Trying too hard?

In Stephen Covey’s book, ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’, he writes about ‘sharpening the saw’, an idea explained by the story of a man who was getting nowhere trying to cut down a tree with a blunt saw.

Struggling on ineffectively, the man explained that he was too busy to get the tool sharpened.

Do you wonder if sometimes we all try too hard?

You have a million and one things to do, but you’re tired, and this probably means you’ll (a) achieve little, and (b) end up even more tired in the process.

I was sitting at my desk the other day trying to force myself to think, but the thinks simply wouldn’t come, so with no great plan in mind I got up and went for a walk, and – well – you can probably guess the rest.

As soon as I stopped trying to force myself, everything slotted into place.

It’s worth remembering this when that same feeling strikes you.

Sometimes we all need to step away from the tree to sharpen that saw.

4 thoughts on “Trying too hard?

  1. Thank you for reminding me of Stephen Covey’s life changing book 7 habits. Can’t stop to write more now, off to sharpen that saw!

  2. One trick: take small steps. When I feel overwhelmed by too much to do and only a blunt saw to work with, I start by doing something — anything — that’s just one small step: run a load of laundry, take the dog for a walk (double bonus — get outside and get moving), pick up the dry cleaning, better yet pick up a book. Anything that gets me out of the house is best because often that’s all it takes (not necessary to get it all done, but to feel better). Getting to the gym is always a win.

    I also work on forgiving myself if I don’t get everything done.

  3. Thanks Jon, I’m two days late reading this but that’s fine with me. After just the first sentence I was reminded of the frustrations I had when working for a firm that didn’t have its act together; poorly trained staff, lack of space, user unfriendly systems, in particular shabby premises and software not fit for purpose. It reminded me how miserable I was working there and how much better I felt when I quit. That was two years ago. I no longer feel oppressed and, thanks to your posts and comments from subscribers I no longer feel alone in my depression.

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