Spend 15 Minutes Per Day Reflecting on Your Work (and How to Do Better Next Time)

This article originally appeared on Microlearning, our bite-sized online solution for leaders and individual contributors.

Why do it?

Back-to-back-to-back meetings. An ever-growing to-do list. When you’re a manager, setting aside time for reflection can feel like a luxury you simply can’t afford. But research suggests that taking just 15 minutes a day to reflect on your work can help boost your job performance and confidence. Now is it really worth working for those 15 minutes when you could dedicate those precious minutes to reflection?


How to do it:

1. Choose a 15-minute window for reflection, ideally at the same time each day.

Setting aside a consistent time makes it easier to build the habit. For example, convenient times might be:

  • Right when you get to your desk (before you actually start working)
  • At the end of your lunch break
  • As your last task of the workday


2. Reflect on how you handled specific events and what key lessons you learned for next time.

If you aren’t sure where to start, ask yourself:

  • What can I learn from the interactions I had today or yesterday with my boss, direct reports, and/or clients?
  • What didn’t go the way I wanted it to? Why might it have happened that way?
  • What one or two things can I do differently next time to get better results?


3. Write down important takeaways and anything you intend to change.

Putting your ideas in writing is a great way to clarify your thinking, commit those thoughts to memory, and record your reflections for future reference. For example:

  • Say you determine after a meeting-packed day that your attention wandered at various points. For the next meeting-heavy day, you might set an overall intention: I will listen intently and ask more questions.
  • Say you gave a direct report unclear instructions. You might make a plan to change your approach: The next time I ask for revisions from a team member, I will map out in writing what changes I want ahead of time, so I can easily explain what needs to happen and so they are not left guessing.


4. Apply what you’ve learned from your reflection.

Otherwise, what’s the point? And after some time, review your written reflections to assess how well your changes have worked.