Often when I hear people talk about the reasons [or excuses] they do not reflect much, time is mentioned. I know that I do not have significant more time than other people, so how do I find/ make the time for reflection? For me, it’s all about organization.
I listed my outlook calendar as something I was loving one Friday in a previous post. I am going to cite my calendar as the tool I use to be as organized as I am (and if you ask some of my colleagues, they will attest to this!). My calendar is my life. Literally. And I am very efficient with my time.
Not only do I keep track of appointments and meetings with other people on my calendar, but I also use it as my virtual to-do list. Whenever I think of something I need to complete, I add it to a blank spot on a future date in my calendar. That way, I have a place holder for the work with time dedicated to completing the task. Sometimes I have to move these items, but I rarely lose track of the idea in this way.
When I end up with an empty block of time on my calendar, I make a conscience choice to look ahead to stay organized. I draft emails to be sent later, I see what projects are coming up that I can backwards plan for meetings or deadlines, and I stop to reflect. I continue to reflect in my leadership journal about my work, leadership, and responses to things I’ve recently read or heard. If I open my leadership journal (in Evernote) and see that’s it’s been awhile since I last wrote, I add reflection time into my calendar.
Our team at work facilitates a lot of teacher meetings. With the heightened stress level during busy spring time, we have made it a practice to begin each meeting by asking teachers to reflect for a moment on a successful experience they have recently had in class. Then volunteers share their stories. Not only is this reflection time used and appreciated, but it so great to start a meeting off hearing amazing stories about students and hard-working teachers!
2016 Update: After attending The Breakthrough Coach training last summer, I realized that many of the habits that help me stay organized came from TBC. When I was a Vice Principal, many years ago, I worked for a principal who had been trained in TBC and who was a true instructional leader. He taught me the habits I still use today to prioritize the most important work on my calendar (i.e. classroom visits when students were present and meetings with adults after school hours).
Reflective questions to consider:
- How do you keep yourself organized?
- What organization tips would you give to a new leader?
- How can organization help you reflect more often?
Abecedary of Reflection