When you hear the word ‘sprint’, the first thing that pops into your mind is likely fitness and working out. However, professionals worldwide also use the word sprint to describe a type of time-blocking technique.
In this article, we’ll be covering:
- What is a sprint?
- How to use sprints in the workplace
- How to use sprints at home
- Common pitfalls to avoid when using sprints
- Tips and tricks for using sprints to boost productivity
- Alternatives to using sprints at work
Let’s dive in!
What is a sprint?
Have you ever heard of time-blocking? It’s a strategy where you set a certain amount of time for a task, and then work on that task until the allotted time is up. The goal is to minimize distractions and maximize focus so that you can get the task done more efficiently.
Sprinting is a high-intensity type of time-blocking. When you sprint, you set aside a short amount of time (usually between 30 minutes to an hour), and you work on only the task you decided that you would work on.
Whereas in time-blocking people often take breaks or get side-tracked, the goal of sprinting is to divert 100% of your attention to the task at hand.
Once the sprint is over, that is when you take a break. Often, sprinters will step away from work entirely for a time, allowing their mind to decompress before they get back to work.
This method is highly effective for many people, as it incentivizes you to actually work as you race the clock to get as much done as you can in that set amount of time.
People with executive dysfunction disorders and ADHD often report great amounts of success with sprinting, so if you often struggle with perfectionist or procrastination tendencies, this may be the technique that revolutionizes the way you work!
How to use sprints in the workplace
If you’re finding that your workdays are dragging on and you’re struggling to focus, implementing sprints could be a great way to increase your productivity. To do a sprint, simply set a timer for a certain amount of time (anywhere from 10 – 60 minutes) and work on one task until the timer goes off. Once the timer goes off, take a short break (5 – 10 minutes) before starting your next sprint.
Sprints are a great way to minimize distractions and maximize focus, as you’re only working on one task at a time and you know that you only have a limited amount of time to complete it. This can help you to avoid getting bogged down in the details or losing focus on what’s important.
Some examples of things you can use sprints for in the workplace:
- Writing reports
- Answering emails
- Completing work calls
Benefits of sprints
Sprints can be an incredibly effective way to boost productivity, as they force you to focus and work more efficiently. In addition, sprints can help to break up the monotony of the workday and make it feel more manageable.
If you’re struggling with motivation, setting a timer for a short burst of work can often be enough to get you started.
Sprints are also a great way to measure your progress and see how much you can accomplish in a set amount of time. This can be motivating in itself, as you realize that you are capable of completing a lot more than you thought!
How to use sprints at home
Sprints can also be helpful around the house. Many people who struggle with chronic disorganization find that sprints are a great way to get things done.
If you have a specific task that you’ve been procrastinating on, set a timer for 15 minutes and see how much progress you can make. You may be surprised at how much you can accomplish in such a short amount of time when you’re working against the clock.
Benefits of sprints at home
Like sprinting in the workplace, sprinting at home can help you up your productivity and leave you feeling more accomplished and more energized, knowing that you’ve gotten things done in a short amount of time.
Setting a timer and devoting 100% of your focus to any task can also make time pass faster. If you hate doing laundry or doing the dishes, then setting a timer and racing the clock to see how much you can accomplish in a certain amount of time can take some of the pain out of the task by making it feel more like a game.
Sometimes it’s easier to get work done when we treat ourselves like a little kid, promising ourselves a treat if we get a certain amount of work done within the sprint.
Common pitfalls to avoid when using sprints
Now that we know how to use sprints, let’s look at some common pitfalls people make when using this time-blocking technique:
Trying to accomplish too much in one sprint
When you’re creating your to-do list for the sprint, be realistic about what you can achieve in the time allotted. Trying to do too much will only lead to frustration and a sense of failure.
Not taking breaks
It’s important to remember that sprints are a form of intermittent fasting for your attention. Just as you wouldn’t try to go without food for an entire day, you shouldn’t try to go without breaks when you’re sprinting. Get up and walk around for a few minutes every hour or so to keep your energy levels up.
Not planning for distractions
Distractions are inevitable, but that doesn’t mean you can’t plan for them. When you’re creating your to-do list, think about what might distract you and build in some time to deal with those distractions.
Failing to sprint regularly
Like any other habit, sprinting takes practice to get good at it. If you only use sprints occasionally, you’re not going to see the full benefits. Make sprinting a regular part of your work routine and you’ll start seeing results.
Sprinting without a goal
What’s the point of sprinting if you don’t have a goal in mind? Before you start your timer, know what you want to accomplish. This will help you stay focused and on track.
