Sharpening The Saw: The Role of Planning and Maintenance In Successful Living

May 21, 2014
imagesStephen Covey, in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People identifies a group of tasks that he calls Sharpening the Saw. These type of activities involve both preparation and maintenance. They don’t need to be schedules with a precise deadline. As a result they can get put on the back burner with no immediate negative consequences. Here are three general ways of thinking that might motivate you to keep your saw sharp.
(1) The general rule is that there is never time to prepare, but there is always time to get bogged down in fixing the problems that happened because you were not prepared.
(2) There is never time to do it right, but there is always time to fix the time-consuming cascade of problems that result from doing it wrong.
(3) Maintenance can always be put off until tomorrow, right up to the point of a critical meltdown in an important area of your life. Think about life as a car. You can put off changing the oil one-day-at-a-time, but eventually the engine starts having problems and eventually breaks down.
Don’t Get Stuck In The Middle Of The River
There was a man who was a bridge-builder on a tight schedule. He built the first section of the bridge, but didn’t have time to put in all the bolts on the support beams. To save time he took his tools and materials on the first section of the bridge, did not properly secure the bolts and then move his tools and equipment onto the third section of the bridge. By this time the first section of the bridge fell down behind him and he was so busy he did not even notice it — until he needed more supplies, turned around and found himself trapped on a middle span of the bridge high in the air with nowhere to go. He was trapped be half measures and the failure to plan and maintain.
How many of you know someone who never had time to spend with their spouse, until they found themselves communicating with an attorney after their spouse filed for divorce?There are five repeating steps in the cycle of successful living:
  • Get Ready,
  • Do It,
  • Clean Up,
  • Rest.
  • Start Again 

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