If you’re a carpenter, you have to spend some time in sharpening your tools. If you don’t, the tools will get blunt and you won’t be able to do your job effectively. After a point, you won’t be able to do your job at all. (Yeah, I know you’re not a carpenter.)
Sharpening the saw is a metaphor used by Stephen Covey (I read it in the book First Things First) to describe the preparatory activities, the learning activities that we need to spend time on. Covey et al write:
We often get so busy “sawing” (producing results) that we forget to “sharpen our saw” (maintain or increase our capacity to produce results in the future).
They go on to talk about what happens when we neglect one or more of the four areas (physical, mental, social/emotional, spiritual) in our life.
If we fail to build our personal capacity in these areas, we quickly become “dulled”, and worn out from the imbalance.
I’ve noticed that many people I know don’t devote time to sharpening the saw and then they end up being overwhelmed as newer challenges crop up. I find that I’m always facing newer challenges that need different techniques from the ones I’ve learnt before. So, right now, I’m currently reading (and trying to implement) Getting Things Done (GTD) by David Allen.
Do you take time out to sharpen your saw?