Not tracking your progress
How do you know if sprinting is working for you if you don’t keep track of your progress? At the end of each sprint, take a few minutes to jot down what you accomplished. This will help you see your progress over time and make necessary adjustments to your sprinting technique.
Not being flexible
Life happens and sometimes you have to be flexible with your sprints. If something comes up that you can’t control, don’t beat yourself up about it. Just pick up where you left off and continue sprinting.
Rushing through your work
Just because you’re on a timer doesn’t mean you should race through your work. Work at a pace that’s comfortable for you and make sure you’re taking breaks when you need them.
Not being prepared
If you want to make the most of your sprint, you have to be prepared. That means having everything you need before you start sprinting. Otherwise, you’ll waste valuable time looking for things instead of working.
Not staying focused
One of the biggest benefits of sprinting is that it helps you stay focused. But if you’re not careful, it’s easy to let your mind wander. If you find yourself losing focus, take a break and come back to it later.
Tips and tricks for using sprints to boost productivity
If you’re looking for a way to boost your productivity, sprints may be the answer. This type of time-blocking technique can help you get more done in less time by focusing your efforts and energy on one task at a time. Here are 10 tips and tricks for using sprints to boost your productivity:
Set a goal for each sprint
What do you want to accomplish in the next 60 minutes? Having a specific goal in mind will help you stay focused and on track.
Make a plan
Once you know what your goal is, make a plan for how you’re going to achieve it. What steps do you need to take? What resources do you need? Having a clear plan will help you execute your sprint more effectively.
Set a timer and start working
Once you have your goal and plan in place, it’s time to start working. Set a timer for 60 minutes and start working on your task. Try to work uninterrupted for the entire time so you can really focus and get things done.
Take breaks as needed
If you find yourself getting fatigued or struggling to focus, take a break. Get up and walk around, have a snack, or do something else to rejuvenate yourself. Just make sure you don’t take too long of a break or you’ll lose momentum.
Celebrate your accomplishment
When the timer goes off, take a minute to celebrate your accomplishments. What did you achieve in the last hour? This will help you stay motivated and focused for future sprints.
Adjust as needed
If you didn’t quite reach your goal, don’t be discouraged. Evaluate what went well and what could have gone better so you can make adjustments for next time.
Repeat as necessary
Once you’ve completed one sprint, you can start another one right away or take a break. If you’re feeling good and want to keep going, sprint again. You can do as many sprints as you want, for as long as you want.
Modify as needed
There’s no set way to do sprints, so feel free to modify the process to fit your needs. Maybe you want to work for 90 minutes instead of 60, or take longer breaks in between sprints. It’s up to you.
Get help if needed
If you’re struggling to focus or stay on track, there’s no shame in getting some help. Talk to a friend or colleague, or hire a coach or productivity consultant.
Don’t forget that sprints are supposed to be fun and helpful, not stressful. If you’re finding yourself getting too stressed out, take a step back and reassess your goals and plan. Make sure you’re not putting too much pressure on yourself and enjoy the process.
Alternatives to using sprints at work
There are a number of different time-blocking techniques that you can use at work in order to boost your productivity. However, some people find that sprints work best for them. If you’re not sure whether or not sprints are right for you, consider trying out some of the following alternatives:
The Pomodoro Technique
Here’s how it works: you break down your work into 25-minute intervals (called “Pomodoros”), with 5-minute breaks in between each one.
For every Pomodoro you complete, you mark it off on a sheet of paper or in a digital app. Once you’ve completed four Pomodoros, you take a longer break (15–20 minutes) before starting the cycle again.
The Eisenhower Matrix
To use the Eisenhower Matrix, you simply draw a quadrant with four boxes and label them as follows:
- Quadrant 1: Urgent and Important
- Quadrant 2: Important, but Not Urgent
- Quadrant 3: Urgent, but Not Important
- Quadrant 4: Not Urgent and Not Important
Then, you take all of the tasks on your to-do list and put them into one of the four quadrants. Once you’ve done that, you know what you need to focus on first.
The Pareto Principle
The Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. In other words, you can get 80% of the results you want by only focusing on 20% of your efforts.
This principle can be applied to time management by identifying the 20% of your tasks that are giving you 80% of the results and then focusing on those tasks to the exclusion of all others.
Sprinting is an excellent way to increase productivity. Breaking down a task into manageable chunks and setting a timer allows you to stay focused and get more done in a short amount of time.
While sprinting may not be for everyone, it is definitely worth trying out to see if it works for you. If you find that sprinting isn’t right for you, there are a number of other time-blocking techniques that you can use to boost your productivity.