I know you’re sick of the term “hacking”, but the term carries some significance in this case. If you work in the technology industry or software development, you’ve most likely heard of agile methodology. Traditionally used in software development, Agile is best known for providing faster review cycles, quicker response to changes, better management of uncertainty, and continuous communication. Whether you’ve ran an agile project yourself or have never heard of agile in your life, using the principles of agile is a great way to kick-start your personal goals and stay on track. Agile practises and values can be brought into your everyday life to promote personal success and help manage day-to-day stress.
Our to-do lists aren’t always on a pad of paper; we’ve transferred them over to our phones, computers, smart home devices… you name it. The instinct when you get stressed out is to write a list of everything you need to do, from getting a new doctor, to picking up milk on your way home. Our list seems never ending, which can feel defeating when you can’t knock everything off. By using a Kanban board, your list becomes a prioritized backlog. A Kanban board is a workflow visualization tool that lets you optimize your work by applying statuses like “To Do”, “Doing” and “Done”. It allows you to focus on your items in progress instead of the items that you haven’t started yet. With a Kanban board, you can quickly look at your work in progress, see where you’ve overloaded yourself, and visualize where all of your to-do items are. It’s transparent, easy, and honest.
Be honest with yourself and ask yourself what’s working and what isn’t. Give yourself constant feedback and always be willing to re-evaluate your process. Don’t be afraid to change things up if something isn’t working. If an item has been on your Kanban board for a while and isn’t getting pushed to “done” ask yourself how important this item is and if you need support to push it through your board. Identify the “blockers” in your life that are preventing you from moving certain items. Is it schedule? Waiting for feedback? Too much on the go? Figure out what’s preventing an item from moving forward on your board.
In Agile Software Development, work is broken up into time boxed sprints. It helps give you timelines, and gives you an idea of what your real capacity is (we all imagine we can do so much more than time really allows for). Break your time up into one or two week sprints, and focus on your sprint and what you can get done during that time. For your larger items, have a goal for the end of your sprint. The item may overall take months to complete, but by breaking the work into sections you can stay focused. Sometimes big tasks like finding a contractor to rebuild your home or figuring out how to save for retirement seem so overwhelming it’s hard to know where to start. Break your looming task into sprints, and have a goal for the end of each sprint. When your work is broken into small iterations, it gives you the chance to review what you’ve done, pivot where you need to, and celebrate small successes that will lead to a larger goal achieved.
Whether you’re a team of five or one, it’s important to check in. Daily stand-ups are quick, to the point, and as the name states, people stand for them. A daily stand-up is a status update where members state what they did yesterday, what they are doing today, and if they have any blockers. This is not the time to dig into details, more so a time to check in with your team or yourself. After your sprint, you should also hold yourself a retrospective. A retrospective is held after a sprint, to go over what was successful and what didn’t work. Whatever worked during your sprint should be brought into the next sprint, and whatever didn’t work should be left behind. Even if it’s just over your morning coffee, giving yourself time for a stand-up can keep you on task and keep things top of mind. It will also make you more introspective and mindful, and we could all use a little more of that.