Communal management: An idea I can’t shake

Maybe it’s just my own lack of discipline, but I keep coming back to this idea of taking the coworking model and applying it to management of our time and goal setting. It just makes too much sense.

I need structure. I need accountability. But I don’t want a boss. So what should I do? I think the answer comes by way of peer groups who help each other replace the traditional role of a manager with something that preserves individual autonomy while still providing that external perspective that so many of us desperately need.

I’m thinking of developing a system whereby I can allocate time to work on particular types of things that are pretty universal, like managing my finances or focused creative time.

Then, I can invite others to work on those things at the same time, side by side. Everyone buys into the system, so there’s some skin in the game, and a gentle sense that someone out there will be disappointed if you don’t show up.

There’d be a consistent meeting format: some time for introductions and intention setting, then some time for work, a short break to regroup, back to work, then a recap.

Some topics I’d love to focus on:

  • CLEARING: Allocate some time just for doing those things you need to get done but have been putting off, potentially for way too long. Making that phone call you dread. Scheduling that doctor’s appointment. Paying that bill. Whatever it is, if you mark a spot on the calendar and take a deep breath, you can plow through that hard thing with the help of others doing the same.
  • MANAGING FINANCES: Whether it’s bookkeeping or sending invoices or setting and managing a budget, financial management is just one of those things that’s so easy to put off.
  • GOAL SETTING / LONG-TERM PLANNING: How is what you’re doing now supporting what you’ll be doing next month, next year, and in the years after? Without a plan, one is prone to drifting along, just treading water to make it through the first of the next month. What if we made some time to ensure we’ve got at least some kind of a plan, and we keep checking in on it on a consistent basis?
  • SALES & MARKETING: How do you get new customers or clients? How do you draw the line between getting work and doing the work? Surely it wouldn’t hurt to take some time to look at your strategy, make adjustments as needed, then get to work on what makes sense as the next step.
  • FOCUSED WORK TIME: Sometimes you just need to shut everything out and jam. That can be really hard to do, but perhaps with the help of others we can more easily ensure we have allocated the time we need to just focus on the work that really needs doing. Sometimes, just a couple of hours of truly dedicated focus time can make up for weeks of divided attention.

…I could go on and on and on.

The hardest thing for me in thinking about how to set this up is around maintaining a consistent schedule. How can I maintain a schedule that’s consistent enough for others while traveling and potentially being in different time zones?

Maybe, to get this rolling in a social setting, I’ll just need to focus on one range of time zones that should reasonably work for everyone, and plan to develop things in such a way that I can work my travels around those constructs.

Keeping a consistent routine is a challenge, but that’s the point, right? Externalizing the structure compels me to find ways to stay consistent even while maintaining a lifestyle of constant motion.

Which of the areas of work I mentioned above resonates with you most? What would you add? Let me know in the comments or email me!

PS: The code name for this project is CoBoss. Just saying.