In his book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey uses the analogy of a woodcutter who has been sawing for several days straight and has become less and less productive.

After all, cutting dulls the blade so the woodcutter needs to periodically sharpen his saw.

The story Covey tells goes something like this:

Two men were in the forest together sawing wood. One of the men worked unceasingly, taking no breaks and stopping only briefly for lunch. The other paused on numerous times through the day and even took a short nap after lunch. By nightfall, the first man was astonished to see that the other man had cut more wood than him!

“I don’t understand it,” he said. “Every time I looked around, you seemed to be sitting down. Yet you’ve accomplished more than I have. How is that?”

His companion responded: “Didn’t you notice that while I was sitting down, I was sharpening my saw?”

Most people fail to understand what sharpening the saw really means. If you’re overworking yourself and your productivity begins to fall off, common wisdom says to take a break, maybe even go on vacation.

However, that isn’t sharpening the saw — that’s putting the saw down! When you put down a dull blade for a while, the blade will still be dull when you pick it up again.

To Sharpen the Saw means preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have – you!

It means having a balanced program for self-renewal in four key areas of your life: BODY, HEART, MIND & SOUL.

Maintaining balance in these key areas keeps you at your best, increasing your capacity to handle the challenges around you. Without constant renewal, the body becomes weak, the emotions raw, the mind mechanical and the soul insensitive.

To maintain the BODY, engage in activities such as healthy diet, exercise and rest. The HEART needs meaningful relationships, whilst the MIND requires learning, reading and writing. Finally, the SOUL is fed through the arts, meditation and prayer.

So, how are you going to sharpen the saw this week?