Every day, every week, every month, at work and at home, I spend some time planning the upcoming day, week, or month. One of these days I ought to share the templates I use—Evernote at home, OneNote at work. (One of These Days™.) I've found it to be a useful habit for getting some of the things I want to do done.
That's half of the point here. I finished reading Michael Watkins' The First 90 Days (notes) over the weekend in preparation for a shift to a new team at work. I've never treated a job transition in a systematic way before—"I'll just wing it"—and I wanted to do it right this time. In Chapter 9, "Manage Yourself", the three main points boiled down to: plan, reflect, and get advisers. The first and the last seem clear to me, even though I only practice the first. (I used to also consult with advisers, although I didn't know that's what I was doing or that it was important—I've also been putting that back together.) Reflecting is the obvious missing piece to what I do. What's the point of planning if you don't loop back around and ask yourself if the plan worked?
The suggestion in the book was to use structured reflection, a term that seemed a little fluffy. A template was given with some questions to ask yourself and think about—a decent starting point. Now I list and describe three things that worked and three things that didn't work every day before signing off at work, and then the same at home. There is some tension about feeling constrained by a process or becoming a robot, but honestly I think that's more about the chafing of starting a new habit. There is plenty of freedom and creativity within the constraint.
Then I thought: why not look for more and better questions? Why not see if there's any evidence that it works? When I threw "structured reflection" into Google—and more importantly, Google Scholar—I discovered that structured reflection wasn't an idea created by the author, but something that's been studied and developed, especially it seems in nursing and education.
Here are some interesting references on the topic that I found, though I haven't read them all yet:
- Reflective practice, Wikipedia
- Jim Steele, Structured reflection on roles and tasks improves team performance, UAH study finds, University of Alabama at Huntsville News (2013-04-18).
- Johns, Christopher. "Framing learning through reflection within Carper's fundamental ways of knowing in nursing." Journal of advanced nursing 22.2 (1995): 226-234. (pdf)
- Carroll, S., et al. "The Learning Assessment Journal as a tool for structured reflection in process education." Frontiers in Education Conference, 1996. FIE'96. 26th Annual Conference., Proceedings of. Vol. 1. IEEE, 1996. (pdf)
- Eyler, Janet. "The power of experiential education." Liberal Education 95.4 (2009): 24-31. (pdf)
- Mamede, Sílvia, et al. "Reflection as a strategy to foster medical students’ acquisition of diagnostic competence." Medical education 46.5 (2012): 464-472. (pdf)
- Cox, Elaine. "Adult learners learning from experience: Using a reflective practice model to support work‐based learning." Reflective Practice 6.4 (2005): 459-472. (pdf)
- Shumack, Kaye. "The Conversational Self: Structured Reflection Using Journal Writings." Journal of Research Practice 6.2 (2010): M17. (pdf)
- Korthagen, Fred, and Angelo Vasalos. "Levels in reflection: Core reflection as a means to enhance professional growth." Teachers and teaching 11.1 (2005): 47-71. (pdf)
- Gregory, Mark, and Irena Descubes. "Structured reflection in information systems teaching and research." Proceedings of the UK Academy for Information Systems Conference. 2011. (pdf)
- Reymen, Isabelle MMJ, and Dieter K. Hammer. "Structured reflection for improving design processes." DS 30: Proceedings of DESIGN 2002, the 7th International Design Conference, Dubrovnik. 2002. (pdf)