Using Purposeful Structure To Keep Yourself Accountable

| May 8, 2022

The first “S” in PASS is Structures. The idea here is to “construct or arrange according to a plan; give a pattern or organization to.” This definition of Structures helps keep yourself, your team, your business, and your life in order and as structured as YOU desire. 

Your smartphone is the most straightforward tool to create structures to maintain accountability. But as a warning there are some statistics you need to know and some steps you should take to most effectively use this tool for accountability. 

Here’s what some of the statistics say: the average smartphone user gets between 40- 60 push notifications every day. If you are awake for an average of 16 hours a day, this means you will receive 2.5-3.75 notifications every hour. Most of these will occur in the middle of your working day creating a constant interruption to your workflow. 

Before you read more about this habit, if you’re like most entrepreneurs, you probably could go without a few notifications/alerts on your phone. Read through this list of notifications you don’t really need. 

  • Emails
  • Social media apps
  • News
  • Sports
  • Music
  • Podcasts
  • Games

If you are honest with yourself, you don’t need these notifications. You’re going to check your email (you’re probably addicted), you’re going to check the scores, and you’ll listen to your favorite song or podcast. Missing a social media or game ping isn’t going to change your life. We all know watching the news is a painful experience and should be consumed in limited amounts. 

Some business owners have even turned off text notifications or Whatsapp notifications. If you want to be present, stay self-aware, be highly accountable, and keep growing, consider turning off as many notifications as possible.

The statistics show that 66% of us are addicted to our phones. The statistics do not make phones bad, but we need to be wise in how, when, and why we use our devices. 

With the Structures part of the Accountability PASS, you are taking back control of your habits, primarily how you use your phone. 

The only notifications on my phone are my text messages, phone calls, and calendar alerts. That’s it! A few of my apps have badges only if they have a message feature. Otherwise, no other notifications are happening on my phone. It is glorious. Now, if you can help me rid myself of my YouTube and Netflix addictions, I’ll be set. 

Before you move on to the specifics about this habit, be bold and turn off as many notifications as possible. 

Did you do it? 

I recently had a conversation with a client who was very distracted by his Facebook app. He runs a 9-figure real estate business, and the distraction felt like “10,000 pounds” on his shoulders. 

When we were having this conversation, he was in his car using his phone. I said, “What can you do about this?” He wasn’t sure. I said, “Can you delete the app?” He said, “I guess so.” 

I then challenged him to delete it right then and there. After asking if I was serious, he hesitantly said okay, picked up his phone, and deleted the app. Right after, he said he felt 5000 pounds lighter. 

These distractions prevent you from more effectively using the powerful tool you carry around every day. Reference the list above and turn off those notifications. 

Now that you’ve done that, below are tools and processes to help you be successful with accountability.

Digital To-Do List

This is the key structure-creating app. It is the third lobe of my brain. The creator of the Getting Things Done method has said, “Your mind is for having thoughts, not keeping them.” His perspective may be a bit extreme, but it’s the idea to get rid of the stupid stuff and trust the structures you’ve put in place to help you accomplish things. 

My to-do list weapon of choice is Todoist. If a task is on the list, there is an extreme probability I’ll get it done, even if it’s crappy things like cold-calling, detailed work, or setting up a meeting that I don’t want to attend. 

This tool creates structure around the things that need to get done, tracks them, alerts you (though I don’t use notifications), and is an excellent reference for ideas and future tasks. Additionally, this tool allows you to forget the little things that need to be done and trust the task to pop up on the list at the right time. Invariably, they do, and then you can get it done. 

Digital Calendar

The digital calendar is vital for maintaining structure. I can’t tell you how many times a calendar notification has saved me from being late to an appointment or missing it altogether. These are notifications worth leaving on. 

The notifications remind you to go to meetings, leave on time for things, and start a particular task for accountability purposes. They also can remind you to shift your thinking back to the new mindsets and habits you want to create.

Pen and Paper

Another tool that helps keep you accountable is writing down your goals and intentions on paper. If you want to see something improve, achieve something big, or break a destructive habit/mindset, write it on various pieces of paper. 

Next, take those sheets of paper and put them in places that you will see throughout the day. These aren’t simple sticky note reminders. These papers should have big things that matter in your life and business.

The idea here is that if you want to achieve these goals, you need to have a relationship with them. To have a relationship with someone or something, you need to see them a lot.

SAGE Leaders know the power of structure and deploy it in dozens of ways into their leadership and life. These three structures have changed my life and business, along with all the entrepreneurs and leaders I’ve coached. Here’s a list of several more ideas you can use. 

  • Build a new habit on an old one. Example: add the new habit to your morning coffee routine. 
  • Email yourself
  • Sticky notes
  • Use acronyms and alliteration
  • Schedule the call, meeting, or flight before you’re ready. 
  • Prep for the “thing” the day before
  • Create a contract with your accountability partner
  • Plan to reward yourself once you accomplish the goal
  • Post a video on social media telling people what you plan to do

Your role is to choose the best tools to remain committed to your plans and dreams. 

One more example. I’ve heard of a coach that requires his clients to write a $10,000 check to a political party. If they don’t follow through on their commitments, the coach sends the client’s opposite party the check.

Now that can create some accountability! The coach has only had to send the check once. 

What’s one thing you can start using to create more accountability? 

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