Published: April 19, 2021
Reading Time: 11 mins
It can be easy to fall into the pattern of working from day to day, week to week. Finding the time and motivation to learn how to improve or become better than you were before can seem like a huge task.
However, by building a practice of regular reflection into your life, you’ll notice huge benefits over time.
Being great doesn’t happen overnight.
Start small with intentional improvements and build upon those over time to allow for even more improvements.
“If we forfeit the opportunity to learn from our experiences, as the saying (sort of) goes, we condemn ourselves to repeat our mistakes.” - Ryder Carroll, The Bullet Journal Method.
In this article, I’d like to share with you the benefits of a regular reflection habit, how I incorporate this into my life to become better, and why you should consider adding this habit to your toolkit.
I hope you find this information helpful and it inspires you to try regular reflection for yourself.
Before we can start reflecting on “what” we’re doing each day, it’s important to understand the “why” behind those things.
I’ve written before about the benefits of determining the why behind your work and how it can help to motivate you to work on tasks or work towards your goals.
The best place to start to understand the “why” behind your work is to define the things that you care about and the things that define you as a person.
The eagle-eyed among you may recognize this as being like the GTD top level of your Horizon of Focus: your purpose and principles.
Take some time to do a brain dump of what you would consider your areas of focus.
It doesn’t have to be right the first time but simply thinking about this can give a good indication of what’s important to you.
There’s also no one right way to do this.
My list has evolved over time but some examples include: Creator, Student, Friend.
For more detail on how others go about this process, I recommend listening to Episode 117 of the Focused podcast: Roles & Goals.
It provides some great insight into how other people establish their areas of focus or roles.
Now that you’ve looked at and clarified the bigger picture, it’s time to set some goals.
I’ve talked about goals at length in previous articles including:
Let me summarize the basics here:
Now that we’ve covered areas of focus and goal setting, the next few sections will look at the different types of reflection and how they work.
Daily reflection can be done first thing in the morning, before you end your workday, or before you go to sleep.
Depending on how you work, you may do all three of these or you may only do one.
The 2 daily reflections I carry out are in the morning and in the afternoon before the end of my workday.
First thing in the morning, I open up my bullet journal and plan my day.
By doing this morning check-in, I can take the time to plan my day in a meaningful and relaxed way, free from distractions and stress.
Of course, my days don’t always turn out as I had planned in my morning check-in.
However, by having the afternoon check-in, I can reflect back on what derailed me and how I can prevent it from happening going forward.
The afternoon check-in also provides me with a mental cue that once I’ve finished, I am finished working for the day.
I can move on and turn my attention to other things like making dinner or spending time with friends and family.
This is a great tip for people that tend to work long past the end of their workday as it can help you to reclaim your personal time.
A weekly reflection/weekly review is done once a week to reflect back on how the last week was and to plan for the week ahead.
Not to complicate things, but I do 2 weekly reviews, one for my job and one for me. I find that by separating these 2 areas, I’m more effective at thinking and planning.
I do my personal review on a Friday and I’ve blocked off an hour in my calendar for it. This reminds me to do it and makes sure I don’t double book myself.
I’ve created a weekly review template in Notion so I don’t have to think about the setup as much:
If you want to read about my weekly review in more detail, you might like to read this article: Restarting The Weekly Review Process.
Each type of reflection looks at your life on a slightly higher horizon or level of focus.
Daily reflections show you the day-to-day tasks and activities you perform.
Weekly reflections show you how the day-to-day tasks and activities you perform impact your work, goals, energy, stress levels, and happiness.
Quarterly reflections look at the slightly bigger picture of your goals.
It gives you the opportunity to see how your daily and weekly tasks and actions have contributed to your success or failure at reaching your goals.
It also allows you to plan for goals you’d like to work on for the next quarter.
Before we continue here, I’d like to say that I’m an advocate for the 12 week year and set my goals on a quarterly basis. This insight came from reading The 12 Week Year by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington.
There’s so much more to say on the topic of a 12 week year but that’s for another time. If you’d like to learn more, I highly recommend you read the book.
Anyway, here’s what my quarterly reflection looks like from a very high level:
I hope you enjoyed reading this article and you found some value from the things I’ve shared.
Regular reflection is the best way to improve and even if you just started doing a weekly review, you’ll notice the results almost immediately.
If you liked this article, please consider sharing it on social media so others can find it.
Here are some more articles you might like to read next:
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