Moving Into Sprints
As Junio (my month long Spanish study project) nears its close, one takeaway for me is that a month was hard for me to hold complete focus on it. I've continued to reliably do vocabulary flashcards, but my drive to do much more than that (such as listen to Spanish lectures online, etc.) has dwindled as the month progressed. This leads me think that my new plan is to do two week "sprint" projects rather than month-long ones.
Sprint here is less about the speed of the projects, and more as a carryover term from software development. The idea is to have a delineated period of time, where a month is convenient and easier to track.
I can choose to make a project cross over multiple sprints, but in general if they are going to be learning or studying something then I have come to believe a two week dedicated effort period is going to be better rather than going for the full month. Also, I can (and will) take sprints 'off.'
So, for all of June I have been dedicating at least an hour a day to studying Spanish, though most of that time has been flashcard memorization. I will not stop with Spanish after this month, but it will recede to a more casual level of effort until I decide to put a more focused effort in as a sprint. I'm still finalizing my sprint plans, but a few items I have on my list:
- Editing my book - My bad novel from NaNoWriMo still needs more editing and generally trying to make it better, so a 2-week editing sprint is coming up.
- Re-writing my Match Picker - I have my soccer match picker software / website which has needed a rewrite from the ground up. I think a dedicated 2 weeks side project is doable.
- Redesign this blog - The design was purposefully simple as I wrote Glowbug, now though I want to refresh and improve the design.
- Spanish Study - As discussed.
So what does being my sprint focus mean to me? It means that I dedicate an absolutely minimum of an hour a day (usually two hours) to it, and that whenever I have the thought of "What should I do next?" that the sprint is my first answer.
Past changing the timeframe of projects like this, one of my other key takeaways from Junio is that I did not adequately design a rewarding feedback loop. When I wrote my novel in November of last year, I had a Google Sheet which provided me a simple way of tracking progress and between it's graphs and seeing my novel take shape in front of me, I had a very strong feedback and sense of progress.
Memorizing and learning a language doesn't have the same feedback system. I have to make do with seeing my streak of days using Lingvist, my flashcard app of choice. But I don't have a corpus of text, or another way of properly measuring my progress and thus while I know I'm learning more and more words and understanding more and more of the language, I haven't had the tangible proof of it as a motivator.
This learning is key for me as I can try and design these systems as I plan out sprints.
For example, editing my book is fairly straight forward using a lot of the same structure from writing it. Having the body of text in front of me, as well as tracking how many chapters I edit, and word counts, etc. Easy and straight forward.
Rewriting (or just writing) an app or website entails the creation of something in front of me, as well as the use of a to-do tracker, and seeing items checked off and moved, those should be suitable feedback to drive continued progress.
As Junio is definitely not my last language-centric project, it's important I figure out a good feedback solution for learning language. I have some time before I plan to put the next Spanish sprint on the docket, we'll see what I come up with.
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