Whether you’re trying to succeed at school or work, you might be feeling stuck, unproductive, or even lonely. It's hard to keep yourself accountable if you don't have strategies to do so. Plus, if you have ADHD, you might also want extra support. An accountability partner can the secret weapon to help you overcome these tough feelings. Imagine having your own productivity accomplice, a sidekick in your quest for greatness.
In this guide, we’ll explore the traits of a stellar accountability partner, share why family and friends might not be your ideal dream team, and give you our checklist for infusing your collaboration with rituals that fuel success. You will learn how to easily become a great accountability partner and find one for yourself. If you'd like a shortcut, try joining virtual accountability arrangements like Flow Club.
What is an Accountability Partner?
An accountability partner helps you achieve your goals by holding you responsible to your commitments, and sometimes accompanying you in working towards your goals. They might also be called a body double, study buddy, or study partner, and the level of commitment and nature of interactions can vary depending on how you set it up. Regardless, of the setup, ideally your accountability partner is someone you can easily access in real life or online.
Accountability partner definition
An accountability partner refers to someone you team up with to keep yourself honest and on track towards accomplishing your goals. You check in with each other on a regular basis to go over your progress. You can also find time to work alongside each other to keep each other motivated and progressing. The relationship is a commitment to support each other and make sure both of you are making strides for a period of time.
Body doubling and working alongside your accountability partner
Body doubling is a well-known productivity strategy within the ADHD community, where having someone else around enhances focus and accountability. This is a way for accountability partners to help each other make progress. In addition to regular check-ins, getting work done alongside one another creates a shared sense of accountability, pulling you into your tasks and away from distractions. Science suggests that the presence of others creates positive social pressure that motivates you to use your time wisely.
Why Accountability Partners Are Helpful with Goal Attainment
Having an accountability partner is like having a secret weapon in your personal development that does not depend on your own willpower. They keep you motivated, provide feedback, and ensure you're surrounded by a culture of accomplishment while aligning with psychological and motivational theories that boost your chances of success.
Motivation and support
An accountability partner provides positive reinforcement to help you achieve goals. They offer continuous support, cheering you on during the highs and helping you through the lows. In online accountability groups like Flow Club, you might even get to know the familiar faces you see often and become internet friends!
Honest feedback on progress
Having to regularly check in with your accountability partner ensures that you are honest about your progress (or lack thereof). It could be a bit of “tough love” along with relentless support and positivity. Your accountability partner can offer a fresh perspective on your progress, helping you to identify areas where you need improvement and celebrate your achievements that you may not have noticed.
You are the company you keep
Even if you are constantly surrounded by co-workers, peers, or classmates, finding the ones who are dedicated enough to be accountable to can significantly influence your commitment and work ethic. It fosters a culture of productivity, making it more likely for both partners to succeed. Scientists have studied this effect and called it the Human Motivation Theory.
The presence of an accountability partner can trigger a dopaminergic response on its own, especially when you work together. Even if you can’t complete all of your tasks or if the tasks are boring, getting to see and even co-work with your accountability partner can feel really rewarding than feeling like you’re on your own.
How To Be a Great Accountability Partner
To be a responsible accountability partner, you should commit to showing up for your partner. Here are the characteristics that make for a great accountability partner:
- Invested in the accountability relationship
- A schedule that aligns with the partner
- Honesty with positivity
- An open mind that is slow to judge
Here are some common mistakes to watch for when setting up an accountability partnership. Consider this your accountability partner checklist.
You might not want to pick your family & friends
A friend or a family member is often the worst accountability partner. While they’re easily accessible, they can quickly turn into distractions. It’s essential to choose people who will respect your boundaries while working, stay focused, and not drain you emotionally or cognitively. Try finding someone outside your family and close friends, like an acquaintance, classmate, coworker, or join a virtual accountability group instead.
Seek someone with similar commitment level or goals
If your partner isn’t gung-ho about focusing on their goals and showing up to check in, they’re probably not the right person to partner with. Talk about your goals first and understand each other's "why" for wanting to achieve those goals. Think about the people you admire for their dedication, and ask them to be your partner for a fixed period of time. If you are drawing a blank or don't feel close enough to ask, join an online accountability app like Flow Club where you can more easily find people who share your commitment level and goals.
Establish shared structure and ritual
Problems like task paralysis and time blindness can plague your workday and workweek if you’re not careful. Fortunately, an accountability partner gives you the excuse to set up useful structure and rituals to help you make steady progress. Set up a short weekly recurring meeting to go over an action plan and evaluate each other’s progress. On top of that, add a few live co-working session or two to help make sure progress is being made. Finally, have a ritual of celebrating progress after each check in or co-working session that you can look forward to to help keep you motivated.
Cultivate a shame-free environment
Listen, if you goal is to achieve something that appears small, like making sure you floss regularly, your accountability partner shouldn’t judge you. When working, if you can only focus for fifteen-minute increments or you like to use a laptop stand even in public to help your posture – they shouldn’t judge you for that either! Accountability buddies should be there to support you, no matter how you work and what you need towork on. Be yourself, your whole self, and find partners who support that.
Establish healthy boundaries
Before you start seeking accountability in a partner, set some boundaries yourself. What do you want your relationship with your accountability buddies to look like? Are you seeking advice or just support? How tough should the tough love be? Do you want to do something together or work on separate tasks? Know what you want before going into your first session to avoid conflict with your partner.
Start with logistics
Scheduling is everything when it comes to accountability. You’re going to need to determine when you’ll want to meet with your partner, how often, what format, and where. Are you seeking real-time accountability partners or asynchronous? You’ll quickly fall away from your goals if you’re not in alignment logistically with your accountability partner.
How To Find an Accountability Partner Today
Now that you know what it takes to be a stellar accountability partner, get outside your comfort zone and find peers who share your enthusiasm and commitment.
If you want to get started right away, take advantage of the internet! The best way to start is by signing up for online accountability groups like Flow Club. In Flow Club, people around the world join live accountability and co-working sessions with each other, checking in at the beginning and the end to help each other make steady progress towards their goals. From the community, you can meet others who you'd have an easier time getting into accountability partner relationships with.