Quick Take: Time to Reflect

How often do you take time to reflect?

How often do you slow down and stop thinking about what you need to do next, and instead think about where you are and where you’ve been?

I find it helpful to stop and reflect on a regular basis. At a minimum, once a year.

I took that opportunity recently. I cleared my calendar, turned off all notifications, went to a quiet room, and reflected.

I reflected and thought with no distractions. I made some notes about how things had gone well, and how they could have gone better. I considered the next year and what I should focus on. I identified things to stop, things to start, and things to continue.

After all of that thinking, I looked down at my watch, curious how long I’d been in that focused state.

One hour.

I had calmly done more deep thinking in an hour than it felt I had in the previous 6 months. It hadn’t felt hard, it hadn’t felt rushed. And it opened up my eyes to how much we can accomplish when we turn down the volume of the rest of our lives and our work for a few minutes and simply give our mind time to think.

The end of the year seems a natural time to reflect on the past and plan for the future. I encourage you to give yourself time to think.

To create the space to focus and think I recommend:

  • Block several hours, and turn on your out-of-office notice…make it look like you are completely unavailable
  • Turn off all notifications on your phone…and if you can stand it, turn off the phone
  • Ask yourself a few big questions and see where that leads. I recommend having some paper on hand to make a few notes about what you learn.

Some starter questions:

  • What am I most proud of this year?
  • How have I been challenged this year?
  • What is most important for me to focus on in the next 12 months?
  • What is important to me, but shouldn’t be a focus in the next 12 months?

Ask these questions, and note down your responses.

You may find that even a single hour of uninterrupted focus will give you the sense of calm and clarity that you’ve been struggling to find all year.