Creative work can be isolating and it is easy to lose your motivation when you feel like you spend day in and day out working on your projects alone. Finding a friend or creative partner to help you stay on task is a great way to keep yourself motivated. I have had a few different accountability partners over the years and it has made all the difference.
A few years ago a dear friend and I decided we would work together through “accountability sprints” where we would check in via email every hour or so to see what the other had worked on. More recently, I’ve done weekly or bi-weekly check-ins with my accountability partner because that’s what our schedules allow for. If you need motivation and you want to start looking for someone to help hold you accountable, here are some tips and tricks I have learned over the years.
Make Checking in a Habit
I’ve done this a few different ways. As I mentioned above, I have had partners I checked in with pretty frequently and some that I only checked in with every week or so. When we check in we always go over what we accomplished, what we did not quite finish, and what we want to do in the future. You can use tools like a shared google doc to keep track of what you are currently working on, so your partner can visually see what your goals are and what you are working towards.
Build Trust and Be Comfortable
You need to be able to give and take constructive criticism from your accountability buddy. If you can’t be honest about your productivity with your partner, then it may be difficult for the partnership to really push you to do more.
The two best accountability partners I’ve had were people I was good friends with first. We both knew when to say “Hey, dude, you are slacking” and when to say “Hey, I know you did not hit all your goals this week, but you worked really hard and that matters.” Finding someone that you share enough trust with that they can give you honest feedback and helpful praise is really important.
Make Sure You’re On Similar Levels Creatively
A couple years ago I met a friend who I thought would make a good accountability buddy. They were just starting to build a writing career, so they needed a lot of feedback, but they seemed rather eager and willing to do start the work so I dove in. As time went on, I realized that I was giving them a lot of constructive comments on their work and trying to motivate them past the planning/plotting stage of their work. As the months wore on, they stayed stuck in that stage and I realized it was not working out for either of us.
It’s best to find someone who is on a similar level to you creatively. If you work with someone who has some finished work and has shown they can start and finish their projects it is more likely you’ll both be able to move forward creatively together.
Be A Good Buddy
One thing from my career as a teacher that stuck with me is that you need to give a good amount of positive feedback and give negative feedback carefully and kindly. This applies to being a good accountability buddy too! Think about the feedback you give and make sure it’s both helpful and productive. You want to be a good cheerleader for your buddy and have them be a good cheerleader for you too!