by Paula on June 27, 2011

Accountability. No, nothing to do with finance, but about being held responsible for your words or actions. Dictionary.com describes accountability as: The state of being accountable, liable or answerable.

Being self-employed, setting my own targets and deadlines and working to my own schedules, it could be easy at times to let things slip as when they are tasks or activities that are not client deliverables. In such situations the only person I’m really accountable to is me. Any of you who are also in this position will know therefore that it would be easy to take the “who will know?” approach to the more mundane or difficult tasks and convince yourself that that’s ok. It’s not really though is it, but without a person to hold us to what we say we will do, how can this change?

Well, two situations that happened last week showed me how even sat here on my own I can make myself accountable and this really drives me in the areas that I might usually struggle.

Situation 1: Cake and crisps

When I was employed, it was easy to avoid the temptations of snacking as I didn’t have such things in my desk drawer, but at home it’s a different story. I’m normally far to busy to even remember to stop for lunch but occasionally the snack-attacks take over and last week I posted on my personal Facebook page:

It was posted in fun but 10 minutes later when I went to make that cup of tea, I did indeed walk past those snacks and there was 1 reason for it. Because I had mentioned it to people publicly I now felt that I had to be good and not eat them, or publicly admit my shame! Had I not told anyone, the “no-one will know” syndrome could well have kicked in.

Situation 2: Tax Return

Having never done a tax return before, and even though AAT trained in accounts, I have been a bit daunted by the tax return sat peering at me on my desk every day. The deadline might not be until next year but, (rather like a wife!) things that need doing never stop nagging me until they’re done! I knew that it was not just the actual tax return but the accounts and filing that needed to be done in order to have all the information ready – in other words, a big job, and one that kept being transferred from one daily ‘to-do’ list to the next. Friday morning I decided I really must do it. I posted the following on my White Social Media Facebook page:


As soon as I’d posted this to my page, I came over all militant. “I can’t not do it now, I’ve said I would and I don’t want to admit failure” I thought to myself, and 15 minutes later I had paperwork in piles all over the floor, an hour later I was all up to date with personal and business accounts, and 3.5 hours later I posted the following:

It was knowing that I’d told people, and knowing that they might ask, and knowing that I wouldn’t lie, that made these things happen.

So who are you accountable to?

It’s a side of Social Media that I hadn’t really before thought through. Would you stand up in a room full of people and commit to doing something and then not bother? What impression will that give? Or will the fact you’ve made your commitment publicly drive you forward to ensure you achieve it?

If it’s the latter then maybe this is something worth thinking through? Decide what you want to achieve, make it known to more than just yourself, then let your audience hold you to it. You might be surprised how much more you can achieve.


Kevin June 28, 2011 at 9:35 am

An excellent piece Paula. I really enjoyed reading this.

This is a prime example of how time management and personal objective setting can work for you.

I have seen so many time management ‘methods’ come and go and been on so many courses about personal objective setting that you forget how simple it can really be.

When your day is stretching ahead of you and you have a multitude of jobs you need to complete it’s easy to make a to-do list but that isn’t the whole story.

At the top of the list must be the tasks that have to completed as a priority. Once a task is completed you can then promote another task into that category. What you must not do is keep putting a task off.

What would give you more satisfaction at the end of the day? To look at the list and see the task still on there or to look at the list and see another nasty job out of the way? Make a contract with yourself to complete a task just as you would with a client and you will feel rewarded when you cross it off your list.

paula June 28, 2011 at 9:39 am

Thanks Kevin.

It’s far too easy to just write a list and then do the ones that are easiest or that you like the most and tell yourself that you didn’t have time for the others and so that’s ok to keep moving it forward. It still nags away at you though and deep down you know that really it should be the number one thing you tackle. In life if ever I have something that’s daunting or easy to put off, I focus strongly on the feelings that I will have when it’s done, and I crave that free-spirited, punching the air kind of feeling that goes with achieving something difficult!

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