A simple hack to boost accountability

As always, my journey towards increasing productivity is on going. This is partly to mitigate boredom at work and also to boost my focus when I work on my own things outside of work.

Today, I want to introduce a very very very simple hack that will increase your accountability by multiple times. 

Wait for it...



The simple trick is this: write down the time you started a task on a piece of paper and place it somewhere visible.

Why is this useful?

First, let me make a conjecture based on my observation. Humans are so dumb. They tend to lack self-discipline. The second law of Thermodynamics is true - entropy will always increase in nature ( Don't ask me if I googled it. After all, googling is one thing that I learned the best). Anyways, humans are dumb, they want to do something else that will give them an instant gratification. 

Case in point, when you start studying for an exam, you almost instantly want to clean up your room, when your room is always a wasteland and you can't care less. It's because human beings don't want boredom and cleaning up will give them dopamine release and you'll feel better, at least than studying.

If you are doing some other task, the same thing holds true. You will try to channel your focus into another task you aren't currently doing. This always happens, so we need to conscientiously fight this back. Writing the time you started something seems to do the job.

When you write down your beginning time, you are forced to feel more accountable. For instance, I started singing at 9:54. Singing isn't all that interesting if you suck at it and I always end up playing the guitar or doing something else because the practice is actually quite frustrating. You suck but if you have to repeat multiple times, it's not going to be fun. You won't be releasing a constant stream of dopamine. So I wrote down the time. The first temptation happened within 10 minutes. So I looked at my watch and thought "wow it's only been 10 minutes and I'm already bored. What the hell Tae." So I suck it up, keep on doing it. Same things happened a few times until I hit my 30-minute mark.

Although you might say, hey half an hour is nothing. Yeah it's a pretty short amount time, but doing something that's not so pleasant for 30 minutes could feel like forever and it is very challenging. But by writing the "time code" on my note I consciously and sub-consciously kept on reminding myself that I shouldn't give up, which made me to deliberately practice on singing. 

So I'd say this is a very effective method to force yourself doing something you don't enjoy (or things you enjoy as well) for a longer time. We may not have high expectations on other people, but if we don't meet our own standards, we get very angry/shameful and this makes us work harder.

9:54 is when I started practicing. Temptations kick in sooner than you expect.

9:54 is when I started practicing. Temptations kick in sooner than you expect.

Taeyang You