Writer and founder of my8dayweek
In this Episode, we will get back to basics. There’s nothing like it hey!
In fact, the more we lay the foundations for a “life well-lived”, the more unlikely we will get lost in the complexity of the big projects and grand plans we pursue and set out to achieve.
Most importantly, we won’t feel overwhelmed or distracted and instead tackle the day with a laser-sharp focus, which is quite a tall order in today’s society, where every scroll of social media pretty much takes us off track, hopefully for you and me, it’s only every now and then.
Yes, Sharpening the Saw sounds quite graphic but attached to it is a simple but profound illustration. Have you heard of it before?
Where did this saying actually come from?
Suppose you were to come upon someone in the woods working feverishly to saw down a tree.
“What are you doing?” you ask.
“Can’t you see?” comes the impatient reply. “I’m sawing down this tree.”
“You look exhausted!” you exclaim. “How long have you been at it?”
“Over five hours,” he returns, “and I’m beat! This is hard work.”
“Well, why don’t you take a break for a few minutes and sharpen that saw?” you inquire. “I’m sure it would go a lot faster.”
“I don’t have time to sharpen the saw,” the man says emphatically. “I’m too busy sawing!”
Dr. Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People was a principle that he called “Sharpening the Saw.”
As the name implies, it is a guiding theme built on the premise that we need to constantly be renewing ourselves in areas of our lives that have the greatest importance to us.
In brief, to set the context in case you have not read the book:
- Habit #1 – Be proactive. (You’re in charge.)
- Habit #2 – Begin with the end in mind. (Have a plan.)
- Habit #3 – Put first things first. (Work first, then play.)
- Habit #4 – Think Win-Win. (Everyone can win.)
- Habit #5 – Seek first to understand, then to be understood. (Listen before you talk.)
- Habit #6 – Synergy. (Together is better.)
- Habit #7 – Sharpen the saw. (Balance feels best.)
It’s a classic reference book, worth having on your shelf. Practical, sound advice and foundational principles to keep us on track.
Sharpen the Saw means preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have – you. It means having a balanced program for self-renewal in the four areas of life, referring again to Dr Covey:
Sharpening the blade of physicality ensures your body has the strength and vigour it needs to take on your day-to-day plans and tick off your To Do List. If you’re tired and sick all the time, you’re not going to be very productive, no matter how much you work. And I have seen busy ladies, achieve a lot, but also burnout in the process. Repeating this unhealthy pattern over and over again.
There’s a better way to do life and we know we have to stick to The Plan. Keep the right priorities at the top.
At a minimum, we need to focus on:
- Eating right
- Getting enough sleep each night
Those three things can go a long, long way in keeping you physically sharp, so begin there and make them non-negotiable. Always, keep things simple, achievable and practical.
Once you’ve got a handle on those three areas, start exploring other ways to create health and vitality. Some suggestions: add sweating it out, naps, saunas, cold showers, massages, regular holidays and R&R time, reducing caffeine and alcohol consumption, etc.
Experiment with different “protocols” and see what makes you feel your best.
I want to reiterate that this stuff doesn’t have to take much time.
If all you have is 30 minutes a day to work out, then do 30 minutes of strength training. If you have a lunch break, perhaps consider taking a 20-minute power nap.
Don’t think you have to spend a lot of time on these types of activities to get significant benefits. It’s quite the opposite in fact.
I don’t tend to take naps often, but I have them in my toolkit, for when it’s really needed. It’s a great way to refuel and reset, midway through the day.
Just factor it in for one of those days, you’ll be glad you did.
The next is social/emotional.
The social/emotional dimension is about creating meaningful social connections with others.
Different studies show that socialisation is pretty effective in eliminating stress. It provides a way to learn new ideas and share your thoughts with others.
Some examples include:
– Cultivating healthy relationships
– Making new friends
– Contributing to a community group
– Enjoying dinner with family
– Sharing our skills and talents
Think through these questions to gather more clarity on your social/emotional
- Do you have good relationships with your boss? Coworkers? Employees? People on your Mini but Mighty team?
- Do you have a reliable support system of people to go to for advice and for a general debriefing of issues?
- Do you feel you have sufficient levels of influence and leadership?
- Do you feel you are able to express your feelings and thoughts to those around you, especially your inner circle?
Next, is the mental dimension.
There are so many ways to stay ‘sharp’ mentally. Personally, I like to #PressPause, practice mindfulness and journal my ideas and thoughts. I feel that helps me clear the cobwebs in my head, leads me back on track with my tasks and goals, as well as, prioritise my mental well-being.
- What skills, experiences or certifications do you feel you are missing? (A good way to find this is to search for your desired future job and then to take a look at job postings to understand qualifications/skills/experiences/years of work)
- When employees or coworkers approach you to make a decision, are you: decisive, knowledgeable, confident and deliberate?
- How much time do you devote to learning and expanding your knowledge inside and outside of work hours?
Lastly, on the topic of spirituality.
Spirituality gives life meaning and a sense of purpose: It’s the core of who we are and why we do what we do.
Failure to sharpen this blade can leave us feeling like we are in a hamster wheel, doing tasks on repeat, with no real understanding of how it’s adding up and creating joy, fun and adventure, and gets you up in the morning fresh and energised. However, like physical health, obtaining spiritual health takes dedication and regular practice.
Some examples of spiritual practices include: studying scripture or philosophy, meditating, journaling, and spending time in nature.
I encourage you to #PressPause now, and write a list of at least 12 activities that allow you to Sharpen the Saw effectively.
Yes, hit that button. Give yourself 5 to 10 minutes off just for yourself. (Be kind to yourself. And you will show up better because of it.)
Keep your list handy and mix things up, to keep your energy flowing and thus be able to be at your best, every day and every week.
You got this B.O.S.S. Own your space.
Make it cheerful, bright and positive, then you can achieve all your heart-centred goals and projects at a pace that’s a bridge between comfortable and (a positive kind of) challenging.