The term sharpen the saw was introduced by Stephen Covey. To sharpen the saw, as he defined it, means “to preserve and enhance the greatest asset you have – you!” It also includes having a “balanced program for self-renewal in four areas of your life: physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual.” So, the question I have for you is: How do you sharpen the saw?
For some of us, this could be small, daily things that help us to “fill up our bucket” so to speak. You know, those things that can revitalize us or bring back energy, rather than zapping it. For others, it might be our weekends that allow us more time to do this. And, if we’re lucky, we might even get the chance to withdraw from life for a few days (or more) and take a vacation of some type. According to Project: Time Off, Americans fail to use 662 million vacation days annually. The stockpile of unused vacation is creating a spike in worker burnout. It’s up to us to intentionally create opportunities to rejuvenate and sharpen the saw which will help us come back with renewed sense of purpose and energy.
Wherever your lifestyle and budget may fall on the spectrum, Covey explains, “Living a life in balance means taking the necessary time to renew yourself. It’s all up to you.” To use his analogy of a saw: If we use our saw every day and constantly grind away, it becomes dull. Periodically we need to stop and sharpen the saw for it to operate at its potential. This can be done many different ways. But no matter what, you need to be aware of the importance and prioritize the time. See if any of these ideas might help you.
Things that can take as little as 10 minutes and can be done daily or throughout the week:
- Try a progressive relaxation app
- Listen to music
- Spend time outside
- Exercise! Yoga, hiking, biking, walking, running. Find what works for you.
- Do some deep breathing
Things that could be done on the weekend:
- Go to bed 30 minutes earlier
- Take a break from your phone
- Try something new
- Connect with a friend
- Go to a museum
- Write a letter or card to someone
- Spend time with children or older adults
- Visit a new park or recreational area
Take some time off from work. We may not all have the resources to travel to exotic locations, but we can still “get away”.
- Take a day off work and use it as a staycation or mental health day.
- Take a day trip and be back in your own bed the same night. You won’t have to spend money on lodging.
- Try a long weekend where you only miss one day of work, but get three days away.
- Try camping! It’s cheap and makes you disconnect from the rushed lifestyle. If you’re lucky, there won’t be Wifi access.
- Go visit a friend! Sleep on their couch if you have to.
- Start planning and saving for that vacation you want!
- Take a vacation – plain and simple.