I work at a company where we have your typical sprints filled with engineering stories that need to get done. But then we have "work" that is not allocated within the sprint. This "work" is stuff like 20% time, reading and presenting papers, work related to various guilds within the org, and a bunch of other things. These things are less of a priority than the "sprint work" but there is still the expectation that you participate in them. My problem with this is that we have already allocated all of our time to the sprint work and allocated 0 time to these other things so it is not clear how we would be able to have time to do them. Is this normal? Is this a problem?

  • It's normal. sprints are designed for focused get the project done work, so you need to shoe horn in day to day "im working but not on the project" stuff
    – Ewan
    Jun 15 at 20:51
  • I'm not sure what "not on the project stuff" refers to. Can you give an example of that? @Ewan Jun 15 at 20:55
  • 20% time, reading and presenting papers
    – Ewan
    Jun 15 at 23:12
  • "we have already allocated all of our time to the sprint work and allocated 0 time to these other things" - whoever "we" is (you in person, or your superior), they have to learn to allocate time differently, and leave enough room for unplanned activity. Isn't that obvious?
    – Doc Brown
    Jun 16 at 12:32

2 Answers 2


If your organization has an expectation that you participate in non-project work, then you need to account for this time during your Sprint Planning. When evaluating the Product Backlog Items that you are selecting for the Sprint, you should make sure that the team feels that they can accomplish these things in addition to the work outside the project that is expected.

Some teams have had luck making cards for their Sprint Backlog to call out the non-project work that individuals will be doing to make sure that it's visible and accounted for in planning. I'm generally not a fan of this, since it can make the visibility into the project work muddled and less clear. However, if it helps with effective planning, it's something to look into.


The point of only tracking 80% of you work during a sprint is so that 20% doesn’t need to be tracked. Try tracking 100% of everything you do at work. You’ll go nutty.

The law of diminishing returns dictates that you back off and track the work that will significantly benefit from tracking. Typically that’s whatever most impacts the sprint. Don’t bother people with the rest.

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