The Power of Reflecting

by Laura Sue Johnson

Power of reflecting

How often do you slow down and take the time to reflect on how things are going at work? Odds are good that it’s not as often as you’d like. It is easy to get swept away with the pace of the world, but the price of this pace is steep.

If we do not take the time to reflect on our work and effort, we are likely to lose steam, repeat mistakes, and lack perspective for how far we’ve come. Let’s take a look at simple ways we can incorporate reflection into our workflow and the benefits of the regular practice of reflection

Evaluated experience is the best teacher.

John Maxwell

Reflect on your Work Day (10 minutes)

Whether you take a few minutes at the end of your workday or in the evening as you wind down for rest, taking just a few minutes to reflect on your day has several benefits. It can help you determine what you would like to repeat or recreate in future work days. It can help eliminate things that are not working, and it can help you reframe your mindset going forward. So, what does this reflection look like? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Reflect on tasks, conversations, and even your calendar. Write down any thoughts that come to mind. Pause and observe - what went well? What didn’t go well? What would you do differently?
  • This is a great opportunity to also pause and look for things you are grateful for at the end of the day. Even choosing one thing that you’re grateful for can help your brain process the day in a positive way (regardless of how the day really went).
  • Ask yourself, “What’s one thing I would like to do differently tomorrow?”

Reflect on the Past Week (30 minutes)

Maybe you do this on Fridays, or perhaps it could be a bit of reflection you carve out on Sunday evenings before heading into a new week. In Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus Planners, there are a few questions shared for reflecting on the past week. Here are some suggestions that you may find helpful:

  • What did you accomplish this past week?
  • How can last week inform what your top 3 priorities will be going into this new week (and then, at the end of the week, you can reflect on how those 3 priorities panned out)?
  • What worked this past week? What didn’t work?
  • What do you want to start, stop, and keep doing?
  • Is there anything you need to let go of (whether it be a task or an emotion tied to the week)?
  • Can you delegate anything that you did not get to?

Reflect on a Recent Project (10-15 minutes)

It’s always exciting to finish a big project at work. It’s even more fun to celebrate! If you particularly enjoy project-based work, it’s easy to jump into the next project without spending too much time reflecting on the one you just wrapped up. Consider taking some time to reflect on your next project. What questions would you add to this list?

  • What aspects of the project went well, and what were the areas that could have been improved?
  • Did I effectively manage my time and resources throughout the project? If not, what adjustments could I make next time?
  • How well did I communicate with stakeholders, team members, and other relevant parties during the project? Were there any communication breakdowns that impacted outcomes?
  • What were the biggest challenges I faced during the project, and how did I overcome them?
  • Did I leverage the strengths of my team members effectively, or were there missed opportunities for collaboration and delegation?
  • Did I maintain a positive attitude and demonstrate resilience in the face of setbacks or obstacles?
  • How did I handle feedback and criticism throughout the project, and did I use it constructively to improve my performance?
  • In what ways did I demonstrate leadership during the project, and how could I further develop my leadership skills for future endeavors?
  • What specific actions or changes will I implement based on my reflections to ensure continuous improvement in future projects?
  • How did I prioritize tasks and make decisions throughout the project, and were there opportunities to optimize my decision-making process?
  • What support or resources did I lack during the project, and how can I proactively address these gaps in future endeavors?

Reflect on a Recent Training or Workshop You’ve Attended (10-15 minutes)

No one likes to waste time or money, right? So why would we attend conferences, workshops, or webinars time and again if we are not certain we’re gaining useful knowledge from these experiences? We believe in being life-long learners, but we’re not learning if new information is not translated into action to propel you forward. Here is a list of questions you can contemplate when you are reflecting on these experiences to ensure that you are using your time and resources wisely:

  • How am I better from this?
  • Am I doing things differently now?
  • What were the most valuable insights or learnings I gained from the workshop/conference?
  • What specific ideas or strategies resonated with me the most, and how can I apply them in my work or projects?
  • Did I identify any gaps in my knowledge or skills during the workshop/conference, and how do I plan to address them?
  • How can I share what I learned with my team or colleagues to benefit the broader organization?
  • Did I establish any new connections or networking opportunities during the event, and how can I leverage these relationships moving forward?
  • What obstacles or challenges might prevent me from implementing what I learned, and how can I overcome them?
  • How can I measure the impact of implementing new ideas or strategies from the workshop/conference on my performance or project outcomes?
  • What follow-up actions do I need to take to reinforce my learning and ensure continuous improvement in my professional development?
  • In what ways did the workshop/conference inspire or motivate me to explore new areas or pursue additional learning opportunities?
  • What specific resources or support do I need to successfully implement the new ideas or skills acquired from the workshop/conference?
  • How can I maintain momentum and accountability to ensure that I translate my learnings into tangible results and personal growth?

Reflect on Meetings (5 minutes)

We spend so much time in meetings at work, but when is the last time you paused for a quick reflection after a meeting to determine if the gathering was truly productive or what was needed for the attendees? Adding just five minutes after a meeting to stop and reflect could make a major impact moving forward. We challenge you to add this practice into your week (if that seems overwhelming because you have so many meetings, pick 3-5 meetings you’d like to spend the time reflecting on and then use your end-of-week reflection time to determine if the post-meeting reflections have been helpful). Here are some great questions to ask in your post-meeting reflection:

  • Were the right people involved?
  • Did the meeting achieve its intended objectives and outcomes?
  • Were important decisions made or action items identified during the meeting?
  • Was communication open, constructive, and inclusive among participants?
  • Did the meeting start and end on time, and stay focused on agenda items?
  • Were responsibilities and accountability for follow-up actions clearly defined?
  • Did the meeting align with strategic priorities and contribute to organizational goals?
  • What improvements can be made to enhance future meeting effectiveness?

If the idea of reflecting on your day, week, etc. is appealing and you’re not sure where to start, we suggest beginning with reflecting on your days, then adding a weekly reflection, and so on. Adding this practice into your routine will help you eliminate things that are not serving you or your team well. It will help you stay focused on the things that truly matter. When your reflections lead you to making changes, take the next step to involve the best person or group of people on your team to help execute those changes. Which one are you most excited to begin with?

Photo of Laura Sue Johnson

Written by Laura Sue Johnson