How to Plan and Reflect
As a leader, you are no use to anyone if you don't take time to think.
You need to carve out time both to plan and to reflect if you want to be effective.
There are a couple of different ways to approach this. I block 2 hours on a Monday morning to ensure my week is properly planned, and to do some thinking. As mentioned in my previous articles it can be extremely difficult to find time to think when your calendar is full of meetings and you're constantly context-switching.
Blocking a good period out to plan, in a way that suits you, is vital.
Planning the week involves:
Review the meetings in your calendar
Check what tasks you have due or want to get done
Consider whether the activities you have planned are aligned for you to achieve your aims
These are mostly short-term time horizon activities - you should book time for longer term planning as well; monthly, quarterly, and annually is a reasonable cadence for that. Long term planning intervals allow you to keep your weekly planning simplified and thus quicker.
Self-awareness is one of the most important capabilities a leader can develop. Actually for anyone to develop, for that matter. Self-awareness requires taking time to think, reflect, and analyse what we've done.
There's a couple of different approaches on this, varying in scale. One leader I know blocks time at the end of every day for reflection. Personally I do it at the end of the week.
One particular client uses a mix of methods - for super important meetings he blocks a short time after to reflect. This is particularly appropriate for him as he is working on his executive stakeholder management skills - so after any interaction with an exec in his organisation, he takes a few minutes to note down some key information to help him in his growth. He then consolidates this at the end of the week when he has more time to reflect properly.
Some useful reflection questions are:
What did I achieve?
What are some insights from this week?
Where did I make progress towards my goals?
Review what you planned at the start of the week - did you get done what you had planned? What might you do differently next week?
Often, when we're in the weeds of the day-to-day it's hard to see the progress we're making. Using reflection to note down some of the things you've achieved can be super powerful for you to look back on to see how far you've come.
What do you think? Are either of these practices useful to you?