Graphic illustration for Sharpening your Saw article, cyan, circular saw blades.

Change of Plans

Sharpening Your Saw: 11 Tools, Tips & Tech

By Jayne Leigh Hallock

Originally published over 30 years ago, Steven Covey’s book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is still considered something of a business bible. Leaders still quote it, millions still read it, generations just plain dig it. Concise and simple, it offers productivity advice that can be applied to anyone’s personal AND professional life.

One of the most famous habits in the book is this: “Sharpen the Saw. Don’t work yourself to death. Strive for a sustainable lifestyle that affords you time to recuperate, recharge and be effective in the long-term. “

And what better time than right now to recuperate and recharge? This involuntary pause that we’re all experiencing affords us more down time than we’ve had in long time. Years for some of us. Being forced to break our (often grueling) routine presents the perfect opportunity to start new habits.

Now, there’s down time and then there’s down time. Of course, when the quarantine first hit many of us, quite understandably, sought escapism. Stress relief. Time with family, a few moments to simply relax. And that’s fine! Shutting it all down is part of the solution, a means to manage our way through this.

But escapism won’t hone that blade on its own. You have to clearly, consciously make choices with what to do with all of this time. Covey suggests 4 different aspects of sharpening your saw: Physical, Spiritual, Mental, and Social. And, lucky for you, we’ve researched the best tools and technology to assist you in each.



The mind-body connection is very well established, so tuning up your physical self will definitely amp your productivity. Here are some tools and technologies that can help you pump up both.

Johnson & Johnson’s 7 Minute Workout App

Voted the top short workout app by PC Mag, this app is a nice way to break up the monotony of endless dog walks. (No, you sniffed that already!)

Withings Smart Scale

This is the next level of fitness technology. This scale not only weighs you, but also monitors your body fat & water percentage, muscle & bone mass, and standing heart rate.


Tracks your daily nutrition, suggests diet plans customized to your needs and lifestyle. Because taking care of your physical self is as much about what you stuff in your face as how much you move.


Step Counter Free & Calorie Burner: What sets this pedometer apart from others is simplicity. And the fact that, without GPS capability, it’s not the battery hog other activity apps can be.

Mental & Spiritual

The next two categories are related, but still distinct. Mental health support can keep us balanced and anxiety-free. Spirituality can then add a layer of hope and perspective – something everyone needs during these uber-nervous times. Here are a few apps that help you find both mental and spiritual support.

DayOne App

Journaling has long been regarded as a cornerstone of good mental health. This app makes it simple and convenient and will help you chronicle this unusual time.

My Phone Time App

Sure, phones are essential today. But too much of a good thing can be a problem. This app tracks how often you’re on the phone, what apps you’re using. You can even block the most distracting ones. (Looking at you, Insta!)

Calm App

One of the most popular meditation and mental health apps. Tracks sleep, plays restful music and more. Try not to zonk out, we dare you.

Circadian Optics Lattis Light Therapy Lamp

Don’t dismiss therapy lights as seasonal affective disorder relief. Even if you don’t suffer from SAD, these lights can help improve your sleep and focus while generally adding to your sense of well-being. Bonus: this one looks like a slick piece of art.


Staying connected during this time isn’t easy. But it’s absolutely crucial. Exercising the social muscle while in quarantine will help you readjust when we all get back together.

Sure, we have been preparing with online social networking for years, but there are even more ways to stay close.


A newcomer to the social networking scene, this app was created to bring back authentic human connection to social media. With zero ads and only allowing audio or video posts, it’s a refreshing antidote to hiding behind texts and filtered photos.

Photo Sharing Frame

For those much-loved but tech-averse friends (hi Grandma!) you can take the tech out of their hands with Photo Sharing Frame. Sharing photos instantly is a great way to feel connected.


Gamers are loving all this IRL down time. But it can get a bit lonely TBH. Bunch fixes that by allowing a video chat overlay on top of one game. Because nothing beats actually seeing your buddy’s expression when you lay down the smackdown.