Jogger vs. Sprinter – in Decluttering and Life


I took a class on Professional Organizing recently, and while much of it seemed like common sense to me, there were a few things that stood out.  One thing in particular was the idea of Jogging versus Sprinting.

In the class the instructor mentioned that some people are Joggers, meaning they are slow and steady in their decluttering.  They will do a little bit of decluttering each day and stick with the project until it’s done.

Other people are Sprinters. They work in short bursts.  That might mean they spend an entire weekend decluttering and then not do any for the remainder of the week.  Then the following weekend they might do another burst of decluttering.  A sprinter gets a lot done in a short period of time, but they may have a harder time finishing the project as a whole if it can’t be completed in a single burst.

I found this concept to be more far reaching than the realm of organizing and decluttering.  It’s more of a life concept and something clicked in me when I heard it discussed.

You see, I’m a Sprinter.  I jump into projects and intensely focus on the project for a short time.  After that time I need a recovery period.  After recovering I’ll make another sprint of activity.

Being a sprinter means that I get a lot done in short periods, but I also have long stretches of rest and recovery.  The rest and recovery is in the form of activities with the family, recreation, watching movies, or vegging on the couch.

On the plus side, a sprinter can get a lot done in a short period of time.  On the downside, the recovery period can hamper overall productivity.

I often find that downside in my own life.  You may notice it in my blog posting schedule.  Some weeks I’ll have three posts and some weeks I’ll have none at all.  That is due to my sprinting nature.

I’m like that at work too.  In my recent performance review, my boss noted that when I’m “on” I perform at a very high level, but when I’m not then my performance lags.  Having the jogging versus sprinting concept fresh in my mind, I was able to explain the reason behind this work style.

The downtime allows me to maintain a balance.  It’s part of what keeps me in a healthy work/life balance.  After a sprint of working I naturally fall into a period of rest.  I took one of these rest periods over the weekend.  My daughter asked if we could buy the game of Monopoly.  It’s a classic game and good for math and money skills, so I agreed.  We played Monopoly that evening and all through the next day.  It was fun father daughter time, and it was the perfect downtime after a stressful week at work.

Back on the topic of sprinting in cleaning and decluttering, I find that I clean in bursts.  Things tend to pile up and then I’ll take care of it all at one time.  I have tried to move into jogger territory with daily cleanups, but find it to be very difficult to maintain.

You might recall that I started a 30 minute cleanup each night.  I started out strong, but have failed to maintain that long term.  The reason it becomes difficult for me to maintain is because some days I’m in the middle of a rest and recovery period, and during that time my productivity suffers.  Productivity in this case being the daily cleanup.

Joggers tend to work at a steady pace.  In decluttering they will do a little each day.  In life they keep a steady pace of work over a long period of time.  The downside being that they may rarely burst to extremely high performance, but the upside being they are consistent.  They can go longer but may burn out after long periods of jogging without adequate rest.

I don’t think either style is better than the other, they are just different.  The importance is in noting your own style so that you can take advantage of it.

As a sprinter, when I’m feeling productive, I know I need to really focus and make the most out of that time. Sprinters are often driven by inspiration, so when inspiration strikes, a sprinter must take action.  I also know that I have a hard time finishing projects if I can’t get it done in a single burst.  That means I have to plan another burst to complete the project or make the effort to push through to complete it in my rest and recovery phase.  Another item of note is that sometimes I have to force myself to jog, like with the daily cleanups.  I need to know that I’m going against my nature in that area, but it’s beneficial even though it causes some short-term internal friction.

Joggers may notice similar things but in a different way.  They tend to focus on certain tasks for a short time every day.  This will get projects done, but short projects may take longer than if they were done in a single burst.  Sometimes a jogger will have to force a sprint in order to meet a deadline.  This is where a jogger may be going against their nature.

I think it’s important to notice if you are a Sprinter or Jogger as it can help you understand how you can best approach a task or project.  In decluttering a sprinter should work in short bursts with some downtime between, while a jogger should declutter a small amount every day.  Understanding how you work best can help you take advantage of your sprinting or jogging nature to make the most of your time.

Are you a Jogger or a Sprinter?  Share your thoughts on how these concepts apply to your life in the comments section.

Photo Credits: jogger, sprinter

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