this rule recently, and it has been very productive! This is especially true for those days when you're tired, or simply not that motivated to keep it going. And that's fine if you're not always 100% pumped up to work extra. We're humans, not machines.
📏 - Keep it Measurable!
A good measurable goal will let you know objectively how much you’ve progressed. When you can count your steps, you have a clear idea of how much work you have left, and also a very clear idea of how much you’ve accomplished.
✅Measurable short-term goal examples(2-weeks):
Write 1 or 2 more chapters of your book
Read or listen to 5 to 8 chapters of a book
Go on 6 to 10 walks of at least 30 minutes each
Learn to cook 2 to 4 new dishes
❌ Non-measurable short-term goal examples (2-weeks):
Work on website
Make some sketches
Go on some walks, exercise
As you can see, the measurable goals are easier to know how much you’ve progressed, and how much is left to do.
♻ - Goals can be reused
Some short-term goals like "exercising 3-5 times per week", or "reading 5 to 8 chapters in a book" can be repeated. These short-term goals help you to build up towards a long-term goal, in this case better health or finishing a book that you’ve wanted to read. But be sure to keep track of that long-term progress. Be happy that you’re now in chapter 14, or you’ve reached 5 straight weeks of exercise!
🔧- Use tools to keep track of your goals
Back to basics! Sometimes just a simple sheet of paper or a notebook is all you need to keep track of things.
reference: Time Management Ninja
Trello: A very good tool with a good free basic plan. This awesome tool lets you create your own task board, or select from pre-made templates. Afterward, you can share your board with your buddy, and both of you can easily start adding your own task cards. The interface is very easy to use and very interactive.
There are plenty of other online tools similar to Trello, but we're mentioning it because we're currently using it's helped a lot.
5 - When are you done?
It’s perfectly normal if one or both of you decide to stop for good or to take a break from working extra. You might’ve finished a long-term goal, or maybe you feel like you’ve made enough progress and learned what you wanted to learn. In the end, all of this is meant for your own personal growth. Some people want to practice a skill or learn something new to see how much they like it. Others may have tougher goals like starting their own business. As long as you both came out the accountability syncs better than before you started, then you’ve accomplished something. You’ve worked towards your own growth, and it’s made you stronger.
6 - What have we achieved with this method?
This is not a full list of our side goals, but just some of the ones we've made good progress on during our syncs.
I don't know where this guy gets his energy, but I'm super impressed every time we have our syncs! Barry is working on multiple big side-projects at the moment which includes:
His own online keyboard store: https://www.barbellboards.com/ You can already submit your orders, and he's getting some clientele already! Also check out his Youtube channel, Barbell Boards to learn more about the keyboard setup!
His SECOND Youtube channel, Barbell Motors where he's keeping track of his progress in reviving his old Civic EG he bought to race it!
Learning VR game development!
I'm not currently working on any public-facing gigs or products, but I'm happy to say I've progressed on:
I've played guitar for some years now, but I've been practicing enough to maintain my skill. I finally took some extra time to learn how to play additional songs and techniques!
Practicing content creation by writing this blog post!
Working on my own video game demo, which I've not shared with many people yet, but my accountability buddy has seen how the idea has taken a more solid form!
7 - Any thoughts?
We'd like to please hear from you!
Have you tried this or something similar before?
Would you be interested in trying this out yourself?
What goals or projects come to mind?
Any suggestions on improving the overall process, or making it more fun?
What other tools or methods do you use to keep track of your progress?
In what other ways can you see that this method could be helpful?