In mid-2021, I posted about my productivity tracking systems over the years. How I evolved from setting vague and directionless New Year’s Resolutions to obsessively tracking all my projects and their progress in bi-weekly Agile sprints like a good little programmer mule. I predicted that the Sprints system would fail within another year or so, based on my track record with my productivity tracking systems. So, was I right?
Yes. I was.
Looking back on that post, it’s clear to me in retrospect that I was setting myself up for a Sprint system implosion. I complained about it turning my life into an endless grind and being overwhelming. Sure, I had results… for the first year and a half. I had results after that, too, but by then it always felt more like a slog than like any progress in any discernible direction.
I started my “Sprintlog Tasklog” spreadsheet + kanban board in July 2019. I kept it filled consistently until mid-December 2021, at which point I gave myself a few weeks off. “Holiday sprint. No goals,” my note for those weeks says. But just like I never recovered from my Thanksgiving break in writing my first novel in middle school, two weeks off quickly turned into two months off, and the momentum never returned.
I did try to reboot the sprint train a few months later, but I did so with colossally dumb timing—right before my first extended real-life vacation in years, and my first vacation with my partner’s entire family. Any hope I had of those sprintly embers catching fire was doused by another few weeks underwater. Except, like, in a fun way underwater. Like in a pool or something.
So that’s how the Sprintlog Tasklog ended for real. Not with a bang, but with a cartoonish sequence of it running off a cliff and taking a few seconds to notice before gravity chimed in with a respectfully curt body slam.
So, what am I doing these days? Is there a fourth “era” of productivity tracking that I’m now clinging to? Somewhat, but not really.
In September 2022 I attempted to reboot my Sprintlog Tasklog one more time, with a focus on all my “fun” projects instead of my “serious” projects. AKA: a kanban board with a list of the casual Magic: the Gathering and Pokémon TCG decks I wanted to plan out, instead of the stories/novels I wanted to write and publish, essentially. And you know what’s a good way to stop a project from being “fun”? Systematically processing it, scheduling it, and turning it into a series of semi-professional to-do list checkmarks.
So that didn’t work out, lmao.
Last month I resurrected my system from the first era, the “Accomplishments 20XX.docx” file—except without the baggage of the word “accomplishments.” Now, it’s just a Google Doc named “Daily Doings 2023” in which I try to list the main things I do every day, without worrying about how “important” they are.
I kept that up for a whole month… and then I moved, and my life has been a constant whirlwind since then as I try to unpack and settle in and get acquainted with the new area, among lots of other little things that have been vying for my attention. Three weeks later, and I finally had the time plus brain-space to spare to write this, my promised February blog post.
One thing is clear, though: I want to give myself goals again. Whether monthly or weekly, I don’t know. But whatever the time frame, I won’t be making it as rigorous as the sprint system ever again.