If we wish to live more than an ok life, one important area in our time management we need to include is time for self improvement. Through self improvement and self renewal we can spiral upwards to living more than ok. Too often in our lives the stuff of life snuffs out opportunities to take the time in our schedule to improve ourselves.
I like the metaphor in Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In his seventh habit he calls it Sharpen the Saw. He looks at Sharpening the Saw as our taking time to improve ourselves in four areas of our lives: Physical, Social, Mental, and Spiritual. The Saw metaphor reminds us that we are a useful tool in our daily living with our work and interaction with others. Also as I have mentioned in the past we each have a purpose. Saws are purposeful when cutting wood, cutting limbs off trees, or cutting plastic/metal pipes to the correct length.
When our life is dull as a saw, it loses it’s effectiveness to fulfill it’s purpose. We become overcome with boredom and feel purposeless. The dullness also allows our lives to become out of balance and controlled by the stuff of life. We become stuck on autopilot with too many things happening to us instead of taking control and responsibility ourselves to make life happen for our advantage. The dull saw life is living just ok, getting by and enduring the sense of despair. A saw is not meant to be dull and rusty instead to fulfill its purpose, needs to be shiny and sharp. For maximum living we need to be shiny and sharp. That is what sharpening the saw is about.
Looking at the four areas Covey speaks of the first is the Physical. I have touched on this before. Are you taking time in your week for physical fitness? Three to four times a week you should be in some type of physical activity. I mentioned as a heart patient I exercise daily. I regularly use the treadmill and elliptical machines for aerobic exercise. I have also mentioned that my wife and I do a Leslie Sansone Walk at Home workout several times a week. Of course find out what works for you, gyms, neighborhood jogging, other dvd exercise programs of your choice. The key is to make it a part of your life rituals.
The second area is the Social. I haven’t discussed relationships yet in my blog postings but I will go more in depth in the future. As the saying goes, “No man is an island”. We all interact with others on a daily basis. That is why emotional intelligence is important. Managing and controlling our emotions to better improve our interactions with family, friends and strangers. Do you make time to improve your relationship connections with the significant people in your lives? Taking time to keep family strong and close relationships strong can keep your saw sharp and effective in your other interactions you face in life.
The third area is Mental. From my previous posting on critical thinking, you know the mental aspect of our lives is very important to me. We cannot be effective if our mind is dull. It hampers our thinking and causes us to make poor choices which then brings about negative consequences in our daily living. You can improve this area by becoming a Bookhead like me. Reading expand and strengthens our mind. Read more on topics you enjoy and expand your reading to new topics. You may also want to take a class at a local university or community college to sharpen your mind.
Then the fourth area is the Spiritual. One can improve in this realm of our being by following their religious heritage. As I have mentioned mine is the Christian heritage. For those without a religious heritage, who may consider themselves agnostic or atheist the spiritual can still have a place in taking time for Mindfulness Meditation, or taking time alone to reflect in nature. Those who follow a religious path need to place into their time schedule a daily time for spiritual development based on their particular teachings. I try each day to find time for devotion and prayer.
In closing, how is your saw doing? To live the best life possible we need to take control of our time and place in our schedules time for Sharpening the Saw. As we improve physically, socially, mentally, and spiritually we will have more energy and be more alert for the other major areas in our busy schedule. If we don’t it will be like sawing a tree with a dull rusty blade. We won’t get the job done and we may even break.
Rate yourself in the four areas: Physical, Social, Mental, and Spiritual. Which area are your strongest in? Which area do you need the most growth in?
What physical activities are you involved in?
How are you working to improve your most significant relationships?
How are you improving your Mental side of your life? Are you reading a new book? Have you considered taking a Continuing Education course at a local College or an online course?
Do you take time each day to improve your spiritual life?