Viewpoint: Healthy lifestyle

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Finding time to sharpen the saw

Sharpening the Saw: namely, the act of “preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have — you,” says Stephen R. Covey’s book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”

Sharpening the Saw: literally, something college students just don’t have a lot of time for.

When a typical day involves waking up early, rushing to school, sitting in class, eating to stay awake, sitting through more class, grabbing food from vending machines, going to work, walking home, making dinner, doing homework and possibly crawling into bed at some unholy hour after midnight just so you can wake up and do it all over again in a few hours, sharpening the saw is less of a requirement and more of a highly unattainable luxury.

However, as we all know, it’s also a necessity.

We’ve all been there. It’s finals, we made it through the whole semester (or term), we have relatively good grades and are feeling kind of comfortable. Then, the final week hits. There are seven projects (even though you’re only in five classes), three papers, four quizzes and, of course, the actual final. It’s not that you procrastinated, you were working on other things all semester.

But then, when all things are coming down and you don’t think it could be any worse, the dreaded stress cold attacks.

You’ve worn yourself thin, pulled a few too many all-nighters, eaten a few too many Hot Pockets and now you’re paying for it — one week too early.

Personally, I’m quite familiar with the stress cold. I get it every year. Each time I do, after calling home to complain to my should-be-worried mother, I get a lecture composed of “you should eat better” and “have you thought about sleeping?”

Yes, Mother, I have thought about sleeping. Mainly in the middle of my all-nighters.

Sarcasm aside, the stress cold causes substantial problems in pre-final preparation.

This term, don’t let it strike in your life.

I realize I’m challenging the impossible. I know right now you don’t have a single minute to spare, but if you use a few to relax and renew, you’ll have plenty more.

Use this story from “The 7 Habits” to illustrate my point.

You’re walking through a forest and see someone sawing a tree. Since they look absolutely exhausted (think back to those dark circles you saw under your eyes this morning) you ask them how long they’ve been working.

“Over five hours,” they reply. Of course they’re tired. But you wonder, the saw must have dulled by now. So, you offer your support.

“Why don’t you take a break to sharpen your saw,” you ask. “I’m sure it’ll be easier once you do.”

“That’s ridiculous,” the worker replies. “I’ve no time to sharpen my saw — I’ve work to do!”

We all can see what’s ridiculous about this story. If the worker would just take a second to relax, maybe sleep and physically sharpen his saw, he’d be done by now.

However, since he won’t, he’s probably out there sawing the tree with the equivalent of a butter knife by now.

So feel free to take the time to sharpen your saw. You can’t take hours — that’s not the point — but do something fun to help yourself relax.

Take a break from homework and go get an ice cream.

Let some homework slide until tomorrow and get some sleep.

Leave your apartment (or the library) for an hour and go for a run.

The world won’t end, you won’t fail your classes, but you may start feeling productive, industrious and happier.


Allie McCoy is the opinion editor for The Daily Universe. This viewpoint represents her opinion and not necessarily that of The Daily Universe, BYU, its administration or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


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