As an entrepreneur, business owner or manager, you probably already know about one of the principles of highly effective people, defined by Stephen Covey:
to sharpen the saw.
What does this mean?
This means taking time off to recharge your batteries so that you can be more successful in everything you do afterwards. As it is described in Stephen Covey’s book. If you have read the book, you may remember the story about a man who cuts a tree: if you cut the tree all day without stopping (because you can’t afford to rest), you may not be able to cut it down. However, if you take the time to rest and sharpen your saw (so that it is sharper and you have more strength), you will be able to do it much faster.
Where is the challenge?
The main difficulty in taking such time off to “sharpen the saw” comes from the fact that at first glance it seems that we need to rest or recharge physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually, while a bunch of unfinished business awaits us. Many business owners say, “I can’t afford to spend time off until I have enough income,” or “until I get done all this urgent work I have.”
But why is it important to find time to recharge?
Well, for the same reason that the man who cuts wood needs it. You need time to recharge physically so that you have more energy later and work more productively and to make the difficult decisions in your business and not to procrastinate. All this requires a lot of energy. In addition to physical energy, you also need emotional energy – and it comes when you get rid of stress and spend time with friends and loved ones. You also need time to learn new things and rethink your business from a new angle. To see opportunities that you would not otherwise see while buried in work.
How can you do all this in practice?
No matter how much work you have and no matter how difficult it is to disconnect from business and the day-to-day work, you need to create clear rules for this.
For me, the rule is, no matter how much work there is, two days a week not to do anything business related. This is a time for exercise, time for family and brain rest. With this detachment from business, in addition to recharging myself with physical and emotional energy, I can look at the next day with new ideas for the things I do and develop.
And in addition to this time off every week (you can start with one day and eventually move to 2 days and even 3 days as I am now moving), we need to have periods in which we have a bigger break from business. In other words, we need larger vacations. But vacations where we don’t think about business at all, we don’t constantly check our employees and we don’t take care of the problems at the moment. We do not answer the phone and we do not check our messages on Facebook and e-mail. After such a week, you will return much more motivated, inspired and determined to do the things you may not have decided to do before. And most importantly: you will come up with new ideas to implement.
Your task now is to decide two things:
- On which day of the week will you completely break away from your business and not do anything related to it? This day can be fixed (for example, every Sunday), or it can be floating every week, but make sure you have it. Or, if you already have such a day, decide to have 2 days off every week.
- Decide and block time in your calendar for bigger vacations. Start with 2-3 day weekends and then an entire week off. And stop worrying that during this time your business will die and that’s why you can’t leave it. Whenever you have such worries, recall in your head the example of the woodcutter and the sharpening of the saw. Because this example is not just a metaphor, and no matter how different your situation is, the rules are the same.