Taking Time for Reflection Is A Smart Investment

Quotation-Confucius-reflection-learning-(1)We never seem to have enough time. We spend hours reading books or taking classes on time management, only to return to our desks and become slaves to our email, endless meetings and unscheduled coworker drop-ins. As the economy tanked in 2008, layoffs forced employees to do twice the amount of work in the same amount of time. And even though the economy has improved significantly, we are still managing unhealthy workloads.

So, it’s no surprise that we’re always trying to find ways to save time in our day. That’s healthy. It’s necessary. What is unhealthy is where we try to save that time.

As a Solutions Architect, I consult with organizations on training and development programs designed to create behavioral change in their employees. The conversation with the potential customer generally sounds something like this:

Me: “I think for this particular skill, we should go with a two-day workshop that will…”

Customer: “Sounds great, but can we make that a one-day workshop instead?”

Me: “Well, we can’t fit that same depth of action learning into half the time, but there’s another program that’s a one-day solution. This one will….”

Customer: “Okay, but can we make that a half-day program?”

We’re trying to save the most time in the place where time is needed the most. The most common challenge I hear from managers is that they can’t afford for their employees to be out of the office for more than a day as they work on individual development needs. Yet, the reason that same manager called me looking for advice was because they couldn’t afford for their employees to continue making the same mistakes.

Something has to give.

We have to reassess the value of our time.

But our concern shouldn’t just be focused on how much time we spend in the classroom. The time spent outside the classroom is just as important. One of the most necessary and underrated aspects of learning is the priceless time between classroom sessions where we reflect on and apply what we’ve learned. It is in this space that we transfer knowledge into experience. This is the space where we try new things and develop new questions for the coach or facilitator. This is where we experience small victories that give us the encouragement and excitement to keep on learning and developing.

The time between developmental sessions is where the magic happens.

Reflection is a powerful, free tool that turns classroom learning into a lifelong skill. There are plenty of places to reclaim time in the day, but the time spent for reflection shouldn’t be one of them.