Time Management: "Sharpening the Saw"
The Industrial Age from which we are presently emerging had no time for non-doing work. Work was organised to fill up the time with as much productive activity as possible. In the Information Age into which we have now moved, productive work requires intelligence and creativity. Time to stop and think - or "sharpening the saw" - has become an essential feature of working.
1. Let Things Happen
One of the reasons why stress is at record levels in all our workplaces is the belief that you must be active all the time for anything to happen. In fact, the contrary is the case. When you remove yourself and trust that things will happen as they should, then, even if we don’t always understand how, things will happen at the right time in the right way. As Benjamin Hoff says in “The Tao of Pooh”: “It’s hard to explain, except by example, but it works. Things just happen in the right way, at the right time. At least they do when you let them, when you work with circumstances instead of saying, “This isn’t supposed to be happening this way” and trying hard to make it happen in some other way. If you’re in tune with The Way Things Work, then they work the way they need to, no matter what you may think at the time.”
2. Use Your Brains
All of us possess an amazing machine in our brains known as the creative sub-conscious. This is the source of all our best ideas. Yet, when we are rushing around like headless chickens, we don’t allow our sub-conscious brains to come to our rescue. Often we put a lot of busyness into a task only to realize later on that, if we’d stopped and thought about things, we could have found a smarter, quicker, or more productive solution.
3. Stop and Tune In
In his book “Life Tide”, writer Lyall Watson records the phenomenon of a group of macata fuscata monkeys stranded on a Japanese island all discovering the right way to prepare food even though they weren’t in any obvious form of contact with each other. It was as if there were a collective consciousness telling them what to do. The same thing can happen to human beings. We can sense the times, sniff the wind, and roll with the tides. In this way, we can tune in to what is happening and make the journey free and effortless.
4. Take a Break
Breaks are essential for productive work. Research shows that there is a basic physiological rhythm to our day governed by our automatic and endocrine systems. This is known as the Break – Rest – Activity Cycle and lasts between 90 and 120 minutes. That’s why breaks are necessary to give us energy and refresh us.
5. Take Time to Plan
In the West, we prize action over inaction. We, therefore, complete one task and hurry on to the next. In the East, by contrast, non-action is prized as highly as action, if not more. These cultures like to measure progress by more means than just results. They spurn impatience and hurry, knowing that, if you prepare well, a moment eventually arrives when things are ready for implementation and they practically complete themselves.
6. Take Time Out
It is when you work in fast-moving environments that you need to remember to take time out. Time out enables you to get away from all the problems that usually clutter up your work and see things more clearly. When running Microsoft, Bill Gates, used to take a week out of his schedule every year to go somewhere where nobody could reach him just to think things through. This habit made him into one of the richest people on the planet.
7. Meet with Yourself
Just as sufficient planning before action can reduce the time a project takes, so can review after the action. In fact, in repetitive tasks it is vital. Review, or meeting with yourself, enables you to look back and learn. You can see the big picture and put things into some kind of perspective. It also enables you to see the mistakes you made and to consider how you can do things better next time.
Non-doing work isn’t just thinking and planning; it’s also recuperating and refreshing yourself. In his bestselling book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, Stephen Covey called it “sharpening the saw” and made it one of the keystones of personal effectiveness.
Here is the link to your free Time Management e-course.