“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.” — Margaret J. Wheatley
Want to end your workweek feeling accomplished and energized? Try Friday Reflection.
For more than two decades at Microsoft, Friday Reflection has been my key productivity practice. By reflecting on my past week and planning for the upcoming one, I have created a learning loop that helps me improve my personal productivity and achieve great results, by getting a little better each week.
The Friday Reflection Habit is one of my most impactful proven productivity practice. I’ve used it for more than 20 years at Microsoft. It’s part of the Monday Vision, Daily Wins, Friday Reflection pattern in Agile Results, introduced in Getting Results the Agile Way.
A lot can happen in a week. In fact, the days might get away from you, but overall, if you prioritize well and use your priorities as your backbone for the week, you can achieve a lot. I created Friday Reflection as a chance to check in with myself and reflect on results and opportunities for improvement.
What is Friday Reflection?
Reflection is the process of thinking about and analyzing your experiences, thoughts, and emotions in order to gain insight, learn from them, and make positive changes.
It’s a way to be mindful each week and improve the things that matter most for your personal productivity and effectiveness.
Friday Reflection is simply asking and answering 3 questions for the week:
- What are 3 things that went well?
- What are 3 things to improve?
- What can I do better next week?
By identifying 3 things that went well, you’re actually practicing a form of gratitude. This also helps you practice packing up and putting a bow on your achievements. If you struggle to articulate your achievements, this is your chance to practice.
By focusing on 3 things to improve, you’re building your self-awareness and learning your pitfalls. For example, if you achieved your priorities for the week, but didn’t feel the impact, you might need to learn more about what’s valued. Or, if you didn’t achieve your priorities, ask yourself whether you got distracted or whether you traded up. If you traded up, how can you look for and anticipate these higher value outcomes in the future.
By figuring out what you can do better next week, your turning your insights into action and creating a simple learning loop each week to grow better with time.
The Friday Reflection Habit is a Skill for Growing Better
While reflection is a simple skill, I found the real keys come down to:
- Make space for it.
- Structure it.
- Focus on growing better.
If you don’t make space for it, then it’s a chore, instead of a chance to grow better. The key here is to slow down so you can speed up. You gain speed by gaining better clarity, focusing on better priorities, and taking better action.
And when you do Friday Reflection well, you reveal what’s in the way of you operating at a higher level.
I chose Fridays because it was a good time to “reflect” on the past week, as well as to decompress. I started out by creating a 20-minute appointment on my calendar so that I would always make space for it. In the beginning, sometimes I needed a little more, but usually I needed a lot less.
In fact, sometimes it was just a 5-minute reflection, and that was all I needed to feel gratitude, gain insight, and grow better.
I structured my Friday Reflection using questions so that I could easily get into the right frame of mind and easily gain insights.
The Friday Reflection Habit was Inspired by Peter Drucker
Part of why I chose Friday for reflection was inspired by Peter Drucker. I remember learning that Peter Drucker dedicated certain days to his types of work. For example, an operations day, a meetings day, and a day for creativity.
Peter Drucker, the management consultant and author, created an “operations day” as part of his approach to time management. On this day, Drucker would dedicate his time to tackling the routine tasks and administrative work that was required to keep his business running smoothly.
In addition to his operations day, Drucker also had other themed days to help structure his week. For example, he had a day dedicated to meetings and a day dedicated to creative work. He believed that by organizing his schedule in this way, he could be more productive and efficient with his time.
I used Friday as a day for connecting and re-connecting with people and for focusing on personal growth.
So, effectively Friday is my “growth day”. Sure, every day is a chance for growth day, but Friday is where I take a step back and reflect what to change at the deepest levels to transform myself.
The Friday Reflection Habit Works for Teams and Leaders
The power of Friday Reflection is its ability to foster a culture of accountability, continuous improvement, and positivity within teams and leaders.
By regularly reflecting on progress and wins, individuals can focus on their strengths, align with their values, and make meaningful contributions to their work. This not only boosts productivity and effectiveness, but also cultivates a sense of fulfillment and purpose in the workplace.
My philosophy is to empower and inspire people to spend more time in their strengths, less time in their weaknesses, spend more time in their values, and use work as a way to realize potential while doing and shipping great things.
It’s a really powerful place when everybody can speak to their 3 Wins for the Week and really practices a genuine attitude of gratitude.
Friday Reflection helps people quickly identify and separate busy work from productive progress and results. It helps individuals in their one-on-ones when they need to review what they’ve accomplished. You’re basically building a list of achievements each week that adds up and tells a story.
The story of impact grows over time. And the story for the team is more than the sum of the individual stories.
And that’s synergy.
The Friday Reflection Habit Supports Wellness
As a leader of teams, wellbeing has always been important to me. The Friday Reflection Habit is a way to support wellbeing by giving people a chance to practice an attitude of gratitude. Did you know you can’t feel fear when you feel grateful?
What’s not always obvious is that I built in a lot of proven practices for wellbeing into Agile Results.
I learned a lot from both positive psychologists, like Dr. Martin Seligman, author of Learned Optimism, as well as sports psychologists like Dr. John Eliot, author of Overachievement. I also learned a great deal from Dr. David Burns, author of Feeling Good.
As one mentor put it, “You’re no use to us dead,” and “brains work better when they’re rested and relaxed.” So aside from focusing on a sustainable work pace, I focused on Friday Reflection as a way to sustain better wellness.
End Your Week Feeling Accomplished and Energized
The Friday Reflection habit is a powerful way to reflect on your accomplishments and progress throughout the week, which can leave you feeling energized and accomplished.
By taking time each Friday to review your week, you are able to see what you have accomplished, what you have learned, and what areas you may need to improve on. This practice helps you feel a sense of accomplishment and pride in what you have achieved, which can boost your confidence and energy levels.
Additionally, the Friday Reflection habit helps you prioritize your tasks and goals for the following week, which can give you a clear sense of direction and purpose. This can help you feel more motivated and energized to tackle the tasks ahead.
The Friday Reflection habit is a simple but powerful tool for increasing productivity, improving performance, and boosting overall energy levels. By taking the time to reflect on your progress and set goals for the future, you can feel a greater sense of accomplishment and purpose in both your personal and professional life.
Reflect and Refine Your Greatness Over Time
The Friday Reflection habit is a simple yet powerful tool that can help individuals, teams, and leaders reflect on their accomplishments, prioritize their tasks, and continuously improve their productivity.
By taking a few minutes each week to reflect on our wins and learnings, we can build momentum and stay focused on what truly matters, both in our personal and professional lives.
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