How to build a healthy balance between reflection and action

According to the Havard Business Review, research in call centres showed that employees who spent 15 minutes at the end of the day reflecting on the lessons learned performed 23% better after ten days than those who did not reflect. Reflecting is a critical but often forgotten task.

Upon meeting Warren Buffett, Bill Gates was surprised to see the lightness of his diary. Whereas Gates had his days packed and planned to the minute, Buffett would often have days with nothing planned at all. In an interview, Gates shared a key learning:

“You control your time… sitting and thinking may be a much higher priority. It’s not a proxy of your seriousness that you’ve filled every minute in your schedule.”

Of course, your life needs structure. We’d probably crumble without it. Even so, mixing reflection with action can reap rewards in the future. Reflection isn’t difficult. Here’s how you do it:

  • Take inspiration from the research I mentioned and reflect on the lessons you’ve learned at the end of each day. Specifically, try journaling before you go to sleep.

Although adding another task onto an already busy diary may seem unappealing, journaling can help put out your worries on paper and dispel them from your mind. Studies have shown that the emotional release that comes from keeping a journal helps to lower anxiety and stress, helping you have a better night sleep. For this reflection time, write down a few things:

  • What went well that day (what you’re grateful for).
  • What didn’t go well — how you can improve.
  • Your goals and the steps you will take to reach them the next day.
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