Finding a Virtual Accountability Buddy: Dos and Don’ts

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

You’re checking up on your favorite chonky cat on TikTok for the fourth time today when you’re hit with a sudden realization: It’s time to get real about finding an accountability buddy. These problem sets are not going to do themselves!

What is an accountability buddy? Also known as an accountability partner or a habits ride-or-die, an accountability buddy is someone who holds you accountable to a goal and vice versa. 

If Focusmate has proven anything, it’s this: There is power in working on your goals with another person, even if that person is halfway across the world from you. 

Here are a few dos and don’ts to manifest the accountability buddy of your dreams:

Part 1: Finding a Buddy

Do: Choose someone who is committed to the work.

Asking a close friend to be your buddy is fine as long as they are committed to your shared goal—getting things done. Make sure that you’re on the same page about using the time to work and not hang out. 

Do: Be open to partnering with someone new.

One of the best things about Focusmate is getting to cowork with people from all over the world. Together, you share a common commitment to accountability and productivity. Take advantage of this opportunity to meet new people and to cheer them on to meet their goals.

Do: Emphasize consistency above all other traits

If you have to choose between someone working on the exact same thing as you (say, particle physics) and someone who will commit to the same time every single week, choose the latter. Studies have shown that when it comes to building and keeping a habit, consistency is key.

Tools like Calendly and Doodle can help you find a time when you are both free. Then use Focusmate’s invite feature to lock in sessions with your buddy.

Part 2: Structuring the Work Sessions

Do: Be positive, encouraging, and attentive

Positivity and encouragement are game-changers. Although every partnership is different, almost all of us benefit from that supportive vibe. In particular, it can really light up your partner when you listen closely, ask questions, and actually know what your partner is up to. 

Do: Be specific about your plan.

Set a hyper-specific, actionable goal for your time together. This could be, “Review 100 flash cards for real estate exam” or “Edit chapter two of my book.”

A good rule of thumb is that a specific goal is something you can easily declare as complete or incomplete, and can be accomplished in under one hour. Break bigger tasks into smaller chunks as needed.

Do: Reflect honestly and vulnerably at the end of sessions

Be honest about how you did. Reflection can help you improve continuously. But be light-hearted about it! Getting down and shaming yourself is only a distraction. We’re all human, so be gentle with yourself and your partner. 

Don’t: Mix work and play.

Even if you’re teaming up with a close friend, keep it professional and stay on task. Am I saying you can’t enjoy yourself? Not at all. You probably will. But to be a good accountability partner, you need to hold boundaries for the time that you’ve set aside to work.

Do: Celebrate wins with your buddy.

This is critical! Don’t forget to celebrate yourself and your buddy. A little celebration goes a long way and literally provides brain chemicals that help you maintain motivation, focus, and even pleasure.

Part 3: Maintaining the Partnership

Don’t: Let the commitment slide.

If your partner’s commitment to showing up consistently, on time, and with a seriousness of purpose begins to erode, let them know that needs to change or you’ll need a new partner. One of the benefits of a service like Focusmate is that it upholds this standard on your behalf, so you don’t have to worry about “being the bad guy.” 

Don’t: Put all your accountability eggs in one basket. 

While it’s tempting to find the one “dream accountability partner,” people’s lives change so much that even if you do find that person, it can be hard to maintain a partnership. Consider recruiting a handful of partners. This is another place where Focusmate shines by connecting you with thousands of potential candidates.

Do: Be human and understanding.

Life happens. If you need to cancel or reschedule, let your buddy know. If something comes up and you can’t consistently meet at the agreed upon time, that’s okay. Just make sure to communicate. In the same way, if your buddy needs to cancel, hop on Focusmate to get matched with someone else. Keeping the same consistent time will pay off in the long run.

Have questions or tips on how to create epic accountability partnerships? Drop them in the comments! 

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