A method to cross items off your to-do lists

Imagine that during your PhD project someone is helping you to reach your goals. You get personal support and encouragement. This article gives you advice about a particular way to coach and be coached: the accountability partner.

What is an accountability partner?

An accountability partner is someonewho helps you to keep on track. When times get tough, when you run into the unavoidable distractions, seemingly insurmountable obstacles and doubts, someone is there to help you.

An accountability partner is someone who will help you to reach your goals. Why? Because you’re doing the same thing for them.

An accountability partner is a peer to peer relationship. Someone you trust and respect, someone who keeps you honest and supports your progress on the track you have set for yourself.

You are not alone anymore, and you can share the joys and pains with this person. Moreover, your partner will be coaching you and praising you on along the way.

Accountability motivates people to cross items off their to-do lists.

My success story

Some weeks ago, I was participating in a 10 day challenge “Write 1000 words per day”. The first task was to find an accountability partner in the group. I found Susanne.

Every day, she sent me her text and I sent her mine. Not in order to read them, rather to show that our homework was done.

While the first week was successful, the second one  became difficult for me.  Susane was assiduous, but I had to travel to run workshops in Paris. Running a course  all day did not give me time to write anything during the day.

Every evening I was about to give up. But then I realised: if I don’t send my text today, she will not send hers tomorrow, and then the cooperation will breakdown. So at 9 p.m., once I was done with everything else, I wrote my 1000 words and sent them.

At the end of the challenge, each of us had written some 10 000 words. The quantity of words is not important. What is important is that the script of my course project (which had been pending since last year) is now finished.

The 10 days challenge is overBut we are still working together. Now I am working on the technical part of my text – and struggling with a lack of time and technical difficulties.

Every week, Susanne and I have a Skype meeting. Each of us presents our results of the week, asks for feedback or help if necessary, and defines the goals for the upcoming week.

My job requires travelling a lot; I put all my energy in my courses – and after work  I am tired.

I often do my homework at midnight the day before our meeting.

But I do it. And this is the point. If I was alone, nothing would be done. It is much easier to postpone an undone task if there is nobody around to say anything.

So even if my weekly goals are small, I reach them. Little by little, my online course takes shape.

Without those weekly meetings, I would not have started yet.


4 steps to building a successful partnership

Actually, building a successful accountability partnership is very simple. Put all the chances on your side by applying some basic rules.

  1. Find someone you trust.
  • Ensure that this person is really motivated – nothing is more disheartening than someone who always finds excuses for not having done their homework.
  • Your partner should not be in competition with you. If you are rivals, you cannot honestly help each other.
  • This person should not be your boss or have any kind of authority over you: you must be equals in order to share fears, to admit failures and to support each other.
  1. Decide how you want to work.
  • Set up regular ‘check-in’ times (this can be a text message, there’s no need to meet every time). How long should a meeting last? 5 minutes? 1 hour?
  • Clarify your goals.
  • Be explicit about what kind of support you expect.
  1. Make a plan for your meetings. These 5 questions can help you structure your weekly meetings in order to avoid going off track:
  • What have I achieved this week?
  • What have I not achieved?
  • Why? (Because it was too ambitious? Because I prioritised something else? Because I was lazy? Whatever the reason, don’t justify it to yourself, but learn from your errors in order to set achievable goals for the next deadline.
  • Do I need support? What kind of support? For what purpose?
  • What are my next goals for the next meeting?
  1. Reconsider your goals and strategies every once in a while to ensure you are on track.

Of course, this plan can be modified. Nevertheless, specially at the beginning, having a structure helps you to progress constructively without wasting time on unnecessary  conversations.

Find your accountability partner today!

Don’t wait any longer: find your accountability partner and start  working together now! You will quickly see that you’ll be much more likely to structure your working day and to take action if someone else is taking note and tracking your goals.

Are you looking for an accountability partner? Join Scriptoria’s Facebook closed group and find a partner and support!

I want to join Scriptoria’s group

Feel welcome to share your experiences with your accountability partner below!





  • 06/03/2018

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