We get to the end of the summer and think that went fast, or see a past memory on Facebook and remember it as yesterday although it was many years ago. Life has a habit of doing this! When we take a break and reflect, get the online photo albums out, we escape from the now as the memories come flooding back. Work can be like this…how often do you give yourself time to reflect?
Work life is busy, the frenetic pace rarely gives us time to stop. Different things on the go at once means that habits die hard, in order to get stuff done we do it how we know. And this works! The todo list gets smaller…for a brief time…and everyone is happy – we hope!
Many people like the fast pace, it keeps them engaged, but there needs to be time to look back and see how well things actually went. Did we just scrape through that deadline? Could I have handled that conversation in a one-on-one better? Did the conflict in the team really get resolved? Retrospectives are good at the team level, but I’m talking about personal reflection. The fast pace means we often forget what happens one week to the next…or maybe it’s just me getting old…if we don’t give ourselves a timeout we could be losing opportunities to improve.
Set yourself an hour a week to reflect
Booking time in advance is important, otherwise, people do a good job of filling it in for you! At the end of each week is good, if not every fortnight, to look back at what happened. Look at the meetings you attended, the one-on-ones you had, other team breakthroughs or disasters. What jumps out at you?
- Should you praise someone for their good work because you didn’t realise the effort they put or the big difference it made to the team?
- Are you spending too much time on the wrong things?
- Are we losing track of bigger objectives e.g. quality goals or a Continuous Delivery mindset?
- Is the team being distracted too often?
- Are you observing waste in the team interactions? Can we become more Lean?
- Are you attending too many meetings? Any you can politely avoid?
You might be surprised the amount things you discover! Some points you may need to thing over or observe more, but either way, commit to finding a way to make changes that are needed. This could mean discussing your findings with others and putting a plan in place. But don’t allow the list be forgotten, if you’ve recognised areas that are important you can be confident they will be important to others too.
It’s important to recognise the value of having this time to reflect. Once this value is understood you will be less likely to cancel unless absolutely necessary.
Unless we take the time to stop we can miss so much that is going on around or with us. You could call these a “self-retrospective”, as with team retrospectives they should be done often to avoid any issues boiling over because they were allowed to silently simmer.
This is all part of personal continuous improvement, if we have a desire to improve ourselves and environment around us we have to find the time to reflect.