In case you’re not familiar with this concept, a Sprint is used in Agile project management in the Scrum method.
A Scrum is a regular and repeatable work cycle and these cycles are known as Sprints. They are more traditionally implemented within teams to keep everyone moving towards the same end result. However Sprints also fit beautifully into the simple Kanban board style of working (think Trello) for entrepreneurs or solopreneurs to focus over a short period of time to reach a specific large goal, or a cluster of smaller goals. Sprint durations usually range between 2-6 weeks.
I have tried many planning styles and time blocks throughout my time in business to work on my business goals. A year, 90 days, 45 days, 30 days, 6 weeks, any combination of those! And I have had some success with all of them, but the time block that makes the most sense for me is 6 weeks. This is long enough that I can work on and achieve some sizeable goals around running a business and all that requires, but short enough that it motivates me to get it done and I am not able to put things off for another day or start procrastinating and faffing around! I came back to this recently and I had forgotten just how much sense it made!
Curious? Let’s get started!
How to plan a successful sprint
Decide what you’re going to work on. Is this something in your big picture plan, a new service or product perhaps, or do you just need to get back on track with things you have let slip, blogging, social media, your newsletters for example? Sometimes having a foundational Sprint to get you in the right place can be just as important as actually achieving one of your Big Goals.
Map what’s required to achieve point 1 above. Breakdown what you need to do. Are you completing the first phase of a goal or the whole goal? If you’re getting back on track with your blogs or social media, how much time is the planning, writing and posting going to take you and how often are you going to do it?
When you have done point 3, you’ll be able to work out how long your sprint is going to be? Be realistic here. You’ll know how much time you can carve out to work on this, and you must keep it realistic and achievable, even if you need to add a week to your overall Sprint. Seeing measurable progress is so important in a Sprint, you must keep moving and keep momentum!
Plan. Now’s the time to set up your sprint in your project management system. Using the Kanban style works brilliantly here and many market leading platforms have this function for projects. If you’re new to Kanban or Sprints and just want to get started, then set up a free Trello account and have a play. Break you project down into tasks and put all this on the board.
Block your Sprint time. Block out non-negotiable time to work on your sprint tasks. Ideally this should be some time every day, but I know first hand that isn’t always possible. The most important thing here is to remember that you have a set number of weeks to achieve this so you need to plan accordingly. Like a military operation to get it done, and stick to it!
The sprint concept is all about focused work, and often in Sprints I am going full out on what I’m set to achieve. I take it really seriously too! It does add a lot to my days throughout the Sprint, but I know from the planning I have done that it’s full on but realistic. That’s the most important thing.
I love seeing my progress through a Sprint and the Kanban style gives such a great overview of moving tasks from to-do, in-progress and done. It definitely keeps the motivation up!
So, on to the next?
Achieving a Sprint goal or goals is brilliant, and can be very inspiring to get straight on to the next. But a real joy I have learnt from my Mastermind is that we should be having a break between our plan or sprint to recharge. I’ve been there, you just feel like you can keep going on to the next thing you want to do, but it makes such a different if you take a break. You may not even have anything else lined up for a while and that’s fine.
Every business and business owner is different, and this is the beauty of sprints and plans like this, you do you. You work in a way that fits your style, and you still make big progress.
So I am giving you permission to play, try, test and tweak and find a planning cycle that works for you and then go and smash those goals!