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  • Tom Lewis

Sharpening the saw

Updated: Nov 7, 2019


Don’t work harder, work smarter.

Over the years my father has shared many things with me about “life,” lessons he usually learned the hard way and passed on to me. His hope was that I wouldn’t suffer as much as he did during his long and very successful advertising career. One of the lessons he shared was called, “sharpening the saw.”


Do something different

When you’re running on empty, everything you do becomes a challenge. Unexpected things happen and when too many things change all at once, it can create an enormous amount of stress. When this happens to me, I tend to go on autopilot and I find myself working really hard but not accomplishing very much. It’s like trying to cut through an oak tree with a dull saw blade.


When things get challenging, most people keep sawing and keep struggling and put in much more effort than necessary and never stop to address the problem, the dull saw blade. It seems so obvious, but most people just saw harder and longer thinking that they’re getting somewhere, when in fact the opposite is true.


Tap into your subconscious

Each day that I come into the office I’m bombarded with a new set of problems to solve and when I hit a big wall, I stop. That’s right, I switch gears and do something totally different. If headlines aren’t coming, or a design just isn’t working out, I quickly switch gears. I have learned over the years that when I step away from a problem for a period of time that the answer magically comes to me, without any effort. While I work on something mindless, my brain continues to work things out subconsciously.


Reap the rewards

The benefits of working smart can be profound: better health, more energy, higher productivity, better self-esteem, greater satisfaction with work.


The next time you get stuck, stuff envelopes, go to a movie or take a short vacation. Do anything to get your mind off of the problem and learn the benefits of sharpening the saw.


What lessons have you learned about working smarter?


Tom Lewis, Partner | Creative Director

With over 25 years of professional advertising and design experience, Tom has spent much of his career working with a variety of companies throughout the southeast. His client list includes Lenoir UNC Health Care, Maola Milk, Hutchens Law Firm, Wayne Community College, Craven County Tourism, Nash County Tourism Guardian Repellent, Equifax, Georgia Pacific, Primerica, Weyerhaeuser, The Atlanta Hawks, Randstad Staffing and The Shizzle Jerk Marinade.



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