If you are willing to get personal with it, Accountability delivers three things
1. Low stress
3. Work / life satisfaction
Hour One: No Screen Time
To start my day the accountable way I have made a commitment that the first hour of my day be no “screen time.” I am accountable to myself the first hour of the day. Once I’m up or during my “get ready” time I enjoy the silence and my own thoughts or read a few chapters of a novel, go to the gym (and avoid the “news” screens) or take a walk.
I remember when the chaos of the morning involved our kids looking for a shoe or needing to get their lunch prepared or dashing for the school bus. I had to press the re-set button on the morning with a family meeting. “Let’s all agree to what we need to do the night before to keep the crazy of the morning from ruining our day.” It stuck. They are now both in college and I stick to “no screen time” mornings.
In my keynotes I encourage this visible reminder be posted where it is one of the first things seen before launching into the day. It’s my mantra to keep my mindset where I have the control to continually refuse to abdicate my positive and productive work-day attitude to anyone.
I am responsible, self-empowered, and accountable for understanding the role, the task, the final deliverable, and the due dates. It is up to me to be clear and successful in my role. If obstacles or conflicting priorities arise, it is still up to me to gain focus and create greater effectiveness. (Mindset) No fault, no blame, no guilt.
Structure and Focus
It is really important to dump the to-do list in favor of “everything goes in your calendar”. Think of your calendar as your fuel meter. Just like you watch the gas tank indicator on your car to know when you need to fill up, you need to watch the capacity of the hours in your day. A “to-do” list gives no indication when you are going to run out of time or when you need to reprioritize.
Moving fast is not the same as getting somewhere.
Many high performers (low stress, productivity, job satisfaction) report that focus is the key to their success. They don’t allow interruption. For example, when someone says “Do you have a minute?” and they really don’t right then, they say “I don’t have a minute right now while I focus on finishing something, but if you come back at 3:00 I will give you my full attention for 15 minutes, can that work?” Of course they will drop everything if it truly is a “right now” need. But if it can wait, they ask for that so they can remain focused and not use interruptions as their excuse for less than top quality work.
Start your day the accountable way by reviewing your calendar and giving everything a “home” in time. 20 minutes or less of looking at your priorities, communicating them to as many people as possible (so they know your fuel level too) is an amazing accountability booster. You’ll get more miles out of every hour without needing to do more work.
Play Full Out
I find that if I start my workday the accountable way it means doing what I need to do, not what I like to do first. I like to check Facebook and LinkedIn and list personal errands first but they contribute nothing to the work product that needs to come first for my customers both internal and external. It definitely takes discipline to play full out. Just like my training coach at the gym who watches for inefficiencies in my performance during strength training, you can watch for all the inefficiencies in your time use. If you have to wait on someone to move to your next step how will you use that time? Do you mope around and complain they don’t have what you need so you go on-line and wander around or do you pick up a report you have needed to read or write up a “Looking Back to Learn” for the next staff meeting. Just because a player on the field doesn’t have the ball doesn’t mean they walk off and sit on the bench, they keep their eyes on all the whole game and stay ready. This is the ultimate in exercising one’s personal accountability.
If I start my day the accountable way it does not feel too structured or punishing it feels fun and focused.
1. Hour one – no screen time.
2. Set my mindset (remember, garbage in = garbage out)
3. Structure and focus are key to creativity and freedom
4. Play FULL out
There it is