{ Draft Department } Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

Hello friends!  Today is another post in the Draft Department series!  You know what I’m talking about….all those “This would be a GREAT post” ideas that you start….and just never finish…or ever hit publish.  You may have uploaded a picture…or tagged a restaurant for review…or quickly scribed a paragraph to capture the main topic.  Some people suggest that you delete these old drafts and just start fresh.  Some people suggest you combine material from several drafts into one post – a sort of “What’s On My Mind” post.  My grand idea…if I still really like the topic, I’m going to title it “Draft Department: XXX” and post it on a day that I don’t have any fresh ideas, or I’m in a blogging slump, or taking a sick day!  That way, I can trash the posts that don’t seem so important now, but still publish the posts that had good content!


I started this series back in 2011, and for some reason, never published Habit 6 or Habit 7…Oops.  Enjoy!


“How do I achieve work/life balance?”  Synopsis:  This habit addresses how to preserve and enhance the greatest asset you have – you!  It’s renewing the 4 dimensions of your nature: physical, spiritual, mental, and social.

7 Habits Overview post HERE
Habit 1 Overview post HERE
Habit 2 Overview post HERE
Habit 3 Overview post HERE
Habit 4 Overview post HERE
Habit 5 Overview post HERE
Habit 6 Overview post HERE

If you are ready to challenge yourself to achieve better effectiveness in your personal and interpersonal life – please read on.

Habit 7. Sharpen the Saw.  This habit is based on the principle that by taking time out to nurture your body, mind, heart, and soul, you become more effective in every area of your life.  In this way, you take care of your most important asset – you!

Principles of Balanced Self-Renewal

When you take time to rest, relax, and renew, you are sharpening the saw.  Renewal allows you to take on the challenges of daily living.  Your “saw” consists of your body, heart, mind, and soul.  It is vital to Sharpen the Saw in all four dimensions.

  • Body – You build physical wellness through proper nutrition, exercise, rest, and stress management.
    • Exercise regularly
    • Eat a balanced diet
  • Heart – You become stronger socially and emotionally by making consistent deposits into others’ Emotional Bank Accounts.
    • Cultivate personal relationships
    • Listen sincerely to others
  • Mind – You increase mental capacity by reading, writing, thinking, and discussing your ideas.
    • Develop a new skill
    • Go to the library
  • Soul – You develop spiritually by reading inspirational literature, meditating, performing service, and spending time in nature.
    • Serve others
    • Watch the sunset

Renewal is a gift you give yourself, not an imposition.  If you want to live a quality life and achieve work/life balance, you have to focus on your highest priorities and execute according to your plans.  As you attempt to renew yourself regularly, recognize that you may encounter obstacles.  For example, you may feel like you do not have time to Sharpen the Saw.  Or you may feel you lack self-discipline to follow through on your plans.  Some common obstacles include the following:

  • I can’t get up in the morning.
  • I don’t have the discipline to eat healthy.
  • I lose my temper too easily.
  • I don’t have time to read or do other hobbies.

You need to make a list of your personal obstacles, and then identify ways to overcome each one.  Below are some tips, ideas, and encouragements for overcoming obstacles and developing the habit of Sharpen the Saw:

  • Start Small – Start your path with an activity that motivates you. 
  • Keep it Going – Continue any successful activity you’re already doing…no need to reinvent the wheel!
  • Take Your Time – Play with different ideas, and experiment until you find the right combination of things that work for you.
  • Don’t Overwhelm Yourself – If all of your activities fill daily time slots, you could become overwhelmed rather than enlivened.  Go easy on yourself and don’t expect a quick fix.
  • Continually Adjust – Very rarely will a plan work forever.  Times changes, and your interests and abilities change too.  Rotating new activities in will help you stick to your plan to Sharpen the Saw weekly.
  • Be Self-Aware – Your likes, dislikes, and personal style will help you plan activities that yield your greatest restorative potential.  Make time to explore and identify activities that fall within this category.
  • Choose a Buddy – Plan activities that involve someone else.  In this way, you can motivate each other and brainstorm new and creative activities.

What did I get out of this principle?  Quite often, we get so caught up in the day-in and day-out business of life that we rarely step back and spend any time focusing on taking care of ourselves.  We need to identify ways to really renew ourselves in each of the four dimension of our nature, then literally schedule it in and stick to it, because it’s important!

That’s it folks…I’ve just wrapped up a complete overview of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey.  I hope you have enjoyed our time together.

There will come a time when you believe everything is finished.  That will be the beginning. ~ Louis L’Amour



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