A man runs across a woodcutter trying to chop down a tree. The poor woodcutter is sweating, muscles bulging as he hacks and hacks and hacks away at this tree trunk. Still he barely makes any progress. The observer notices the woodcutter’s saw is dull and asks “Why don’t you stop for an hour and sharpen your saw?” The woodcutter replies “Don’t you see I’m too busy trying to cut this tree down? I don’t have time to sharpen it!”
This is the story in Stephen Covey’s famous book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” In it, Stephen discusses “sharpening the saw” as one of the habits of highly effective people. You pause, you take a breather, you look over what you’re doing and you ask yourself “Is there a way I could be getting things done more effectively with less effort?”
Over the years I’ve found this applies to everything from running a business to making homemade applesauce. It definitely applies to marketing a business.
Here’s how to sharpen your marketing saw:
1) Download a free “Sharp Marketing Tool” (below) or get a couple of sheets of paper
2) Set a timer for 20 minutes, no distractions
3) Start listing what has worked with your business and what hasn’t. What marketing techniques or skills you’ve wanted to learn, what you can delegate. Set goals. If you use the Sharp Marketing Tool, you’ll find a handy set of questions to help guide you along.
4) Set dates to delegate, learn and accomplish goals.
5) Set a date once a month or once a quarter to review your tool and repeat this exercise.
6) Be amazed as you get more effective use out of your time and reduce your workload!
This week I’m at Asheville, NC where I’m attending a quarterly retreat to review what is working in my business, what are my next steps and how to best achieve them. This quarterly practice as well as weekly and monthly accountability with coaches has helped dramatically improve my business and my life. I love practicing what I teach – I wouldn’t recommend it if it didn’t yield results!
Taking time to think hard about my business can feel stressful (there are always other things I could be doing) and time consuming. However, after I’d tried it a few times I realized I was working with a dulled saw instead of using a nice sharp one. That time “wasted” actually ended up saving me more time later and giving me the energy and excitement to reach new and wonderful avenues with my business.
Looking for help with improving your marketing? Download a free Sharp Marketing Tool. I know it’ll be a big help!