Reflecting on Reflection

Though reflection entails the high opportunity cost of one’s time, it can powerfully enhance the learning process.

Harold Jarche: "Much of the workday in a professional office is organized around meetings, calls, and getting things done. This is often interrupted dozens of time each day, requiring a re-focus on whatever it is people were doing before the interruption. Work, like professional conferences, is composed of many non-related  discrete, time-based events, often with one directly following the other. This mirrors our children as they rush from class to unrelated class, focusing on nothing for more than one hour. Like school children, time for professional reflection is relegated to before of after work, but this is often taken up with commuting, squeezing some exercise time, and meeting household obligations."

And most relevant to our work: "Creative work is not routine work done faster. It’s a whole different way of work, and a critical part is letting the brain do what it does best; come up with ideas. Without time for reflection, most of those ideas will get buried in the detritus of modern workplace busyness."

There's research to back this up - from Learning by Thinking: How Reflection Aids Performance by Giada Di Stefano, Francesca Gino, Gary Pisano, and Bradley Staats: "Our findings suggest that reflection is a powerful mechanism by which experience is translated into learning. In particular, we find that individuals perform significantly better on subsequent tasks when they think about what they learned from the task they completed... Though reflection entails the high opportunity cost of one’s time, we argue and show that reflecting after completing tasks is no idle pursuit: it can powerfully enhance the learning process."

The authors also argue that this should be done alone, as opposed to in groups.

So, try and carve out some time alone, away from the busyness of work, to reflect. Yes, it's a luxury, but to borrow a popular catchphrase, you're worth it.


Image credit: Reflections: Johannes Martin


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