3 min read

Limited duration sprints are fine. Here’s how to not make that the norm.

It’s hard to stop sprinting once your start. Here’s how.
Limited duration sprints are fine. Here’s how to not make that the norm.
Photo by Ali Kazal / Unsplash

Sustain issue #98 (Get Sustain in your inbox next Thursday)

I’m tired.

Between layoffs, a reorg, a promotion in title only, a return-to-office announcement, and putting on our first X4 Summit next week since 2019 work is feeling a little unhinged right now. It probably explains why I got sick last week.

I know I’m not alone.

Our burnout right now is higher than at any point during the pandemic. That’s crazy.

Future Forum data in Bloomberg

Think about that for a second. All that we’ve been through in the last three years and this, as we get back to normal, is the peak moment of burnout. What an indictment of 2019 normal 🫠

With our event next week, this makes now one of my sprint periods for the year so I’m going to feel a bit overloaded on top of the macro workplace forces at play.

While I’m fully team going at a sustainable pace, I also know there are going to be 2-3 sprint periods every year ahead of a big project, like putting on a 10,000-person event. For a known and short burst, I’m ok working at a pace that’s not sustainable for the long run 🏃

I’m fine with sprint bursts for two reasons:

  1. At the end of sprint burst, the pace will return to one that’s sustainable.
  2. It’s a bad look for your career if your entire department or company is working in a sprint burst and you’re like nope, I’m good.  

It does take a proactive strategy to ensure that your sprint burst doesn't just turn into the norm without you even realizing it. Otherwise you're cooked.

Here’s your game plan to get back to a sustainable pace  

Map out your sprint periods. I can anticipate that my sprint periods for this year are late February (now!), late August, and late October based on the way my marketing project calendar is. Plan for three weeks at sprint speed max. That’s all we can handle. If you feel yourself sprinting outside of those time periods it’s a good time for a self-check-in.  

Create your sprinting norms. When you’re in your sprint period, your goals as a defense mechanism are as important as ever. Sprint in support of that singular goal and hold off on the other stuff until your sustainable pace returns. Just because you’re sprinting doesn't mean rest goes away, either. Make sure you're still taking time for rest when you’re more meeting heavy or when work carries into hours you’re usually logged off.

Take time for recovery. Just like when actually sprinting, your body needs time to recover before hitting the track again. Ideally, your boss/company give you recovery days after a big sprint burst. (My team is being given the full week off after our event in this sprint period 🙌) Planning your PTO strategically around your sprint periods is also a helpful strategy for recovery.

Just because you can go at a sprint burst doesn’t mean you always should. You mentally and physically can’t. Your mental health will suffer and so will your work. You don't want that and your boss doesn't want that.

A sustainable pace as the norm is a win-win for all sides 🐢

Ready to downsize your relationship with work and quit burnout?

Hi, I'm Grant Gurewitz. I'm on a mission to eliminate burnout at work. I've been in tech for 10 years (ex-Zillow, current: Qualtrics) and suffered deep burnout and came back from it even though I never found a playbook for doing so. So, I'm writing it myself.

🗄️ See the past issues of Sustain