The Buddy System

Back in the days of elementary school, we would often partner up in what was known as the buddy system. During field trips, projects, and other activities you would be assigned a buddy who would be responsible for you and you for him or her. Whether it was getting back to the bus on time or getting that book report in, you’d hold each other accountable and look out for one another. As freelancers we spend a lot of time alone, with no one telling us what must be done and by when – it can be hard to do anything some days. Perhaps a return to the buddy system is in order.

There are many tasks that need to get done, but often slip through the cracks. For me, one of these is grant applications. I almost always seem to miss grant deadlines or end up doing them last minute. I know I should be applying to grants and that I would benefit in the long run, but they’re easy to keep putting off until it’s too late. A friend and I have recently set up a few hours every week when we meet, find grants to apply for, and then write them. This way we put pressure on each other and can pool our knowledge and resources to seek out more opportunities. It also means that if we flake out on a day, we’re not only letting ourselves down but the other as well – making it much harder to just brush it off.

This is applicable to many areas – job applications, award, magazine submissions, art making, etc. Just find someone with a similar need as you and partner up to keep each other in check. You could do it with two people or with a larger group (though with too many people it can get messy). The key is someone who will benefit from it as much as you will and who can do it consistently. Please let me know if you’ve used a similar strategy for your own work and what situations you’ve applied it to.

Illustration by Diana Köhne