Working with an accountability partner to develop strong habits is one of the most impactful actions you can take to achieve your personal and professional goals.
Research shows that 50% of professionals say that their habits have played the biggest role in their overall success, far more than factors like leveraging their natural strengths (25%) and the decisions they’ve made (22%).
The reason why habits are so powerful is that ensure you’re consistently doing all of the tasks required for success. Once you develop them, the supercharge your productivity, however, getting there can be tough. Habit development is often tedious and difficult when you have a lot of moving parts in your life and no one holding you accountable.
If you’ve struggled with other accountability partners because weekly check-ins just aren’t enough to adopt consistent habits in a chaotic environment, a virtual assistant can be a great fit. Not only will they hold you accountable for completing your priorities, but they’ll also help with tedious tasks along the way so you can focus on the activities that drive your success.
Here’s how to get the most out of your relationship.
Set Clear Priorities
The first step in leveraging an online accountability partner is getting very clear on your priorities. This includes both your goals and the habits you need to adopt to achieve them.
As you’re setting these priorities, write out why they’re important to you and all of the sub-tasks that go into each habit.
Here’s an example:
Goal: Expand my network by having one meeting a week with a new professional connection.
- Attend one virtual networking event per month
- Post three times a week on LinkedIn
- Send connection requests to three new people who I’ve met via networking events, other friends, or LinkedIn groups
- Schedule a meeting with one of them
- Send follow-up
- Create cadence to stay in touch with them
List out every task you need to do achieve your goal and repeat this process with every priority that you want your accountability partner to help with. Not only does this help you gain a clear picture of what reaching success is going to take, but it also gives your virtual assistant enough context to hold you accountable in a proactive and meaningful way.
Adopt an Online Accountability System
To ensure your accountability partner supports your success instead of taking up too much of your time, adopt a system to provide quick, asynchronous updates on your progress. This ensures you stay aligned even if you only have time to sync live once a week or so.
A successful system will generally have these features:
- An intuitive UI that you enjoy using
- The ability to set deadlines and reminders
- Lets you create task lists under key priorities
Ultimately, it can be any tool that gives you and your virtual assistant visibility into the daily activities you need to do to achieve your goals.
Not sure what tool is right for you? Check out our article How to Choose the Best Task Management App to figure out which one best fits your needs.
Once you’ve chosen a tool, fill it in with all of your priorities and habits. Your virtual assistant will hold you accountable for keeping the system updated and completing all of your tasks on-time.
Create a Check-In and Reminder Cadence
Having an effective check-in and reminder cadence is critical for leveraging an online accountability partner. This cadence determines how often your virtual assistant reaches out to you to remind you about upcoming deadlines and to check if you completed tasks.
The perfect cadence is the one that best motivates you to achieve your goals so, you need to think about what kinds of messaging supports you and which you’re most likely to ignore.
Here are some best practices to help you get started:
- Strive to meet Friday afternoon or Monday morning to set priorities for the following week
- Determine how often you want to receive check-ins and reminders and if your preference varies based on the type of activity
- Create an escalation path for important reminders. Ex. email, chat, phone call, with defined wait times between each escalation
- Reassess your goals quarterly and update them if anything has changed
As you develop a strong working relationship with your virtual assistant, you may find that certain reminders are extremely helpful while others are an interruption. Continually refine this cadence until you’ve developed a strong flow and are consistently achieving your goals.
Take Tedious Tasks Off Your Plate
The biggest benefit of hiring a virtual assistant to be your online accountability partner is that they will not only give you reminders but will also tackle tedious tasks to make it easier for you to achieve your goals.
In the earlier example of trying to build a consistent networking habit, there were several ways that a virtual assistant can make it easier to achieve that goal including:
- Finding relevant networking events and LinkedIn groups
- Scanning LinkedIn to identify conversation opportunities from people’s posts
- Creating reminder cadences to stay in touch
- Adding new connections to a contact management system, if applicable
A virtual assistant can tackle almost any repetitive task so that you can focus on the nuanced, strategic activities that drive your progress instead of the back-end processes.
In many cases, assigning your VA supporting tasks can add an extra layer of accountability by providing another trigger for you to sustain the positive habits you’re trying to build.
Enable Your Virtual Assistant to Measure the Results that Matter
Even with an accountability partner, one of the hardest parts of adopting new habits is sustaining excitement for the end goal, especially if you’re striving for an on-going or long-term achievement.
The key to endurance is staying focused on the ultimate result you’re trying to achieve by gaining satisfaction from the milestones along the way. Often when you’re in a day-to-day grind, you lose sight of your progress. A virtual assistant can provide bursts of inspiration by bringing you back to the results that matter.
To enable them to do so, share the “why” behind your goals and tie those aspirations to personally meaningful results. As your accountability partner, your virtual assistant will remind you when you hit those milestones and celebrate with you.
For example, if your goal was to network frequently to source partnerships that will help your company reach 10mm in revenue and you consider it significant when you reach the negotiating table, they’ll give you updates about how many prospects you’ve reached that stage with. When you’re extremely busy and a deal didn’t work out, these updates remind you that you’re making great progress, even if it doesn’t always feel like it.
The best accountability partners not only stay on-track with day-to-day activities but they also give you the support you need to convert those activities into meaningful results.
Learn More About Virtual Assistant Services
Want an accountability partner and support in boosting your overall productivity? Our virtual assistants are trained to help busy professionals and teams better utilize technology, build better habits, and focus on what they do best. Contact us for a free consultation to learn more about how we can support you.
About the author: Emily leads Prialto's content production and distribution team with a special passion for helping people realize success. Her work and collaborations have appeared in Entrepreneur, Inc. and the Observer among others.