Productivity mindsets : Identifying your key roles

When you hear the word productivity, what comes to mind for you? Doing more in less time seems like a pretty good definition. I disagree. Productivity does not mean doing more things. In fact, it is the opposite. Productive people don’t just do more things. They do more with less. They do only the most essential things and they do them well.

One key to being productive in all areas of your life is to identify the key roles you play. Perform these roles well. As a student, this means analysing your course material to determine the essence of what’s required of you. It also includes defining your own goals and reasons for learning the course material.

In the work place productivity means dismantling your job description piece by piece and analysing it. See what it is really asking of you. How you can add additional value? This helps you to trim the fat off your workload and focusing on the most essential tasks. In a job, you are not paid to just respond to emails. You are paid to solve problems. Your job is to add to the value of your organisation and provide value to the clients of the organisation. In other areas of life this looks like dismantling your own goals and looking at each piece. Ask yourself “Why am I motivated by this goal?” and start building a framework from there.

Key roles in our lives include our relationships to others. Productivity is meaningless without relationship. In relationships with other people it is important to ask “What does this relationship mean to me? Why is it important?” This can help derive a few key “job descriptions” that you fulfil in that role. For example a father’s key role to his child is a dad. There’s a world of difference between a father and a dad. Any man can be a father, but it takes love, dedication and intentionality to be a Dad.

In my own life I have identified a few key roles with which I base my goals on. Because these roles are important to me I have kept the number of them small. 5 to 7 is ideal. Otherwise I lose focus by spreading myself too thin.

Identifying these roles in your life is a process. It takes time and refining. I am sure that over time my own roles will change as i move through different stages of life, through different jobs and through different relationships. Take some time to identify the unique roles you play in your life and derive from these roles the clear goals that you hope to accomplish in each. Here are the roles I have identified in my life currently:

No man is an island. It’s great to have projects to work on. But if one has no connection to the immediate beings around them, work can quickly lose it’s meaning. This is why I’ve identified being friendly & welcoming to my neighbours as a key role in my life as a person. This kind of work requires time & effort just like any other kind of work. It’s also rewarding. It can give you an incredible sense of context and show you that you are not isolated. Context is so valuable for me. It is an anchor for truth. You have many things in common with the people who live close to you. I think life is too short to not acknowledge this. I want to make the most of it.

I think a good friend can be a well defined role. A friend is someone that offers their time, love and attention to another person without any price. I want to be this person for a few people in my life. I couldn’t offer myself as a close friend to every person I come across but I can be a close friend to a few people. I think If i do this I can call myself an effective friend. I don’t want to quantify this role too much but a basic outline of my responsibilities in a friendship is helpful for me to remember. I use a system for tracking who I have kept in contact with. It’s been helpful.

Music Enhancer
As an audio engineer my job is to work with musicians to make a recorded song sound amazing. I do this by getting the highest quality recordings of the musicians’ best performances. Then I mix and master the tracks to the best of my ability. When I recognise this simple defined role, audio engineering becomes less complicated to me. The purpose of the profession is to enhance a recorded musical performance. This is so that the emotion and message of a piece of music can connect with a listener. This leads me onto my next role as a person, an emotion communicator.

Story Teller
As a musician and songwriter I believe my main role is to express emotions and a message with clarity through music. I do this by honing my skills on the instruments i play as well as improving my songwriting ability by writing as many songs as possible each year. Like learning a new language, my skill in communicating with a digital or live audience improves over time by writing many songs.

Leonard Cohen identified his role as a communicator of a specific message when he wrote the song ‘Hallelujah‘. Because he knew his role as a songwriter it pushed him towards a higher standard of work. He spent hours refining the song into what it is today by writing many other verses to get the lyrics just right. He had a specific emotional message he wanted to convey. I’m glad he took the time to do so.

Content Creator
A few years ago I started making YouTube videos as a hobby. That hobby has diversified and now I make various kind of content for social media. I have identified my role as a content creator. I have a passion for making compelling, entertaining content for the internet. As a result I have carved out time every day to work on making great content and thinking up more ideas for blog posts and videos. Now that I have identified my key role. I am much more prepared to focus on the work that I need to do in this specific role.

Resource Connector & Data applier
I currently volunteer at a Non-profit organisation in West Philadelphia called People’s Emergency Centre (PEC). I help out in the Digital Inclusion department (DI) . The aim of the DI department is to provide free computer education to the West Philadelphia Community as well as distribute refurbished computers to young people who complete the various after-school programs that it runs. My role is to provide administrative support to those who head up this work. A few months into my volunteering at PEC I realised I could more effectively summarise my responsibilities there.

After an analysis of my responsibilities I renamed my position. It changed from Program Coordinator to Resource Connector & Data Applier. This is because I found that a majority of my tasks included connecting people with the right information resources.

Love & Honour Giver
As a member of my biological family I am called to honour and respect my parents and return to them the love that they have shown me as I have continued to grow up. It’s also my job to love and keep in contact with my sister who lives in a far away country. Some people say long distance relationships are impossible. Well, I have a long distance relationship with my family and it’s pretty great. It is my deep hope that I will be able to take care of my parents in their old age and not have them live in a nursing home. What a dishonour that would be to them! By identifying this role I can now devote time in my schedule to making sure that I maintain the relationships I have with my family via email, Skype and sending letters and gifts.

So here’s what it comes down to. You may have far different roles in your life from mine right now. Whatever they are, they will change over time as you move in and out of different contexts. When setting goals, it is important to remember these key roles that you have named and defined. You get to define them. And so, the decisions you make are all up to you and the roles you have defined for this time in your life. Check in with them and review them regularly so that they stay relevant. Change them if you need to. I have found that these roles give me a great sense of perspective and allow me to be more intentional about my goal setting and relying less on desire and whim. Reader, I hope his has been helpful for you. Go out there and make a difference!