(1) an act or short spell of running at full speed
(2) (especially in software development) a set period of time during which specific tasks must be completed
In professional settings, the work sprint is a component of a larger framework known as SCRUM, a process formulated in the 1990s through which software development teams are able to complete complex projects with dazzling efficiency.
You can find plenty about SCRUM on the Internet and in books, but I want to focus on just one element of SCRUM – the sprint. The sprint is a powerful, procrastination-busting tool for getting things done, and you don’t have to be in Silicon Valley to use it.
Do you have a task or project you can’t quite seem to get to – either because you can’t find time, or, more likely, you don’t want to do it so you put it off? If you said no, I don’t believe you. We all have them. And there is a magic way to get them done: sprint.
Here’s how it works:
- Set your sprint goal. Define what you need to accomplish and estimate how long it will take you to complete, assuming you had a block of uninterrupted time (which you will!).
- Find a partner. You can have multiple sprint partners, but you need at least one. The partners do not have to be working on the same project as you; they don’t even need to be in the same industry as you. They only need to have their own project or task they need to complete.
- Set a start and end time. This is the time you will dedicate to the sprint and you will do nothing else but work on the sprint goal during this time. It should be based on your estimated time to complete your sprint goal plus time for checking in and out with your partners. If you’re not sure, I recommend starting with 90 minutes. That’s enough time to get your mind shifted away from distractions but not so much that you risk stressing out about neglecting other things.
- Check in with your partners. At the start of the sprint all partners should come together (easy to do by Zoom!) and give each other a brief description of your sprint goal – the task each intends to complete during the sprint. You’re making a commitment to each other to dedicate this time to the sprint. This part should take less than 10 minutes total.
- Now you sprint. Go like gangbusters on that sprint goal until the sprint session is over.
- Check back in with your partners. At the agreed upon end time, regroup with your partners and report back to each other on your success. It’s the accountability that makes the sprint powerful.
It may take some time to get good at sizing your sprints. At first you may not complete the full task during the sprint, but you will find you have made such significant progress that completing the task no longer feels oppressive and you’ll get it done with ease.
OK, so now who wants to try it? Please vote here if you would be interested in trying a facilitated sprint with other CapeSpace members.