How to Hold Yourself Accountable and Productivity Tips
Creative entrepreneurs share their insights on how to hold yourself accountable when you work by yourself and their tips for keeping up your productivity!
We've asked experts in our in community - women we admire and who have so much knowledge to share - to contribute to blog series titled Ask A Creative Founder.
This week's question is: How do you hold yourself accountable? What productivity habits do you have?
Read on to find out how our Creative Founders keep themselves accountable for their work and the productivity habits that help them stay on track
Tell us about how your keep yourself accountable and your productivity habits, Bonnie: I know that I work best on a deadline, so I implement time blocking (also known as the Pomodoro Technique) to make the most of my workday. I portion my entire workday into different sections, each with its own purpose. This enables me to work efficiently, avoid getting sucked into my inbox, and walk out of my office each day feeling accomplished. I should also mention that I’m a huge believer in the power of “office hours” in my own business and life!
I also make it a point to have a final checkpoint before I end my workday. Instead of just closing down my computer and walking away at the end of my day, I chose to take 10-15 minutes to assess what items on my to-do list didn’t happen, set my top three priorities for the next day, and create a simple plan for what my next day will look like. This helps me dive into that next morning with focus, and enables me to walk away from my workday that evening without odd work-related tasks floating around in my mind. It’s been a game-changer for my mental clarity!
Tell us about how your keep yourself accountable and your productivity habits, Brittany: It’s so easy to get off track and distracted working for yourself, but being a good steward of my time serves me, my family and my clients so much better. I work hard every week to refine my process. I know if I don’t write something down, it won’t get done. I also over commit on the things I can realistically get done in one day.
To keep myself accountable, I keep all of my projects and to-do lists in Asana. I divide my list into days, assign due dates to all of my tasks and drag and drop each task into the day I need to get it done. There’s nothing like seeing all of the things you’ve done in one day checked off in Asana!
To increase productivity, I’ve cut back on the time I spend on social media. It’s such a time suck. If I know it’s a busy day, I just don’t open my accounts. I also schedule time for email. I used to keep my inbox open all day answering emails as they came in. Controlling my social media and email time has really amped up my productivity.
Tell us about how your keep yourself accountable and your productivity habits, Caroline:I was never one for using a calendar, but as my business has grown, it’s been essential! Trello is my best friend. I use it everyday and it keeps my life straight. I have several Trello boards for each aspect of my business and even keep track of goals. This has been a major step in holding myself accountable. Every month, I have a day set when I go through all my metrics and check and see my progress. It was time consuming getting it all set up, but it’s increased my productivity and helped me so much!
Tell us about how your keep yourself accountable and your productivity habits, Jackie: I’m an avid list maker and goal setter. I write down what I want to do, and when I want to do it by, which works to motivate me.
As far as holding myself accountable – well, having to pay rent on my studio space does that for me!
Tell us about how your keep yourself accountable and your productivity habits, Kelly: I’m a list maker. I love the satisfaction of crossing something off my list, but paper planners never worked for me and the post it notes around my computer wasn’t ideal. I discovered Trello, an online organization and productivity tool, about a year ago and am now using it for every single part of my business. It help me organizing timelines for new product development, my podcast tasks, money management, goal setting, and scheduling. It’s amazing! I would not be able to keep my business life and family life straight without it.
Tell us about how your keep yourself accountable and your productivity habits, Kelsey: I use Asana + Evernote to stay organized. Asana houses all of my to do lists, tasks, meetings, and calendars. Evernote houses all my writing, brain dumps, random lists, and ideas. I have both open 24/7, and dump things in there whenever I have an idea or remember a task I need to get done. Having this system helps me get stuff out of my head and onto a calendar, where I can attach a date to it and know it won’t slip through the cracks. I am in two different mastermind groups where we help keep each other accountable with our big ideas + plans for our business, and can help brainstorm strategies + logistics when we get stuck. These girls have become some of my dear friends!
Tell us about how your keep yourself accountable and your productivity habits, Paula:Lately, my goal sheets from Creative Founders have been keeping me the most accountable. I have each of my goals detailed out into lists by two-week periods. I am absolutely determined to meet my goals, and these sheets have been helping me stay on task. I’m also using a block schedule to help me with my days. Polkadot Paper Company is not my only job. I have kids to transport and help with homework, and another company I do design for, as well as some volunteer work. The schedule block is still something I’m getting used to, but it’s helping me remember to put in things like “design time” and “planning time” so that I actually DO those things and not skip over them because I am busy packing orders or doing smaller tasks.
Sometimes working at home, I feel the tug of things like dishes or laundry that want to keep me from being productive. I’ve found that giving myself 5-10 minutes to attend to those types of things then sitting down to work is really helpful. Some days I may do 10 minutes of “chores” then 50 minutes of work before doing another 10 minutes of chores. This seems to get me through the days when I feel like I have multiple things to accomplish at home and in business.
Tell us about how your keep yourself accountable and your productivity habits, Val: Now that I have a team, I am held accountable to them. We have deadlines for wholesale catalogs, photo shoots, collection releases etc. and I need to make product decisions for these things. Thinking of my week in terms of tasks for certain days or times of day has helped me be more productive. For example, on Mondays, I try to schedule meetings with the team. That way, I am focused on them and not spreading my mental energy too thin thinking about everything that needs to be accomplished. Having a schedule has been the biggest help.
Tell us about how your keep yourself accountable and your productivity habits, Kristin: Keeping yourself accountable is a challenge when you're a solopreneur - either you did what you said you would or you didn't. I do the best I can to make sure I give myself more time than needed for most projects because it's important to my business model simply to follow through on things you said you would. Underpromise, overdeliver is a common phrase I use to keep myself in check. For productivity, I use both a paper planner (the weekly planner by SCF alum Ashley of She Plans is the best I've ever used!) and Trello to keep track of everything I need to do for my business, in addition to Powersheets to keep goals in view daily.
It took me a while to find a system that works for me, but I think it's important to figure out what best works for you in addition to trying different methods that others share with you to see what works the best. In my planner, I have the top priorities written down for each day along with everything I need to accomplish for the week, and use Trello to make sure I am keeping up with client work and when all deadlines are, in addition to notes needed for each project so that they're all in one place. I have a daily check-in routine every morning before working for the day, in addition to a mini weekly planning session every Sunday evening to make sure I am completing what I need to inside and outside of my business. I always have my Powersheets open to the tending list page and have them right in my line of sight so that goals are not forgotten about in the busy of running business. I also use timeblocking to make sure I do all of the things that need to be done to keep my business running smoothly in addition to client work, such as weekly time set aside for Quickbooks and mileage updates every week, social media planning, specific times assigned to doing client work, and always intentionally including a little bit of white space for every day just in case I need more time to finish something I am working on.
Thanks so much for sharing more about your productivity habits. In the next installment of our Ask A Creative Founder series, we'll get their answers on how they plan for a sales slump in a seasonal industry. In the meantime, keep up with all of our creative founders through the links above!