Use sprints to move faster

By Jim LaDoux
How would your day change if you scheduled your day around short bursts of focused energy?  

What if you set aside 5 minutes to:

  • Review track your weight, brew coffee and list your top 3 goals?
  • Listen to your voice mail and/or read your text messages?
  • Rebound, walk or row to increase your energy?
  • Review your monthly and yearly goals?
  • Send an email to a friend or family member?
  • Review your bank transactions and/or a pay a bill?
  • Set out clothing and items needed for the next day?
  • Sort and reformat your online photos?
  • Read and briefly reflect on today's Daily Text?
  • Place an affirming note in your son's lunch bag?
  • Create a Facebook or Instagram post?

What if you set aside 15 minutes to:

  • Sort all emails in your inbox?
  • Walk on a treadmill or use your rowing machine?
  • Read a chapter in a book?
  • Write in your gratitude journal?
  • Record a 3-minute Youtube video clip?

What if you set aside 30 minutes to:

  • Write a blog posting?
  • Coach a colleague on their next steps in ministry?
  • Watch an 30 minute lecture from The Great Courses?
  • Remove unneeded items from a bedroom closet?

Apply "sprinter tasks" to all projects

You can apply sprints to anything you want to accomplish. I’ve had days where I planned to exercise but was just not feeling it. But now I commit to at least five minutes. Same with meditating, or even completing tasks I often don’t want to do — answering emails, grading papers, and so on. Five minute tasks often lead to 15 - 30 minute activities.

Three reasons why sprinter tasks work

  1. They're concrete, action-orieinted, and specific: Research shows that the more distinct the habit we’re trying to create, the more likely we are to stick to it. For example, “I will walk for five minutes every morning right after I brew my coffee” is better than “I will get more exercise.”
  2. They'll realistic and easy to fulfill: It's hard to view a five-minute commitment as overwhelming. Small, easy-to-hit goals is a results in people reaching their larger ones. Once we start a 5 minute task, we usually work beyond the five minutes. They often become 15-minute and 30-minute sprints.
  3. Achieving short-term wins builds enthusiasm toward taking the next steps. People like to feel like they're moving forward. They like to mark and celebrate progress. There's some exhilerating about observing the wins and milestones that took place throughout the day.  

Give it a try. Take 5 minutes to find out if it works for you!


  1.   Which sprinter tasks are already embedded into your life?
  2.   Which tasks would you like to "try on" in the future?
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