Sharpening the saw is about self-care

Last weekend, I made a conscious effort to separate my work from my leisure time. I skied the French Alps the old fashion way – without a phone. I know that skiing with a phone can be a lifesaver, but that weekend, I skied with my husband John and a group of friends and all of them had phones. I was in good hands.

Back in the chalet, we listened to music, danced, exchanged stories and cooked. No one worked on their computer, no one spent time on their phone and no one watched TV. When John and I got back home on Sunday evening, we both felt relaxed and refreshed. We were ready to start our week. We had sharpened our saws.

More and more, at home and work, we interact with devices and technology and take on numerous tasks. More and more, we forget to give our brains a break. As I mentioned in a previous post, multi-tasking is an addiction that can deteriorate brain function. Studies show that too much multi-tasking can have a negative impact on our health, our work performance and productivity.

Hitting the pause button and disengaging yourself from work are crucial to your mental and physical health. You shouldn’t only pause when you have headaches, indigestion, insomnia or back pain. You should also pause when you feel good.

Your best work performance is dependent on the quality of your rest. Whether you’re skiing, walking in the forest or exploring a park, switching off from work and from technological devices will help you to go back to work feeling refreshed and renewed. At the office, work in bursts of 30 to 45 minutes and take regular walking breaks or consider adopting a time management technique such as the Pomodoro .

In the video below, Conor Neill talks about Steven Covey’s 7th Habit of Highly Effective People, which is about sharpening the saw, or setting aside some time each day to renew and take care of yourself. Many people, including me, have trouble adopting this habit. What activities do you do to sharpen your saw?

Julie Zimmer

Julie has extensive experience in nursing practice and education in a wide range of fields from intensive/coronary care, to medical-surgical to community and public health. Julie has Bachelor Degrees in Psychology and Nursing, and a Master’s Degree in Community Health Nursing Education. She has taught in faculties of nursing and in various communities in Toronto, Canada and in Geneva, Switzerland, and is a consultant to the International Council of Nurses (ICN). Julie also has years of experience teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) in addition to coordinating an English department in a Swiss private school.

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