Full speed ahead! That's a typical day at work for most people nowadays. The opportunities to reflect and think about where we’re heading are few, even though most of us know it’s important. Research from Harvard Business School shows, that the employees who spent a few moments each day reflecting performed 23% better after only 10 days. But how do you put that into practice?
"When we fall behind even though we're working hard, our response is often just to work harder. But in terms of working smarter, our research suggests that we should take time for reflection."
We feel you. To reflect on your work situation is easier said than done. But as with all new habits, starting small is always a good approach. According to the study mentioned, you don’t even need that much time to see results, just 15 minutes a day are enough. How you do it is not that important, as long as you document your thoughts in a way that forces you to become more specific. Journal, send an email to yourself, make a note on your phone or use a good old-fashioned dictaphone.
How do you put it into practice?
Once you have a preferred way of documenting your experiences, the next challenge is to find the breathing space in your everyday life to make time for reflection. We’ve written down a few things that work for us, but don’t let that limit your creativity! You might have a context offering unique opportunities - your way is the high way!
- Change location: Leave your phone, computer and only bring some paper and pen to another room. Don’t let anyone interfere with your important task, if you are sitting where people can see you, we encourage you to put on a busy and concentrated face.
- Time: Most of us are slaves of our own calendars and making an appointment with yourself is a great way to make it a priority.
- Order a complicated coffee: Pass an ambitious cafe at lunch and order a complicated takeaway coffee from a pretentious barista (think “double vanilla macchiato on low-fat milk without foam, topped with caramel drizzle”) and write down your thoughts while waiting.
- Make a detour: Take a longer journey home, the bus instead of the subway? (Walking is not recommended if you do not have a sixth sense that keeps track of other pedestrians and vehicles around you).
- Use &frankly: If you are already a customer of ours, pick one of our questions that triggers self-reflection and schedule it weekly, preferably with a few different questions each day. If you are not a customer, you’re welcome to contact us :)
Suggestions for questions
Which questions to ask yourself is not absolutely crucial, time will show what triggers your thoughts the most. To help you on your way, here are some first ideas for questions you can ask yourself:
- What have I learned today?
- What could I have done differently in the previous meeting to have been more effective?
- Is there anything I avoid doing? Why? What’s holding me back?
- What do I need to change to be able to move forward?
- What mistakes have I made, and how can I help others avoid them?
- What did I do last time I created a “wow effect” at work?
- What do I need to focus for personal development? What’s stopping me?
Now, there are no more excuses - just do it! As with all new things, practice makes perfect. According to people who know stuff, it takes 66 days to establish a new habit. So keep at it! Once you've reached your goal, and established that iterative way of working towards success that everyone talks about, you have boosted your own ability to accomplish.
Don´t work harder - work smarter. Good luck!