As of today, in an effort to "put my money where my mouth is", I have decided to begin an experiment: Using Trello.com to create lists for things like a backlog, a scrum board, and a means of tracking my personal "user stories", I am going to try out managing my own life (and the multitude of things I need to get done) like an agile software project. On Trello, I set myself up with 4 lists on my personal scrum board:
- Backlog: Where I add my personal version of what would be user stories in the software world. Essentially, it's a list of things I need to get done. It might be something as mundane as scheduling an appointment to take the car in for service, or something more elaborate, such as pursuing an educational goal requiring a number of steps to complete. A perfect example of this in my life might be something like going through a course on something like Pluralsight to pick up, or improve upon a skill I find particularly important or valuable.
- To-Do: When I'm ready to take on one of the items in my backlog, I'll drag it over to the next list, my "To-Do" list. This is a short list of items I plan to accomplish soon, but have not started working on yet.
- In Progress: As I start working on one of the items in my To-Do list, I move it over to the "In Progress" list.
- Done: Once items from the "In Progress" list are complete, I move them over to the "Done" list. As the "In Progress" list shrinks, I can bring over new items from the "To-Do" list and get to work on them.
Using Google Calendar for scheduling and reminders, I have set up notifications for myself to go through some backlog grooming on a weekly basis (where I go through the items in my backlog list in order to prioritize them and add detail to make sure they are ready to be worked on once brought over to the To-Do list). I have set myself up with two week iterations, known as "sprints" in the agile world, with reminders coming into my email every two weeks to keep me on track.
Finally, my Google Calendar also reminds me to have a little "retrospective" session with myself at the end of each iteration. The retrospective is where I will reflect over the previous 2 week iteration, and try to take some lessons away from what went well (continue doing these things), and what didn't go so well (stop doing those things). Lastly, I'll be attempting to think of new ideas to try out that might improve the next iteration. In two more weeks time, at my next retrospective, I'll be evaluating those new ideas to see if they are worth continuing on with or not.
So there we go... A simple recipe, which I strongly suspect will be successful... And thanks to the regular retrospective meetings (um... with myself...), I hope to have even greater success as time goes on. Perhaps this will help prevent things I meant to do from slipping through the cracks. Hopefully it will start to reduce issues that surround procrastination. This might be one of the very best things I have ever done for myself, and for my personal organization and effectiveness.