Now, let me think…
In some ways, I consider myself to be good at reflection – some might even say that I do too much of it – but I am also aware that it’s all too easy to go to a workshop or event, or read an interesting article, and then forget about making use of what you’ve learned.
When I attended courses many years ago, I found that having to write down “one thing that you’ll do differently when you get back to work” was such a chore and I often wouldn’t put much effort into it. But now that I’m older and wiser, I have learnt that if I don’t put some effort into doing that, I might as well not have gone on the course or read the article in the first place! I can’t say that I’m always as diligent about this as I should be, but I know the theory and try to put it into practice as often as I can.
As far as the tools that I use, I am a great believe in pen and paper and find that I think best with a pen in my hand (a uni-ball eye micro, if you must know – it makes all the difference!). I try and make some notes as soon as possible after attending a course or other event and will often do this on the train on the way home.
More recently, I started transferring those notes to my OneNote notebook. OneNote, for the uninitiated, is part of the Microsoft Office suite which I discovered when I was doing my library degree a few years ago. It’s hard to describe, but it’s a bit like having a whole load of sheets of paper that you can jot notes on and then organise into folders and add tags to make it easy to find things again. I also use it for making notes while reading something online, or even putting a copy of a document, such as a pdf, onto one of the pages and annotating it as I read. It’s a great way to store these reflective jottings and it makes it easy to refer back to them at a later date.
I like the simple mantra of “What? – So What? – Now What?” and will definitely incorporate this into my reflection in the future. It’s short, it’s snappy, and will really make me focus on what I’ve learned. The other thing that I’ll take away from this is that reflection doesn’t always need to take a lot of time – it’s better to do a quick postmortem than let the moment pass and do nothing.
Taking a look at this from the other side, it’s also good to think beforehand about what you’re hoping to get out of an event or meeting to focus your mind on the issues that brought you there in the first place.I found this incredibly useful when I went on a “Getting Organised” course a while ago. Thinking through my particular issues beforehand allowed me to revisit them afterwards and see what I could apply from the course to solve them.
Needless to say, I’m not convinced I can ever get as organised as I’d like to be!