Taking time to reflect

Written on 15th October, 2011

It’s been a while since my last blog post, and I’ve recently been pondering why that may be.

It’s not that I’ve been doing less than when I was regularly blogging, it’s in fact quite the opposite. Since the last post we’ve hit some incredible milestones with Buffer including going through the AngelPad incubator here in San Francisco (and raising a little funding), bringing my great friend Tom Moor on board and hitting 50,000 users.

The key reason I believe I’ve not been blogging is that whilst progressing along at a fast pace with Buffer, I’ve stopped taking the time to reflect.

The benefit of reflection

I started this blog around the same time I started building my latest startup Buffer and in many ways I think they have both hand-in-hand helped me to grow very quickly over the last year.

When we first arrived in San Francisco, I remember meeting new people and often they’d recognise me from my blog. I’ve even been interviewed on CBC radio as a result of a blog post I wrote.

I attribute a lot of this success to taking time to reflect on my current thoughts and whether I’m happy with how things are going. It was only when I was reflecting on things that I’d have thoughts to blog about and that I gained these benefits.

Looking back, I’ve also always felt very relaxed when I’ve made the time for reflection. I think Tim Ferriss puts this very well:

"It is important that you pay as much attention to appreciation as you do to achievement. Achievement without reflection on what you have and the gratitude for that is worthless."

When do you reflect on things?

When I had a consistent sleep ritual involving going for a 20 minute walk before bed every evening to disconnect from the day, these walks were where I did a lot of my reflection. I believe these 20 minute periods of reflection allowed me to clear my mind and ingrain thoughts which would turn into action.

I think that reflection is of varying importance for people, depending on your personality. I’ve personally found it to be very useful, and I’ve found that I like to reflect more than others might.

When I was in Birmingham in the UK, I lived in a single bedroom apartment and I had plenty of time to myself for reflection. I then went to a drastic opposite situation when I moved to San Francisco. I spent a period of time sharing a room and sleeping on an air-bed. Part of the key to having time to reflect is to acknowledge changes to environment like this and making time to reflect.

Making time to reflect

I’ve therefore decided that I can’t continue on without taking a few moments every day or two to get away and reflect on things. I think this will trigger more inspiration for blog posts, and I hope to get back into the same regularity I once had. Besides, I now live in Russian Hill and there are some amazing views for when I go and take a walk.

Do you take time regularly to reflect? Do you think it helps? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Photo credit: Fabiana Zonca