In my last article, I explored the habits of highly productive people and what us normal folk can learn from them. How do they do it? What choices are they making?
This. Is. HUGE. Probably the single biggest factor in people staying on track is accountability. Accountability, simply, is having someone to answer to, on some level. You’re a lot less likely to screw up if you know there will be a negative consequence. If you fall off your diet and no one knows about it, it’s easy to get in the habit of falling off your diet. But if you tell the entire world you’re going on a diet, and then post pictures on your Instagram page – either of your meals or of yourself – you’ll be more likely to stick with that diet.
Workout partners keep you accountable. Coaches keep you accountable. Friends keep you accountable. People in your boot camp keep you accountable. In terms of fitness, do you know who keeps me accountable? You do. My readers, that is. I know that the people reading my articles look to me as a credible source of information, and therefore they have expectations: They expect me to look the part. It’s not enough to talk the talk for my readers. I have to walk the walk, run the run and bench the damn bench. And so, even on days when I don’t feel like training or am tempted to skip my workout, I do it anyway, because that’s what my readers expect of me and what they know I would expect of them.
When I opened my facility, I decided that I wanted to get up earlier every day. To help, I reached out to a friend of mine (who is up at 5 a.m. to work) and asked him if he could just shoot me a text each morning for the first two weeks to provide accountability and make sure my ass was out of bed.
Like a good friend, Udeme sent a text every day at 6:05 for two weeks that said “U up?” I’d respond to let him know I was. Two weeks later, I took things into my own hands: I’d send him a text at 5:55 a.m. and tell him that I was awake. That was enough to build the habit and make sure I stuck with it.
In terms of writing and blogging, I sent another friend a schedule of my ideas for story arcs and the like, and he’d follow up with a text letting me know that if I didn’t post my blog tomorrow, I owed him money. This is financial accountability, and you’d better believe I got my articles up on time.
These are both examples of private accountability. I find that, as effective as that is, public accountability is by far more effective. Social networks like Instagram and Facebook can become your de facto support network. Just tell your friends and followers your goal, and, in short order, they’ll be following up with you each and every day to make sure you’re doing the right things.
This includes creating small fitness communities on these platforms and extending to groups on things like Whatsapp. Communities like these encourage users to update, and this keeps them committed and inspires others to do the same.Remember: Community + motivation + accountability = unstoppable results.
Create A Perfect Day
Finally, we come to an idea that I think will have the greatest long-term value for you. It’s the idea of a perfect day. And, no, it’s nothing like waking up next to Kerry Washington and Meghan Markle (for fans of Suits) in a world where the economy is booming, ice cream gives you abs and Obama is still President.
Instead, the idea is to create a perfect day for your goal, whatever it is. Lay out your day, from the time you get up till the time you go to sleep, hour by hour. A day when you do everything right, make no mistakes and know with 100% certainty that you are closer to your goal.
Can you have a day like that often? Probably not as often as you’d like. But if you have never stopped to think about what that day will look like, how will you know if you accidently stumble upon it? I suggest sketching out your perfect day, for any goal. I’ve done this for both productivity and writing, and it’s unbelievable how effective it can be. Sure, I haven’t managed to make every day perfect, but I know that each day, as long as I’m trying my best to get close and structuring my day to try to emulate my plan, I’ll make more progress than if I hadn’t done it.
The Final Word
There you have it. If you follow these five rules, you’ll be more productive in your job, at the gym and at life in general. Again, these tips can be applied to almost anything, so give it a shot in other areas.