As iron sharpens iron, so one habit sharpens another.
At the end of the day, I think: did I complete the most important things on my list? And I’m a list-maker, one of those people who keep multiple lists for everything—next action, calls, errands, someday/maybe, read/review, projects, and so on.
Despite my lists and what I’ve actually accomplished during the day, what I know for sure is that I rolled out of bed, showered, worked—at home and/ or on campus—ate at least five meals, and then returned to bed for another six to eight hours sleep. All to wake up again the next morning and repeat the process while asking myself, “Did I get it all done?”
When my days seem futile, I focus on Stephen Covey’ s seventh habit for highly effective people, Sharpen the Saw, to help me preserve and improve my greatest asset.
According to Covey, to Sharpen the Saw “means to have a balanced program for self-renewal in four areas of your life: physical, social/emotional, mental, and spiritual.
Physical: Beneficial eating, exercising, and resting
Social/Interpersonal: Making social and meaningful connections with others
Mental: Learning, reading, writing, and teaching
Spiritual: Spending time in nature, expanding spiritual self through meditation, music, art, prayer, or meditation
So, at the end of the day, instead of crossing off items on my list, I ask: Did I Sharpen my Saw?
Physical: I completed some form of exercise, whether on the treadmill, walking through the mall, up and down steps, or moving around the classroom or cleaning my apartment for at least thirty minutes.
Social/Emotional: I called my mother, touched based with my daughters, spoke to my best friend, attended an event, networked, and tweeted or liked a Facebook status.
Mental: For me teaching and writing go hand in hand; therefore, I cannot teach without learning, learn with reading, read without writing. Seems as though, I’m constantly honing this area of my life.
Spiritual: If I didn’t attend regular worship service and bible study, this area of my life would fall flat. I can’t just read a devotion or Bible verse, often times I have to meditate on it, like a cow I’m repeatedly regurgitating and re-chewing spiritual nutrients. My spiritual life is in a state of progress and process.
Frequently, these areas of my life overlap. Like when I’m walking on the treadmill, listening to music and reading. Or when I’m mediating on a scripture, then write it down as a prayer in my journal, and have the opportunity to talk about it with someone else.
And this Sharpen the Saw habit keeps me grounded, so when my head hits the pillow, I know my day was productive.