Enlisting the Magic of an Accountability Loop to Tackle Your To Do List

Photo of person climbing and getting a helping hand

I heard from a lot of readers after my last essay on integrating work and home. Many people seem to feel that if they don’t stand up for their personal time, they won’t get it. And yet, even claiming the time still seems to bring with it some guilt. We think “but I have so much to do” or “this feels self-indulgent” or “but no one else seems to be taking time off.”

We aren’t just deprogramming from the cult of overwork. We are also challenging a cult of personal productivity.

That “we” includes me. As much as I preach from my coaching soapbox on the virtues of presence and getting clear about commitments, I still think about ‘getting things done’ before I notice that I am feeling overburdened, underappreciated and disconnected. Try tackling your to-do list from that emotional place! It’s a perfect place to breed resentment. To boot, there isn’t much peace of mind in your down time if you’re stuck there, and no one really wants to hang with you. (Ask my kids or my husband.)

At the same time, I am not about to leave it all behind and head for an ashram. I still have kids and a husband I love, a business to run, and many personal commitments that are meaningful to me. So what gives?

Partners for Personal Growth

In reflecting on what I do to move forward without being caught in the personal productivity cult, I thought of the people who make my life easier and why. A pattern emerged …

In the last few months, I managed to get some work done around the house with my handyman’s help, which helped me dig into some garage stuff that needed to go. A professional organizer I hired for my business several years ago filed personal paperwork for me and helped me think about what decluttering I can do as my kids start to move on, and my closet got organized for spring and fall with a stylist I’ve known for years.

For my business, I’ve been working with a dynamic coach who is challenging me to look at myself as a leader – in how I am shaping my new brand, where else I am putting my attention and talents and what I want in my life going forward and what I don’t want to keep doing.

All of these endeavors involved several steps and some time, but I feel really good about getting engaged and enjoying the benefits of having tackled them.

So what happened?

I realized I created accountability loops to support me in reaching my goals. Each of those partners brings fresh energy and perspective to the task at hand. Of course, I am careful to choose partners who are open and flexible and willing to teach me and move at my pace. I trust them. They trust me. The work seems lighter, and I am enjoying myself more.

I am also slowly letting go of the ideas that it’s all up to me, and I’d better do it now. Instead, I ask for help and make sure there’s some fun involved. I’ve stopped focusing so much on productivity and started to enjoy collaboration and the satisfaction that comes from working with others. The to-do list is not running my life any more.