I'm Ben Gruber

2013 / 11 June

Embarrassing Myself to Success


As I have mentioned before, managing your time is tough when you do not have a boss. It is very easy for items to slip and to get distracted by other things you could be doing. This is especially compounded when you work from home, because all of the rest of your life’s stuff is there – the TV, the room that needs to be cleaned, dishes that need to be washed, a bed that needs to be slept in.

After deciding to give work a break for minute and go to the park on an extremely nice Tuesday, I came up with a way to force myself into break-less work. It is simple. I will embarrass myself into success. I have not actually implemented this and probably will not in reality but I thought it was an interesting idea. I was going to use Buffer, which is a program that allows you to send out scheduled social media posts. And I was going to schedule embarrassing tweets and Facebook posts to reflect my actions. For example, “Today I decided my tan was more important than getting back to a client” or “Today, I slept in while others worked hard and moved past me.” I would schedule these periodically throughout the day and if I was not around to stop them from going out then they would get sent out to my friends and peers – giving me a solid episode of embarrassment. The Scarlett letter of sorts.

Although I will not actually implement this idea, because the breaks actually help me think wider and because I would just end up finding a work around anyway, it does illustrate an important aspect of succeeding in your own environment. Accountability.

When you go to work for yourself on startups, accountability is hard to come by. I am not talking about laziness accountability here. I think most entrepreneurs have the work ethic to be working most of the time, I am more talking about “shipping” accountability. In a startup, no one is really waiting for you to launch any particular initiative, whether it be a new marketing postcard, or a new feature on the site, or an update to your email campaign.

The fact that there is no hard date or time to get anything done by is the dangerous aspect and where accountability helps. It is very easy to just drag items out, jumping between multiple initiatives and waiting until they are “absolutely perfect” because in one sense that thought process is correct – what’s another day matter? On the other hand, if someone expects something from you at a certain time, whether it be your boss or customers, you have to deliver it on that date or you look bad. A lot of the time these are artificial deadlines, but these timeframes create real expectations from real people who you care what they think.

This accountability to others makes you cut through your own made up nonsense as to why things can wait another day. It makes you choose what the important aspects of an initiative are and how perfect they have to be. For this reasons, I have been finding it useful to make meetings with friends and family to show them something new I have been working on. This works on two levels. I have to complete the feature before the meeting or I would be waisting their time and also I get to hear their feedback on it. In general people like expressing their opinion.

As I move along, I am going to continue to create outside accountability to go along with my own internal drive. The combination I am hoping produces what I am looking for.

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