Stephen Covey used the illustration of sharpening the Saw in his book, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” His premise was that it was more valuable to spend time sharpening the saw periodically than trying to chop down the tree with a blunt blade, which would take longer.
As a consultant, it’s common to have gaps between major projects. When this happened at other consulting companies I worked for in the past, I was forced to come into the office the next day despite working 80-hour weeks for months. It was one reason why I tended to burn out at jobs.
Now that I control my time, I find the Sharpening the Saw concept applicable for learning, but I also find it useful for rest and recovery, knowing how hard I work when I have a major project. So, I’ve adopted this approach with my newest business, Roundbox Consulting.
Sharpening the Saw this time:
With this current major project gap, this is how I sharpened my saw.
- Visited family in the US (which I haven’t been able to see for three years because of Covid).
- Spent extra time with friends around Australia.
- Attended an in-person conference and two virtual ones for software vendors.
- Began an online course with UC Berkley.
- Hired a new strength coach to help me with my fitness goals.
- Documented some processes for the podcast to help me eventually delegate more work to others.
- Finished my marketing plans for the year with a supporting budget.
- Read many books / listened to podcasts to help my business.
- Investigated some new software, specifically around notes and research.
- Prepared for the final closure of The Refoundry so that I can finally focus on Roundbox full time.
- Created lots and lots of new content to help with SEO.
This list is not exhaustive, but it represents what “Sharpening the Saw” looks like for me personally when I execute it well. I may not always have such long gaps between major projects, but my goal is not to waste that time whenever I do.
What would “Sharpening the Saw” look like for you?