In the last few years, the idea of mindfulness has gained increasing currency within the workplace. It is a reaction to, and at the same time an antidote for the continued volume of information we have to process, and the fact that we don’t seem to have as much downtime as we once had. The defining characteristic of the 21st century is data, more of it is now produced in a week than used to be produced in entire centuries. The early casualty of this is the ability to stand back and look at things. We are so inundated with information we don’t have time for anything else. Resultingly, reflection, which is itself a central focus of mindfulness - the ability to reflect on and savour the moment - should definitely be something admired and encouraged.
Reflection is also directly conducive to work-space efficiency. Although of course not everything has to be in the aim of ensuring business efficiency it is still worth bearing in mind.
Making important strategic organisational decisions does require the ability to think back and allow the brain to process all the information and come to a solution which is a product of rational data analysis as well as experience. Emails and devices are all constantly vying for our attention, making reflection and the ability to take some time out a difficult task to accomplish. As part of the fightback, we need to think about the how we institutionalise the ability to take time out and reflect.
To help normalise time out and reflection, we might want to consider how it is framed. The reframing of reflection as ‘Smart Time’, might be a helpful solution. Reflection can often be seen as a passive activity, characterised more by the lack of activity, rather than anything proactive. So, if we are able to call this ‘Smart Time’, or ‘Design Thinking Time’, and frame it in a way which is more consonant with 21st century vernacular, it might attract more supporters and management plaudits, and as a result we might feel less internally guilty about taking time out from our day-today work to reflect.
As we discuss in the podcast, it can be beneficial to institutionalise time out and reflection, achieving this means setting aside time in diaries and putting aside a specific time each week to reflect, so people can’t pull it down or forget about it, and make it regular so you can work it into the circadian rhythm of your work week. Whether mornings are preferable or not to afternoons for reflection is a decision for the individual. The most important factor is finding a system, or time in the week, which works on an individualistic level, which a person can schedule into their week and which works for and benefits them.
The overall message is, that reflection doesn’t need to be left as a brief exercise only completed once per quarter, or for when you are walking in the hills, or during some kind of networking jamboree. Rather, it should be something which is a part of our weekly work life. It should be built into the process of thinking through issues, helping us base our solutions more on active listening, rather than on reactionary tactical management, which is a characteristic of modern haste and information overload, which is itself a hallmark of 21st century work life.
Listen to our latest podcast here where our expert in Leadership, Management & Organisational Development, Toby Lindsay has been catching up with Gerry Griffin, founder of SkillPill, our leadership and management learning partners, to talk more about the importance of Reflection, part of our Meaningful leadership #InConversationWith Series.
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