30 Day Improvement Sprints may just be your best friend as you start your new year. You can use 30 Day Improvement Sprints to learn new skills, build or change habits, and amplify your impact. They provide a simple way to apply concentrated effort in batch to accelerate your success.
I’ve written about 30 Day Improvement Sprints before in Why 30 Day Improvement Sprints, 30 Day Improvement Sprints, 30 Day Improvement Sprints Revisited, Monthly Improvement Sprints, and Making 30 Day Improvement Sprints More Effective. But with the new year fast approaching, it’s time to rehydrate the power of 30 Day Improvement Sprints for making waves of significant change.
Why 30 Day Improvement Sprints
If you know the story, I started using 30 Day Improvement Sprints years ago to deal with the following challenges:
- I needed a way to really focus.
- I needed a way to make significant change.
- I needed a consistent way to make space for new things in my life.
What better way than to make it a monthly pattern?
In fact, the first thing I learned was that the key was less about 30 days and more about making it a theme for the month. With each new month, I could repeat the theme or add a new one. This idea of Monthly themes lets me pick a focus each month and cycle through multiple things throughout the year.
It’s a simple but effective way to add focus, while allowing for exploration.
Before that, I had the problem of not sticking with something long enough, or having too many open things in flight. By carving out a theme each month, it lets me put ideas in the parking lot to pick up during another 30 Day Improvement Sprint.
There is also magic that happens if you stick with something for more than two weeks and get over your initial humps and feelings of awkwardness as you learn something new or change your habits. The first two weeks are a step back before you leap frog ahead.
What is a 30 Day Improvement Sprint
A 30 Day Improvement Sprint is simply a focus for the month. For example, in January, your focus might be on your fitness or your career or a habit you want to add or a skill you want to learn. Pick something. Maybe it’s a book you’ve wanted to write.
The key is to pick a meaningful theme to give focus and meaning for the month.
Make it a story you want to look back on. Make it a story you want to tell. It’s not whether you actually achieve your results. It will be the progress you make along the way. 30 days is a great way to chip at the stone, and the days add up fast.
To give you an example, I actually created a 30 day program using a 30 Day Improvement Sprint:
To create the program, I decided that each day I would spend no more than 20 minutes and write with might. The goal was to share the best of what I’ve learned around getting results and making impact. I wanted to unleash what everybody is capable of. It also gave me a chance to show the power of a 30 Day Improvement Sprint in action. By the end of the 30 days, I had a powerful program that helped many people hit their high notes and operate at a higher level. Many people told me this was the most powerful program they ever experienced in terms of improving their results at work and in life.
People still tell me they are surprised it’s free. They also can’t believe that I wrote it in 20 minute batches each day for a month. In fact, you’ll notice that as the days went on, the insights got deeper, the words flowed better, the stories got richer, and the power of each day’s lesson got exponential.
This is another benefit of a 30 day focus … you get more than synergy -- you get the compound effect.
How To Do a 30 Day Improvement Sprint
It is extremely simple. That’s the point. The recipe is this:
- Choose a challenge that inspires you.
- Dedicate a small amount of time each day to “work your sprint.”
- Set a simple outcome each week, and review your results each week.
Each day is a new chance to try something small to produce results against your goal. Each day, just try something new, and keep a sharp focus on learning. Between doing + learning, you will have breakthroughs. Because you are not caught up in immediate results, you allow yourself the freedom to explore and get creative. You also are focused because you are doing something small each day. That’s how breakthroughs and innovation happen.
Pick something that will really help you in your work or in life, or both. For example, when I joined my current team, I set a focus for the month: “House in Order.” I made the goal for the month to really simplify and clarify the product portfolio for the group, and to simplify and clarify some of the key processes and priorities. Then, each day, I dedicated a small amount of time to that effort, while I worked my weekly outcomes. And, where I could, I connected my weekly activities and outcomes back to this higher-order goal.
By the end of the month, I had a simple catalog of all the assets for the group, as well as a simple information architecture (IA), and a simple set of processes, and a simple deck to help tell and sell the story of value for the team.
Along the way, I learned a bunch. Most importantly, I continued to flow short-burst wins, while working towards the bigger picture and my 30 Day Improvement Sprint.
Where to Go for More
You can learn more about 30 Day Improvement Sprints (or “Monthly Themes”) from the following sources:
- 30 Days of Getting Results (where each day you will learn a new lesson in achieving results and high-performance)
- Getting Results the Agile Way (my book on how to master time management, motivation, and making things happen)
Many people have been using 30 Day Improvement Sprints (or “Monthly Themes”), so you can learn from them, as well.
I’ve used 30 Day Improvement Sprints for everything from changing diets to starting workouts to learning new technologies and writing books. It’s powerful stuff, and it helps you rise above the noise of day to day, while making the most of each day.
30 Day Improvement Sprints help you carve out space for the big wins in your life each day, while dealing with the day to day of everyday life.
Best wishes on the road ahead.