As we were heading to a festive New Year’s Eve dinner, our cab driver asked (tongue in cheek) whether we wanted to go to Times Square. Our negative response was so emphatic that he had to laugh. Now don’t get me wrong. I understand that for some folks their idea of a good time is to spend hours in the freezing cold just so they can watch something drop. I hope they enjoyed every minute of it. But don’t expect me to be there shivering in the cold next to them. Instead, we had a low-key (and considerably warmer) celebration. Over the course of the evening, we took a few minutes to remember the good things that happened in 2014. While no year is unalloyed joy, 2014 was a pretty good year for our family. And we are profoundly grateful.
From a professional perspective, 2014 was a stellar year for me. Among the highlights:
- I published Optimizing Law Firm Support Functions
- I grew my consulting and facilitating practice in revenue and diversity of clients
- I gave more presentations than I have ever given in any other year
- I upgraded this blog
So why this recital of good things? It’s good science. Let me explain.
A Harvard Business School working paper,”Learning by Thinking: How Reflection Aids Performance,” documents research that shows a marked improvement in productivity when you step away from your work to reflect on your progress. Drake Baer reports that the researchers tested their theories in the field with employees of Wipro in the following way:
The researchers put new employees into groups where people either reflected on their days or didn’t. In the reflection group, employees were given a paper journal and asked to spend 15 minutes at the end of their workdays writing about what went well that day, which they did for 10 days.
The result: The journaling employees had 22.8% higher performance than the control group. [emphasis added]
Why does this work? According to HBS professor Francesca Gino:
When people have the opportunity to reflect, they experience a boost in self-efficacy. They feel more confident that they can achieve things. As a result, they put more effort into what they’re doing and what they learn.
So what does this mean for me? In 2015 I’m going to take the time to reflect more regularly (hopefully daily) on what’s working and why. Then I will try to take those lessons learned and apply them to the following day. This should create an upward spiral of learning and productivity.
And what about you? I hope you’ll make the commitment to greater productivity by taking a few minutes away from your To Do list in order to make the time for daily self-reflection.
Have a happy AND productive 2015!
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