I have a lot to get done this year. Last year a lot of my “free” time was focused on my coach training and getting certified. Some of my personal stuff had to go on hold. Now that I am “only” blogging and coaching and teaching, I have time to devote to other priorities. I created a big list and it felt somewhat overwhelming. That provided the perfect opportunity to try something new. Rather than focus on everything I want to get done, I am focused on a series of sprints.
Sprints are often used in software development. The coding team focuses solely on a finite set of tasks for a planned timeframe. One to two months is a normal sprint length. Some productivity systems now incorporate sprints, with the 12 Week Year (https://www.amazon.com/12-Week-Year-Others-Months/dp/1118509234) being the most notable. My own experience with sprints is more like the week before a vacation or out of town guest arriving. It’s that focused “gotta get stuff done” feeling with a deadline. The biggest benefit is the ability to focus.
I am implementing sprints like this.
I split things on my big to do list into categories – financial, home stuff, a new workshop I want to create, etc. Some things may end up in a miscellaneous sprint later in the year.
Based on those smaller lists, I chose timelines – my first sprint (financial) is 6 weeks, my second (home stuff) is 8. I put in a recovery week in between sprints to ensure that I am not going full out for too long. That also lines up with some vacation time, so it’s a bit of an incentive as well.
If something comes to mind that is not part of my sprint theme, I have two options. If it won’t take too long, I just do it. If it’s involved, it goes on a list for a future sprint. Being able to tell myself that I can get to it later takes it off my mind.
This part is important. In laying out my first sprint, I just deleted some stuff off the list. Even with 8 weeks, some stuff just won’t make the cut. This time constraint is helping me prioritize what is most important. For my sprints, I am being pretty ruthless in only taking on things that are really important.
Based on my sprint goals, I can then schedule things onto my calendar and make progress on them.
With an 8 week sprint, I am finding that taking some breaks (like a day off) actually helps. With my plan in place I can see where I can fit that in and still reach my overall goal.
As much as possible, I don’t have any deadline for individual activities other than the end of the sprint. I am treating things equally so I can concentrate on what feels right in the moment.
By creating a theme for each sprint, I gain an alignment of activities where each one builds on and supports the others. I don’t feel like I am task-switching. Instead, everything I do leads me closer to the finish line.
If you are feeling overwhelmed with all you want to get done, put some of it on hold and create your own sprint. I’d love to hear from you about how it works or any other tips.
Now, go make it happen –
PS - Just a reminder that all of the artwork I feature on my blog is from my talented wife Molly Susan Strong.