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Roles and responsibilities

Taking small steps

Soon the updated version of my book on goal setting and time mangagment is coming out so I’m starting to make a list of my own favourite – or most useful – time management techniques. Awareness of the different parts of your life and what you want to achieve in each certainly helps you to work out how to apply time management strategies in an effective way. I first wrote this post a few years back – and now’s a good time to revisit it. In it, I talk about your roles and responsibilities and what it takes to download them, or to get them out of your head and onto a piece of paper. By the way, I suggest going for a walk, having a long bath or some other sort of mulling over time before doing your download.

Your roles and responsibilities

Picture yourself going through a typical day – do this for your work life and your family life. Now picture yourself going through a typical week. What do you see yourself doing, in your mind’s eye? What roles do you perform? You might come up with things like: Mum, Carer, Teacher, Dog Owner, Manager, Student.

You can be creative with the names you come up with, but don’t let naming the roles and responsibilities (r and rs) hold you back. Give it a straightforward name and move on. In our house, we don’t really ‘own’ our cats – in a way they own us – but I could add ‘cat owner’ to my list anyway. I know what it means.

Make a list of your roles and responsibilities – simply get them all down. Don’t forget ‘looking after me’ or ‘Me-Caretaker’ or similar – because if you don’t do that, nothing else will get done. If you have a lot of responsibilities at work, I suggest that you do a list of ‘work roles’ separately, especially if work / life balance is an issue. That means you need to do two brain downloads – one for work and one for everything else – but if you’re employed, hopefully the work review can be on their time.

You can lump roles together for the purposes of this exercise. For example, if you consider that ‘sister’ and ‘daughter’ are roles or responsibilities, then you could put ‘family member’ to cover both. If you volunteer at the dogs’ home and you do the tea at church, you could call that ‘community member’. The only time not to do this is when the role is so important to you that it needs to be on its own.

Try mind mapping

Mindmapping is a way of thinking on paper. It will help you to figure out which roles to include, and which are important, and you need to know that before figuring out how to use your time – so this is groundwork.

Grab a piece of paper – a large one if you’ve got it to hand – and put any shape in the middle. A cloud, a square, a light bulb, a sun, a smiley face. Draw whatever you like. This represents your life review. Add your name, plus ‘review’. Tony Buzan talks about this kind of mini-mind map in The Mind Map Book if you want to learn more about the technique. Or if you’d like to watch a video of me creating a mind map – and who wouldn’t? – go to this page.

  1. Make sure you’re happy with your central image.
  2. Draw branches coming out of this central image. Make them colourful.
  3. Label each one with a role or responsibility.
  4. For example, if you manage a household, you could write ‘home manager’ as  your role.
  5. Add extra branches or sub-branches at the end of each.
  6. Write on any subheadings within the role you’ve identified.
  7. The sub-roles of ‘home manager’ might be ‘paying bills’, ‘laundry,’ ‘grocery shopping’, for example.

Edit: for more on why I wrote my goal setting and time management book, and to read an extract, go here.

More soon. Until then, happy writing,





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