“Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I’ll spend the first four sharpening the ax.”
Leadership and management expert, Stephen Covey has taken Lincoln’s quote one step further. He believes that one of the essential habits of successful people is their ability to “sharpen the saw”. By this he means taking care of the tools or resources that we most often use during our daily activities. It makes whatever task we are attempting easier and more efficient. In life, your most valuable resource is you. You are the tool you use to accomplish the various challenges that you are faced with in your day. Most people rarely stop to think about how to take care of themselves, which leads to less efficiency and greater frustration in life. Here are a couple of thoughts about how take care of your most valuable resource:
Get To Sleep
Sleep is often the first casualty in our quest to become more productive and successful. It’s so easy to stay up an extra hour to finish that assignment or to wake up 30 minutes early to get a head start on the house. We can get away with neglecting sleep for a while, but eventually and inevitably it catches up to us. Our thinking becomes hazy and our emotions become unpredictable. Before long our body begins to physically shut down as well. If you want to take care of you, protect your sleep!
For most of us, our daily jobs don’t provide a creative outlet. If that’s the case, it’s critical that you make time to engage the creative parts of your brain. Paint, play music, landscape your yard, write, or do whatever you enjoy doing that stimulates your creativity. Engaging our creative impulses adds color to our life and reduces our stress. If you are thinking that you don’t have time for creative pursuits, then you need this outlet even more than most!
Even if you are an outgoing person who loves to surround themselves with people, you need some time alone. Time away from all of the distractions of life allows us to see the world in new ways. On an average day our brain is assaulted with all sorts of stimuli. There are people that need our attention and deadlines that need to be met. Music is playing everywhere we go. Horns blow on the roads and babies cry at home. Taking a few minutes to escape gives our minds a chance to sort themselves out. We are often able to prioritize the events of our day better after a break, which decreases our stress and adds much needed clarity to our day. So whether it’s a walk down the street or locking yourself in the bathroom for a few minutes, find some space to be alone today!
I hope you take time today to “sharpen the saw”, you are much too valuable a resource to be ignored!
Stephen Covey talks at length about Sharpening The Saw in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People