With the popularity and overwhelming success of Agility in both software development and now the business world, people are taking the principles of this management approach and using them in a third way: to make their personal lives more fulfilling.
If you consider yourself a ScrumMaster, or even have ScrumMaster tendencies, it’s time to up your Agile game and apply these five concepts from the Agile office to your personal life. This will help you start to bring flow to the chaos at home, and have a more organized and productive week (or year!).
Start at the top. (If you keep a chore chart, creating a backlog of your to-do items should be easy.) What does your household need to get done? Which items are a top priority? Create a backlog of it all: the laundry needs doing every Monday, groceries on Wednesday nights, you’re in charge of carpool to soccer on Thursdays, and so on and so forth.
Don’t forget big-ticket items, too. Backlogs are incredibly helpful for planning big trips or events. If you’re saving up for a trip to Napa with your girlfriends, mark a line item for the money you need to save, the tickets you need to book, and any confirmations you’ll need to make. Anything you can think of, write it down.
We suggest putting each item on a post-it note. You know where we’re headed next.
2. A Kanban Board
If you have a big monthly calendar you adhere to for all your family’s appointments, you basically already have a rudimentary Kanban board in place. So, why not make it official?
Turn the backlog you just created into a kanban board to track your progress. Simple ‘To-Do,’ ‘In Progress,’ and ‘Done’ columns are easy enough to follow that even your preschooler can keep up. Keep the board somewhere you or your family spends a lot of time, like the kitchen or living room, to help hold yourself accountable to the tasks that need to be accomplished. Or if your family lives and breathes the digital life, create a family Trello board that everyone can get to on their phone, tablet, or computer.
3. Work Sprints
Next, prep for your work sprints. Decide what needs to happen this week, next month, or sometime later this year, and assign your workload accordingly. In addition to helping you tackle all the little chores that need to be finished in a given week, work sprints also provide a great way to think about your big projects.
Consider putting together a work sprint in the fall to get the house winterized, for example. Over the course of one week, you’ll need to rake up the leaves, blow out your sprinkler system, and chop this year’s firewood. (You live in the country in this scenario. City slickers can skip winterizing and pick a different project. But, you get the idea.)
4. Daily Stand-Up
Your Kanban board won’t matter if you don’t check in with your family members with a little good old-fashioned face-to-face communication. Host a daily meeting to cover chore deadlines, check the temperature of your kids’ emotional statuses, and provide compliments to one another on a job well done. These stand-ups should be short enough that little ones can participate without getting bored or distracted, not unlike your sometimes surly coworkers.
The best way to commit to a daily stand-up is by ensuring you share at least one meal as a family every day. Whether it’s breakfast or dinner, sit down together and talk. Learn about the obstacles in one another’s lives, the little everyday victories that might go unnoticed, and keep each other updated on each family member’s responsibilities.
If you live alone, you can skip this step, but we hope you’ll have a sit-down with your dog anyway. he’s got an emotional temperature, too!
Take the time to review your progress and assess what you would like to change going forward. Consider what about your routine is working well and where you need to pivot. Say you keep skipping the grocery run and eating out five nights a week instead. Presumably, you aren’t ordering grilled tofu, brown rice and veggies every night on Seamless, so maybe you need to approach that errand in a new way so you can save money and make healthier decisions in the future.
If your significant other regularly seems run down and burned out during your stand-up, consider why. Are they the “lead” of too many chores and errands? Have you made time for them to do one thing they love every week? Switch up responsibilities and see how it affects your relationship going forward.
Retrospectives lead to continuous improvement. By evaluating your life and how it’s shaped by your responsibilities, you can work toward a more fulfilling and exciting future.
Agile Concepts in the Real World
Whether they are using Agile concepts to keep a prioritized list of household tasks on the fridge or conducting family retrospectives with kids after completing a week of chores, families all over are using Agility to boost their joy.
You can use these concepts to plan a wedding, prep for a cross-continental move, or simply host family meetings. As you’ve seen at work, the Agile manifesto opens the door for endless opportunities for growth and success. In your personal life, too, it can make for a more productive life by clearing the clutter of your brain, reducing stress, and helping you get more out of life in general.
Why not give it a shot today?