Marathons vs. sprints

Is your work always frantic?

Some people chronically race through their work. Everything must be done quickly. Go go go. Sprint!

But not all work lends itself to moving quickly. And you can’t keep sprinting for long.

If you’re working on software, it might make sense to treat the development of a new feature as a sprint. You put in a lot of effort in a short period and you get results quickly. Then you ask people how they like what you created and you iterate.[note]This is one of the keys of agile development.[/note]

But if you’re a lawyer working on a case, you might burn out if you try to sprint through the whole thing. Perhaps you can work with a lot of focus and energy for one day, or two days, or even for a week. I doubt you can give 100% effort for a month, though.

In the same way, you would probably be better off treating the writing of a novel as a marathon. Pace yourself by writing a bit every day and eventually you’ll end up with a novel.[note]This is apparently how the bestselling author Haruki Murakami writes.[/note]

If you sprint for too long, your health will suffer.

Would you be better off treating your next big project as a marathon instead of as a sprint?

Yours,

— Peter

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