If you’ve read my Why You Shouldn’t Unschool post, you’ll know that I find accountability to be a very valuable asset.
Accountability is useful, not only during education, but also in professional settings.
When you have a job and a boss who needs you to complete certain tasks before a deadline, you are being held accountable for the work that gets done.
If you frequently miss deadlines or hand in incomplete work you could be demoted, or even fired.
Accountability is even more important when you’re freelancing, as you don’t have a boss who can demote or fire you.
Your accountability is driven primarily by yourself, and the knowledge that if you don’t get a certain amount of work done, you won’t be able to pay the rent or pay for food.
Although accountability seems to be more important in your later years of life, learning it while you’re young and working on your studies will benefit you in the future.
So how can you become accountable when it comes to your studies?
Keep Track of Your Work and Projects
The first step is to start keeping track of your work and projects.
You can do this by writing down what you work on and for how long each day. For example, if you’ve worked on an art piece for 3 hours, you could write that down as work done on that day.
You can take this one step further by keeping track of large projects, how long they took, and what you learned from them.
You’ve participated in NaNoWriMo*. You could keep track of how many words you wrote during the month and what skills you practiced.
*NaNoWriMo, which is short for National Novel Writing Month, is an event that takes place each November, where you try to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. There’s also Camp NaNoWriMo which takes place in April and July.
Get an Accountability Buddy
Another way to stay accountable is by getting an accountability buddy.
You and your buddy will email each other your goals or to-do lists for the week, at the beginning of each week.
At the end of the week, you can email each other a list of the things you accomplished, why you weren’t able to accomplish some of your goals, and what you will do to rectify that.
An accountability buddy can be useful if you find external motivation to be effective.
An accountability buddy can also be useful if you two have the same or similar goals or tasks. You can then compete to see who can get certain tasks finished first. There’s nothing quite like some friendly competition to kick start your motivation.
Invest Money Into Your Work
Ever noticed how money seems to motivate people to become accountable?
That’s why people don’t skip classes that they’re paying for, because they want to get their money’s worth of education. Or why people work even when they’re tired or ill, because they need the money that working produces.
That’s also why people buy gym memberships, because investing money creates more accountability for themselves.
So how can you invest money into your own work?
You can start by thinking of a large project, like writing a novel or creating the demo of a video game. Consider how many hours it would take to complete that project, or how many small steps will be needed.
For example, the goal of NaNoWriMo is to write a 50,000 word novel in the span of a month. To do that, you would need to write an average of 1,667 words per day during the entirety of the month.
Let’s round that up to 2000, as writing 2000 words per day will give you a few days of break in case you get sick or burnt out.
What you can do to increase your accountability during NaNoWriMo is give a trusted friend or family member $125 at the beginning of the month. Tell them that for every 2000 words you write, they have to give you $5 back.
This helps create accountability, as the more you write, the more of your money you get back.
To take this one step further, you can also tell them that whatever money they have left at the end of the month, they get to keep. That way, it isn’t about how much money you get back if you work, it’s about how much money you lose if you don’t work.
Showcase Your Progress Online
The last method I know of for increasing accountability is showcasing your progress online.
This is an excellent thing to do, as it also shows potential employers and mentors:
- That you know how to develop your skills
- That you’ve worked on projects
- What your interests are
- How you’ve grown personally and professionally
One of the best ways to showcase your progress is through a blog.
Being able to regularly practice writing by explaining what you worked on and what you learned will increase your writing skills, which will give you a competitive edge when looking for a job in the future.
You can also have an online portfolio of art pieces, video games, short stories, etc.
If you do decide to keep an online portfolio, consider keeping examples of your previous work.
While you’ll want your portfolio to be professional and up-to-date, especially if you’re showing potential employers, customers, or mentors what you can do, being able to show how you’ve progressed can be valuable.
Consider keeping private backups of your old work, or have an entirely separate page or post dedicated to your old work and what you did to improve.
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