Sharpen the Saw: A Closer Look on Habit #7 of Highly Effective Teens

Sharpen the Saw: A Closer Look on Habit #7 of Highly Effective Teens

sharpen the saw_be lincoln









Working with so many high-achieving students, I can’t help but notice how many of them need to “take a personal day”. Here is a day in the life of most of my middle and high school students:

5:30-6:00 AM: wake up

7:00 AM: Go to school; stay focused for 5+ hours

12:00-12:30 PM: Eat lunch

12:30 – 3:00 PM: Back to class; stay focused for another 3+ hours

3:00-4:00 PM: School is dismissed

4:00 – 6:00 PM: Soccer practice/band practice/dance classes

6:00 – 7:00 PM: Student Council/debate club/NHS meeting

7:15 PM: Grab a quick dinner before studying

8:00 – ?? PM/AM: Study for a rigorous AP course load


To any adult, this schedule looks like a nightmare. It is comprised of at least 10 hours of straight focus, and barely includes any time for a meal.

Unfortunately, with college admissions becoming increasingly competitive, it is pretty unlikely that this kind of workload will change. BUT—this does not mean all is lost. It simply means that we must sharpen the saw pretty regularly. That means taking a break and doing things that help rejuvenate you (this does not include stalking people on Instagram). Go read a book (for pleasure, not Jane Eyre), take a mini-road trip, listen to music, play with the dog…you get the idea.

Stephen Covey recommends we sharpen the saw for an hour every day. While this may seem somewhat overindulgent, consider this an investment in yourself. And what better investment could there be?

invest in yourself