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Thursday Insight: Sharpen Your Saw

Thursday Insight: Sharpen Your Saw

A few months ago, I started looking into Wellbeing and Mindfulness and how it could help improve workplace performance.

Since then, the world has turned on its head. We are learning to adapt to a new ‘normal’ and the impact this is having on the mental and physical health of all of us.

One of the best pieces of advice I was given when learning about Wellbeing is to revisit one of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Sharpen Your Saw.

In the book, Dr Covey describes a woodcutter trying to cut down a tree with a blunt saw. When it is suggested to the woodcutter that he stops cutting and sort out his saw first, he refuses, saying he doesn’t have time, needs to get the tree chopped urgently.

The moral of the story is clear:

Look after yourself before you do anything else. You are your own most precious resource.

Dr Covey identified four areas that we all need to focus on:

  • Physical (beneficial eating, exercise and resting).
  • Social/Emotional (making social and meaningful connections with others).
  • Mental (reading, writing, learning and study).
  • Spiritual (spending time in nature, meditation, music, art, prayer, or volunteering).

Time spent renewing each of the four areas, will help you to handle challenges in work or life.

In the current circumstances, it might seem wishful thinking, especially whilst we’re all social distancing.

But, as it looks like life will be altered for quite a while, it is really important to set aside time to nurture yourself. For instance, could you replace the time you’d normally spend on your daily commute by exercising or reading?

How about developing new skills? From a work perspective, we’ve got some great e-Learning for you. Alternatively, this could be a great chance to write a short story or poem (publish it on

The social side is the hardest, but there are still ways we can be connected. For instance, my running group holds a weekly virtual pub quiz using Kahoot! It’s really easy to use and a lot of fun to play. Best of all it’s free!

So, spend a few minutes this afternoon identifying three things you will do to Sharpen Your Saw.

Look after yourself.


May 7 2020 Frances Ferguson
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Frances Ferguson

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