All Work and No Play?

This afternoon has me thinking about Stephen Covey’s 7th habit, Sharpen the Saw. I don’t have the book (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) in front of me at the moment, so this little explanation will be a paraphrase based on memory. Covey tells the story of a man trying hard to saw down a tree in the woods. The saw is rusty and dull, so the sawing is going slowly, and the woodcutter is especially tired. When asked why he doesn’t stop and sharpen his saw, he responds that he doesn’t have time. Doesn’t that sound cuckoo? He’d rather keep on getting nowhere fast than take a few minutes to sharpen his saw, an act that would speed up the tree cutting process and save some of his energy.

But can you see that little story applies to you? I can. In fact, this morning as I was out walking and enjoying this gorgeous weather, the woodcutter story came to mind. For the past two weekends, I’ve been doing fun stuff. Make that three weekends because the weekend I kept my precocious and beautiful grandchildren was a fun one too. Looking back, a few highlights include visits to two museums, dining out in cool restaurants (including a Mickey Dee’s where the grandchildren, Lib, and I enjoyed ice cream cones and fruit smoothies), getting a henna tattoo at Karma’s on Ocean Blvd. in Myrtle Beach (it’s already faded, alas), and shopping/ browsing.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been working, working, working too.  A strong believer in the Protestant work ethic, I buy into the “no free lunch” truism and have never been a shirker. Still…there comes a time when you need to walk away from the computer, the office, the firm, or the plant and sharpen the saw. When my children were little, one of my many mottoes was, “We work and then we play.” Too much work can make a person irritable, fatigued, and dull. Why some people think that working harder and harder and harder WITHOUT A BREAK is going to make them more successful and happier is beyond my comprehension.

Covey’s sharpening the saw recommendation is sort of like the phrase that, “All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.”  I’ve been at the computer for several hours (off and on) today, and now it’s time to have some fun.  Hmmm. Maybe I’ll take some time out to go to the library and read some cool magazines…or perhaps try a new cookie recipe. Then again, I noticed that a movie I’ve been wanting to see is playing downtown. I’m for sure going to do something “sharpening” so that when I get back to the work, I’ll feel refreshed.

What about you?

Author: jayne bowers

*married with children, stepchildren, grandchildren, in-laws, ex-laws, and a host of other family members and fabulous friends *semi-retired psychology instructor at two community colleges *writer

7 thoughts on “All Work and No Play?”

  1. Yep, I am all about “sharpening the saw”. It has only been in the last few years that I have really understood this principle. Work all week…Saturdays, clean house, run errands and then allow myself some “free” time only by that time I was exhausted so the free time was not rejuvinating!

  2. I think I’m one of those people who multitasks too much. For instance, I love a couple of the shows on TV now,and so I watch about a 30 minute show a day… while I am nursing, or folding laundry, or tidying, or cooking. So my veg time is combined with my work (the tasks that are so mindless I wouldn’t be motivated to do them otherwise.)

    As far as real “saw sharpening” (constructive fun, or fun tasks) are concerned… I try to get some creative writing, a little blogging, and a bike ride in every day. SIgh. Usually getting 2/3 means I’ve done my best.

  3. i like when you or marla or sherpa or lucy take the time to blog because that is a fix i need everyday or i go nuts, and yes i do talk to my wife but it just isn’t enough, am i just a bsy body or what is my problem????

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