Have you ever sat down at your desk to get a bunch of stuff done and discovered an hour later that you haven’t started any of it? How often do you get caught up in your Facebook feed and find that you have wasted all the time you had set aside to get those nagging tasks done? There is nothing like procrastination and distraction to zap your productivity.
The experts recommend that you make lists of things you have to do, and try to shut out as many distractions as possible. This can work for a while… until your work zone becomes a no-man’s land, because it’s simply not fun to be there. Who wants to sit at a desk all alone with the door closed and the phone off to accomplish something that maybe you are resistant to start (for whatever reason)? It’s kind of like putting yourself in solitary confinement.
While the experts say that these types of things increase productivity, you may find that you struggle with doing them consistently. It’s actually not that uncommon. You may have aspects in your Human Design chart which indicate that you are better at working in spurts. Or you may have more of a need to get their energy from outside sources. It doesn’t mean you’re flawed or inadequate in any way. You may just need to take a different approach to how you get things done. In addition to making lists, scheduling your time to work on a project and cutting out distractions, try adding in a bit of Social Accountability.
The power of adding social accountability to your work strategy lies in your commitment to show up at a certain time because someone else is counting on you to be there. Also if you tend to run out of energy (like me) or interest before you complete your tasks, you can kind of borrow the momentum of the other person or group (it can be done in groups) to keep you going.
Here’s how it works
- You make an appointment with another person to meet by video conference to work alongside each other (through the video screen) for a set amount of time. I know it sounds weird to have someone there that you can see on a screen and who can see you, but try to keep an open mind. There is something powerful about being able to see another person working. It’s like you’re in the same boat or working toward a common goal… in this case the goal of accomplishing your individual goals.
- You agree not to talk, and perhaps mute yourself out so you can’t be heard or hear the other person.
- You briefly check in and report on what you intend to get done at the beginning of your pre-scheduled time .
- As you work you report on what you have completed or on the next task you have ahead of you via chat.
- At the end you can unmute, summarize and say good bye.
How to Get Started
If you have a friend or colleague whom you think would be open to the idea of working this way with you, set up an appointment to try it. You can use a free service like Skype or Google Hangouts. You could even try just texting or chatting through Facebook. Just remember that your virtual co-working time is not a time to catch up about on your lives or to discuss problems or get advice. This is just the time that you agree to meet to focus on getting something done. It helps to set a time limit of no more than 90 minutes. That way you have an artificial deadline to work toward. I find that 50 – 75 minutes is ideal for me. I can take a break midway through to refill my tea and assess my progress.
Do you need a little more structure or less familiarity? There is a service called Focusmate that may be of interest to you. At the time of this writing there is a free version where you can sign up and create appointment slots for others to sign up and join you. Or you can check out appointment times that others have created which you can accept. The system is fairly automatic with confirmations sent to your email. You also get access to a private video conference room that you log on to at the time of your appointment. There is even a social media feature to talk with and get to know other members in a Facebook group.
Have you tried the social accountability approach to improve your productivity? Let us know what you think in the comments box on this post.