“Suppose you were to come upon someone in the woods working feverishly to cut down a tree. “What are you doing?” you ask.
“Can’t you see?” comes the impatient reply. “I’m cutting down this tree.” “You look exhausted!” you exclaim. “How long have you been at it?” “Over five hours,” he returns, “and I’m beat! This is hard work.” “Well, why don’t you take a break for a few minutes and sharpen that axe?” you inquire. “I’m sure it would go a lot faster.” “I don’t have time to sharpen the axe,” the man says emphatically. “I’m too busy cutting down tree!” — Stephen Covey, 7 habits of highly effective people.
I recall a time when I was a junior associate at Deloitte. I would spend hours trying to analyse and compile audit reports. Then a friendly senior associate took me aside and showed me a few tricks in Excel and Word. My productivity immediately improved. I enrolled for a 3 day course in advanced Excel analysis. I remember the training took place at Fairway hotel. I also started watching YouTube videos on how to analyse data quickly using Excel. I eventually learnt how to automate report writing and presentation of financial statements using Visual Basic.
Needless to say my productivity went through the roof. I could now produce a report wihin 30 minutes instead of the previous 5+ hours.
Sharpening the axe applies to all other areas of life including Physical, Spiritual, Mental and Social/Emotional.