Book ending is one of those skills that once you hear about you wonder why you hadn’t heard of it much sooner.
What’s the chore about your business you dislike the most? One of my least favorites was setting up my initial bookkeeping. I hated it and it filled me with fear for some reason. I gather this is fairly common.
When I started to track my numbers I wanted to stop. But book ending saved the day, multiple times.
If I felt I couldn’t start or couldn’t continue that day I’d call my friend Kate. She’s the one who taught me about book ending. I’d say something like “I’m going to spend 10 minutes working on my numbers.” She’d respond “Great, talk to you after a bit.”
Notice there is no discussion about why I need to book end. I just give her my pledge, hang up and hopefully begin to work. Anything may happen.
If I don’t get started I’m supposed to call her back shortly and just say, “well it’s been an hour and I’ve done nothing.” She might simply say thanks and we’d hang up.
Sometimes I’d ask her if she had time to listen to me a bit. If she agrees I might try to explain why I hadn’t done what I’d said I would do. She never judged, ever.
Or sometimes I’d call and say ‘Wow! I did my 10 minutes!” She’d say something supportive and we’d both go on with whatever we were doing. Once in a while I’d call and say, “You won’t believe it, but I worked on those numbers for 45 minutes straight.” That would be cause for a brief celebration.
Do you see what’s happening? I making myself accountable. My friend knows how this works so she doesn’t engage me in conversation or make me wrong when I fail to do something I said I would do. I become hyper aware when I’m breaking my agreement and often that’s exactly what I need to keep it.
In turn if she’s feeling pressure to do something that is hard for her to do she will call me. Most recently she said something like “I’m going to spend 20 minutes sorting the hall closet.” I respond “Good for you!” Twenty-five minutes she calls and says “Yippee. I did it for a full 25 minutes and got more of it done than I expected.”
We know each other well enough to be sure we’ll be heard even if the promise message is left on an answering machine and heard many hours after it was recorded.
As long as both parties understand the game and agree to it, it works. I’ve not only used book ending on my finances, but on making a bed and doing the dishes, and, of course my writing.
Try it and let us know how it works for you in comments.
Create well and book end often,