Sharpen the Saw
We spoke to employees about how they stay sharp at work. We thought the following recommendations truly captured the concepts of "sharpening the saw" and professional renewal.
I always take the last hour of my day on Friday (or Saturday as the case may be) to get my work space back into a “state of readiness.” I’ll clean up my desk, file papers, clean out my email… whatever it takes to put everything in its place. I also take a few minutes to “bookmark” my projects so that on Monday (or Sunday as the case may be) I can jump right back in. I know that one hour at the end of my week saves two or three the following week.
I tend to use my weekends to develop my sense of hardiness…some kind of high adventure so that when I go to work on Monday and that stress hits me, I feel like I can meet the challenge. I’m refreshed. I feel in control because I have an increased locus of control. Sailing. Climbing. Bicycling. I have to do at least one thing each weekend that is physically and psychologically challenging.
One of the fastest ways for me to rejuvenate myself is to tackle some chores. Maybe it comes from my upbringing in a small, rural town, but hard physical labor that results in visible proof of accomplishment really feels good. I especially appreciate the extra rush when others comment on my efforts.
I’m fortunate that my family dinners are so fun. They’re definitely my source of renewal. About three days a week we cook together, eat together and just catch up on what happened during the day. The next day I invariably catch myself smiling about something funny that was said the previous evening.
There is nothing like a long hike or picnic to get me back on track. Just being outside for a few hours doing nothing…maybe reading or walking…it’s amazing how well it can clear my head and put things into perspective. I try to force myself outside in the winter too, because once I get out there I feel so much better.
I’m almost embarrassed to admit this, but I love making spreadsheets and writing macros…just little things to automate the repetitive administrative work I have to handle. This feels like a real “saw sharpening” activity to me. It can be hard to fight the demand of the daily work load to carve out enough time to do the kind of work that eases future workloads.
One of the instances of professional renewal that I have had recently is a day-long workshop about search engine optimization. I learned so much and came up with four pages of ideas that I am really excited about implementing on our site. Learning something new at work is the best use of my time…sometimes I forget that and don’t schedule accordingly. This year I’m committing to two training classes.