During my first big studio productions, I started thinking about possibilities for improving the team member's and my productivity and an agile way to accomplish and manage the whole projects. Currently, me working mainly in an IT department at a German Internet media startup (for more details visit my LinkedIn profile), I came in contact with a special procedure model for project management called "Scrum". This model basically contains some methods of operation I was using in my project management beginnings. So let me explain the mystery of this article's title - "sprint and rest" ;)
What Is A Sprint?
Scrum basically reduces team sizes and breaks down a project into a bunch of little subgoals, which are reached within short-term working periods (usually 1 or 2 weeks long) called sprints. The innovative model also allows you to constantly evaluate the progress and improve the speed and quality of your work.
“… it’s better to work highly focused for short periods of time, with breaks in between, than to be partially focused for long periods of time. Think of it as a sprint, rather than a marathon. You can push yourself to your limits for short periods of time, so long as you have a clear stopping point. And after a rest, you can sprint again.”
During my bachelor studies, I usually turned off my phone to be fully concentrated with all of my attention for a specific learning period (e.g. 90 to 120 minutes). It was a little bit like a sprint, blocking out all possible distractions to make this focus possible. Working like that puts you in an intense flow of work based on self-set objectives (e.g in the learning environment: "I have to go through chapter x in 90 minutes and elaborate important passages!") and working at your ability limit. After this period, you will take a coffee and eat some fruits to be able to return after a short break to the next intense period. And so on...
In my audio professional environment, I proceed exactly the same for e.g. editing or mixing tracks but mainly focused on the entire week as a sprint. The really important thing is to define exactly what you want to reach before starting the sprint. Then you are ready to start working, using your most productive hours to do your highest-impact work. But do not overdo it! Keep in mind that we all need time where we can fully recover our energy and clear our minds. This leads us to the next topic.
Recover Your Energy And Clear Your Mind!
In the case of an intense work, it is crucial to regain your power by taking your breaks and dissociating yourself from the project. Only in this way, you will be able to return with full power and clear mind to observe all the project-related things from a fresh perspective.
At a regular IT company, it is easy to define the days of rest. Usually, you have your sprint from Monday to Friday. Consequently, your free time takes place on the weekend. During the weekend, you won't check your e-mails, Slack or business phone! Instead, you will spend the time for yourself, your family and friends. There is always time to have fun!
I would say that the weekend is not the most realisable time to have a time off as an audio engineer or music producer. But I am sure that other two days of the week will work as possible break. If you are working in a production team, it is important to clarify and coordinate the free days of each team member. Do not forget to consider them in your project management. ;)
If a project is completely finished, I opine that you (and your team) should plan a longer time-out. After, probably, months of exhausting work, a long vacation (no - two weeks are not enough!) is needed to reset yourself and start fully refreshed a new big project.
When I could catch your interest in this specific topic, I can recommend you two topic-related bestsellers. Both books will help you to explore the concept of Scrum in detail and will show you how to apply it to your personal situation and needs. Have fun and see you next time! :)