Too many of us regularly disregard Dr Stephen Covey’s 7th habit: the need to ‘sharpen the saw’. We all know about preserving and enhancing your greatest asset – you – but do you REALLY do so? How many of us actually ‘blunt the saw’ by our regular weekend activities?
At one stage in my career at Woolies I was working with a group (in central office) who always worked a half-day on Saturday. I easily slipped into the same routine. Did I get more done? Absolutely not! I soon found that during the week I’d put aside key tasks. I’d convince myself that these tasks would be better tackled on the weekend when the quiet office would allow for greater concentration. But on the weekend a casual attitude pervaded and I’d do about 1 hour of work in 4 hours. So I was not productive; AND I was missing out on so much else.
Compare this low level of productivity to what you can churn through when going on leave. My experience is that most of us can get through 4 hours of work in 1 hour to set up for a decent holiday break.
Why can’t we do similarly to get a proper weekend break?
There are some common (and unsurprising) themes in what the experts suggest as ideal weekend activities. To sharpen your saw they suggest:
Have you ever had a lazy Saturday where you made no plans and so you sort of meandered through the day? Come Saturday night did you feel you’d wasted the day having done nothing? The common advice is to take 5-10 minutes on a Friday evening or early Saturday to plan the weekend. Just a rough outline or some bullet points.
Even former accountants like me need to socialise. Create an opportunity to catch up with family and/or friends.
Switch off your technology; or at least disconnect for a block of time. Don’t visit your computer screen for any work. Give your eyes and brain a rest from the demands of technology. Don’t check or respond to ANY work emails. Avoid work phone calls. A good friend of mine received a call from his manager on Christmas morning to discuss work issues……. What does that say about her concept of ‘sharpen the saw’.
What do you enjoy? Going for a walk; reading; Sunday breakfast at your local café? Saturday morning read of the papers? Make sure you schedule this to occur.
Household ‘to do’
There are ALWAYS things which need attending to around the home. When planning the weekend, add them to the list – but make it a short list! How long have you been putting off that clean out of the garage? Or weeding that overgrown garden? Sunday nights feel a whole lot better when you’ve attended to some of these household chores.
It is surprising how little exercise we do when we know how important it is. Life can be so busy through the week that exercise is easily put off. When planning the weekend, add some exercise time. Better still, join a group so you combine exercise with social. I’ve noticed a lot more walking clubs springing up; and social golf for mixed groups.
Friday night/Saturday morning is the best time to take 5-10 minutes to plan the weekend. However Sunday afternoon/evening is the best time to take the same time out to reflect and plan out the week. What is the ONE key thing you should tackle in the next week?
I’m as guilty as anyone in spending a few hours of a Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon to catch up on some work tasks. I’m compelled to write this blog having had a glorious weekend (the first for a while) which exactly mirrors the expert advice outlined above. To top it off I had a Sunday afternoon of golf with my wife – a fabulous afternoon not even ruined by the quality of my game.
The experts are 100% correct. So for all you weekend work warriors: give it a go and sharpen your saw.