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How to use timed sprints to get important work done

I have ambitious goals and too many things I could spend my time with instead of working towards my important goals. These alternatives might come in the form of not so important yet urgent tasks or completely unimportant yet attractive districations. This post will explain how I use timed sprint to get work important to me done.

Assuming that I do know on which project, in my case an upcoming exam, is my top priority, I first have to be clear about what I want to do. In my case of studying for the exam, I want to write a summary. Not sure about your priorities, you might find the Eisenhower Matrix a helpful tool to decide on them.

And then comes the hard work: start to write that summary.

Set a timer for the sprint

To make that easier, I decide on the length of my first sprint – 15 minutes. So I tell myself, all I have to do is to work on that summary for 15 minutes. No distraction at all, just concentrated work. I close my email, my browser and turn on the flight mode on my phone. This way, I will not get interrupted during that sprint and after 15 minutes of work, I can do whatever I like. That’s the deal. So I set the timer on my phone for 15 minutes and I get to work.

Once the sprint is over, it’s time to take a quick break. Obviously those sprints can be longer – I have found my ideal to be 45 minutes. That’s about the length I can fully concentrate on difficult work before I need a short break. I would recommend to start with 15 minutes and then gradually build up until you find your optimum. If you find it hard to even do the very first spring, then set yourself a shorter timer. It’s not about what someonelse does but only about finding out what works for you.

And last but not least – celebrate in some form when you manage to actually act, meaning work, on your priorities and goals.

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