I’ve been reflecting a lot more often recently. Autumn has that effect on me, and this autumn has had a lot to reflect on (more on that in other posts). I’m trying out a new reflection technique at the end of every meeting I have and at the end of every workday. It’s pretty straightforward, but I don’t see a lot of people doing it.
I simply take out my pen and a piece of paper and I write down the thoughts in my head after each meeting or after the workday. When I say “meeting”, I mean any discussion with another person or other persons, formal or informal. At the end of day reflection, I answer the questions “What went well?” and “What could go better?” The whole technique takes between two and fifteen minutes each time. It’s time well spent.
I’m finding written reflection very useful to my learning process. My brain generates a lot of ideas, but if I don’t write them down or dictate them to my phone within two minutes of their creation, they are gone forever. I’m finding that I can consolidate my fleeting thoughts into long term memory just by writing down what I’m thinking after an experience like a meeting or a full workday. I may never read the notes again, but it doesn’t matter. The act of writing itself commits the thoughts to memory. Writing it down puts clear words to what I was thinking and feeling, and these clear words are retrievable in my brain, unlike fleeting emotions or vague thoughts.
I had left meetings and workdays in the past with many thoughts storming around my head, and not doing anything about them but letting them sublimate. Collecting those thoughts is analogous to finishing up a piece of art and properly stowing all materials and tools used to make it. It’s tidying up, leaving a meeting or workday cleanly. It helps me see what to-dos come out of meetings and what I want to focus on the next workday.
For instance, I reflected after an all-team meeting last week at work. The team was discussing being open and honest in communicating. Easier said than done. One of my thoughts after the meeting was that I could host some Lunch and Learn sessions about the techniques I’ve learned to communicate clearly and actively listen. I wrote it down on my notepad with my pen. Now I can recall it even without referencing my notepad, as I type this. It matters to me, and I intend to study more on the subject of communication and listening, and then implement and teach what I learn.
The act of reflecting is one level of the Four Levels of Learning. I’ll be writing more about these levels in the future, but I’ll list them below. Credit goes to ZingTrain for introducing me to the Four Levels of Learning.
Level 1: Listening or Reading (where good and active listening is an art and good and active reading is a system)
Level 2: Reflecting
Level 3: Assimilating and Implementing
Level 4: Teaching