Anyone who has worked with me knows how crazy I am about Retrospectives for the workplace. I apply similar techniques when it comes to organising my personal life so I thought I’d share one technique I use that I call “Free Running Reflection”.
I adapted this technique from a “free-writing” class that clieu took a while back. I’ve found it especially effective for getting all those niggling things out of my head and in a place that I can see them and focus on doing something about them. It’s also been very useful under extreme times of stress, showing me things that may be unconsciously influencing my thinking.
I use four very simple things to run this exercise: 15 minutes of time, a timer (watch, stopwatch, clock, etc) a pen and access to plenty of paper to write on. I normally carry around a small notebook (previously a Moleskin, and currently a great little Ciak one).
Here’s how I run it:
- Choose a time boxed period – I usually use 5 or 10 minutes depending on how much time I have.
- Start the timer and write down everything in your head on to the paper until the time runs out. Put down absolutely anything and everything that crosses your mind. A word, a phrase, a full sentence, and especially all random thoughts. I generally avoid pictures though sometimes draw small diagrams if it’s faster than writing a sentence. If you do draw diagrams be careful to keep them as simple as possible as the goal is to get everything going through your head down as soon as possible during the time period.
- With the remaining time, review what you’ve written down and see if there are common themes. Sometimes I draw lines between bits, or regroup items to help me discover patterns. Depending on how I’m feeling I will then decide if I want to do anything about the items on the list, and add the top three to my list of things to focus on and complete.
If you like this technique, or have any other recommendations, please leave a comment.