Keep the Chisel Sharp: Don't Let a Disordered Sense of Work Dull You

Do you work too much? You're like a chisel. If you work too much, you get dull. A dull tool is useless and dangerous.

Sharpen yourself with restful activity.

Chisels: They Get Dull

As I noted in an earlier post, I'm taking a woodworking class. In the class, I'm learning how to use chisels. 

Here's the thing about chisels: they need sharpening — often. You can't just chisel, and chisel, and chisel, and chisel, and hope for results just as good as when you started. 

The chisel dulls. And when the chisel dulls, the work it produces is useless.

Or it can be worse than useless: a dull chisel can harm the work or the hand. 

I thought about the need for sharpening the chisel when I was reading a book called Rework.

Workaholism: It Dulls the Worker

In Rework, the authors — Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson — point out that workaholism is a bizarre condition — a belief that mere hours spent is somehow worthy of celebration. And it doesn't work:

Not only is this workaholism unnecessary, it's stupid. Working more doesn’t mean you care more or get more done. It just means you work more.

The attitude of "more work, more hours" is a kind of forcing of something dull, as with a too-worn chisel:

Workaholics miss the point, too. They try to fix problems by throwing sheer hours at them. They try to make up for intellectual laziness with brute force.

And the brutal dullness of the workaholic attitude harms the finished product:

If all you do is work, you’re unlikely to have sound judgments. Your values and decision making wind up skewed.

Think of yourself as a kind of living instrument — you're here to get important work done. Don't dull yourself; take the time to keep yourself sharp.

Strengthen and Sharpen Yourself — Recuperate by Changing Your Activity

I'll finish with this from St Josemaría Escrivá:

I have always seen rest as time set aside from daily tasks, never as days of idleness. 
Rest means recuperation: to gain strength, form ideals and make plans.
In other words it means a change of occupation, so that you can come back later with a new impetus to your daily job. — The Furrow, 514