Back in the ’90s, people started to talk about “sustainable pace.” We work to the best of our abilities during the day. We’re done and pleasantly tired at the end of the day. We could maintain this pace for weeks and months at a time. Maybe even years. (The very first agile books and the Agile Manifesto principles discuss sustainable pace.)
In contrast, a burst of energy allows us to complete something. Once we do, we need a break. By definition, sprinting to the finish line is different from what we need as sustainable pace to allow us to get close to the finish line.
I admit that for the first ten or so years of my career, I was all about the sprinting. Now, I think of life as more of a marathon, where I can maintain a pace. I might be able to build to something “more,” and I need to be able to maintain that.
I’ve been planning my writing for next year and I need to think about what my sustainable pace is. I don’t want to sprint to finish projects. I want to keep going at some reasonable pace.
I’ve been framing these questions for my pace as:
- How much writing can I do on a daily, weekly, monthly basis?
- Which kinds of writing do I do when? (I write these personal essays, non-fiction books and articles, and fiction. I am better at writing certain pieces at different times of the day.)
- What else do I want to add and subtract from my work next year? If I add more writing, what will I remove?
How can I start 2019 and continue, on whatever pace I select?
You might not be thinking of writing. You might consider your workouts, your hobbies, or your professional work.
Here’s how I approach my writing sustainable pace:
- Gather some data. Up until this year, I didn’t keep a word count writing log. I now do, divided into the various kinds of writing. Before this year, I only had a count of books, blog posts, articles, etc. Because they are not all the same size, I didn’t have sufficient data. Now I do.
- Look for patterns in my data. I know when I traveled more and when I traveled less. I can see how travel and other work changes my writing output.
- Decide what is most important to me.
You might recognize this as capacity planning for the project portfolio. Or, capacity planning for taking work into a team. My work is a little different from a “normal” team. Even when I’m not pair-writing, other people help me finish my work for final publication.
When we assess what we can—and can not—do, we have a much better shot at finishing what we plan.
I suspect that many of you are thinking about New Year’s resolutions. I don’t do resolutions. Instead of resolutions, think about purposeful plans based on data. You might realize that you can only create a short plan (not more than a month) to obtain some data. That’s great. Start with a sustainable pace for a month and see where you go.
That is the question this week: What is your sustainable pace?
- How Much Grunt Work Do You Have?
- What Makes You Remarkable?