3 day sprints

In my endless list of productivity and time management experiments, this is the latest: 3 day sprints.

The title sums up what it is pretty well; which is I work in sprints that are 3 days long.

The why part is explained below.

Consistency and Intensity

I found myself shuffling work between 2 kinds of work styles:

  • Work that requires Consistency

These include work that needs to be done over a long period, day in day out, to get any visible results. These are my long-term goals, or much simply put they constitute my current habits. For example gym, coding, reading, writing, journaling, morning/night rituals.

The goals under this category follow a general direction where I want myself to be. For example, I want to get better at journaling is a general goal.

  • Work that requires Intensity

These include tasks that have a deadline and need to be done immediately. For example Office work, reading challenge progress, writing/reading about a particular topic of interest.

The work under this category is very specific, about what, where and when to do something. For example, I want to journal about my improvements and notes in the morning for half an hour for a week is a very specific goal.

What I realised was that work that required intensity was getting ticked off pretty fast but the consistency work was either making slow progress or required a lot of willpower to be completed.

So I decided to shift all the work to intensity mode, which has two benefits. One, things get done pretty quickly. Second, things are kept very interesting.

For example:

  • Going to the gym is a consistent effort goal, but doing compound and maxing out power workouts for 3 days becomes the intensive goal.
  • Reading a lot of books is a consistent effort goal, but reading two small books on psychology I’m pretty pumped about in a week becomes the current intensive goal.
  • Writing code is the long-term goal, working on only one app and trying to complete it in three days becomes the focused goal.

So the undertone is still consistent effort, the general direction, but the execution is in intensity, the specific direction.

Why 3-day sprints work

These three days prints are great because they force you to work better. When you have fewer hours and days to accomplish something, you spend them a little wiser. It’s just Parkinson’s law put into practice.

Parkinson’s law: Work will expand to fill the time allotted for its completion.

So if I’m allowing only 3 days for something to be done, I notice that I’m spending those three days much better than when I know I have a lot of time to complete some work.

One important thing to note here is I’m not just planning my work into these three days sprints, but I’m also scheduling my entertainment and downtime into these sprints. One such goal I set was, along with the ambitious examples above, to watch five movies in three days.

The ideas that give these sprints power are:

  1. There is a deadline to everything - even entertainment, a deadline which is not too short and not too long.
  2. And having a nice little feeling of accomplishment and confidence of how much can be done in just three days.