Usually when I think about Covey’s 7 Habits, I think about his wisdom of the great No, which is you must say “No” to the unimportant things to be able to say “Yes” to the things that matter most. It is an important insight and one of the most important for my life because I’m inclined to say “Yes” all the time.
But today I am thinking about his Seventh Habit: Sharpening the Saw.
Steve and I read an excellent post by a woman who writes and publishes a book a month on the 20Booksto50K Facebook group. I was fascinated by her writing speed and her work ethic. (She writes ten hours a day with a fifteen minute break each hour.) Steve pointed out that the most important insight was what happened on days 11-20 of her schedule: “Relax. Refill the creative well.”
We are not machines. We need downtime. We also need experiences (both real and virtual) to refill our creative well. We need to do what Covey called Habit 7 Sharpen the Saw.
Habit 7 isn’t really about vegging out with Candy Crush. It is about intentional steps we take to ensure that our body, mind, spirit, and heart are in working condition. It encompasses:
- Exercise and eating right for our bodies.
- Intellectual stimulation for our minds.
- Meditation and prayer for our spirits
- Maintenance of our critical relationships for our hearts.
Steve is right. I slid right over “Relax and refill the creative well.” That speaks badly of me. I’m too anxious to get to the new great thing and I, incorrectly, prioritize work over other things.
Habit 7 is just as important as anything else because without sharpening the saw or refilling my creative well, I eventually run into the limits. I will eat my seed corn and nothing will remain to be planted tomorrow. I will get sick. I will collapse from exhaustion. I will destroy my relationships. I will use it all up too soon.
I have a friend who is planning a mini-retreat to meditate in a beautiful place. I admire that. But I don’t need to retreat somewhere else to sharpen the saw. I just need to schedule it into my normal day.
I hope you are making time for renewal of body, mind, spirit, and heart. If, like me, you need to do better, I’m cheering you on. Life isn’t ultimately about our work, even work as convivial as writing. It is about life itself.
Do something good today, friends.