I was at a client recently and one VP was convinced that Agile was “untrue” and there was no way it could possibly work. The problem was that he had never heard of backlog grooming or getting stories ready. Once he saw the infographic below, the penny finally dropped and he understood how this crazy thing called Scrum can possibly work with user stories.Read More
Alternate Title: Organize and prioritize your personal projects.
I keep my life sane use David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) together with the Pomodoro Technique. GTD is great for managing the little stuff (like email) and Pomodoro is great for managing and prioritizing projects.
I use Index Cards for managing the Pomodoro Technique
For each activity, I use index cards (like story cards). The one in the photo has a title and two boxes – each represents a pomodoro which represents 25 minutes of uninterrupted work. In the example on the left, I am estimated that writing the blog post will take about an hour (two pomodoros).
You may be wondering what those blue and green squiggles are. Like on Agile projects, I annotate cards with themes to help with organizing them visually. On the left you can see the legend for my personal backlog. It ranges from Blue Sky (future oriented) work on my Agile Coaching Company to foundational work that has to get done or will improve my productivity.
I plan based on importance, urgency and balance
When I plan each day, I like to see some balance between themes to make sure I am looking after all my interests. Themes are an easy way to organize my backlog.
What about prioritization? Thanks to Gino Marckx for designing the Quadrants of Effectiveness Game, I use Stephen Covey’s quadrants and the Eisenhower method of prioritization. All you need to do is to scatter your cards according to Importance and Urgency. See photo below.
There is one pile of cards under CSC (hence the big box and the elastic band – like an epic). How did this work out for me? It was a good way to get started when I felt like I had too many choices. So, the next time you feel overwhelmed, perhaps, you may think of this post and take a step back to organize and prioritize your work.
What’s this business about 11?
I am using this to indicate that this is an add-on to get extra mileage out of the Pomodoro Technique. See cultural reference for details on where this comes from.
This is where I come clean on where I slack on Pomodoro Technique. I do allow interruptions since they usually have high value. I also don’t track them either. I have done so in the past, however, I don’t find it particularly critical for me. So there. So maybe my knob only goes to 1.1 … 🙂
A bunch of the folks I am working with now have started to use the Pomodoro Technique. This is really cool and a great way to boost productivity.
One of the challenges is people interrupting because they don’t know someone’s in a Pomodoro. So, one compensation (not a solution, just a mitigating technique) is to use … Desk Flags.
- Flag up = “I’m concentrating – do not disturb.”
- Flag down = “It’s cool to talk to me.”
Here you can see two people working, the closer person has a flag up.
The flags were ordered from DeskFlags.com and they sell this cool 360 degree “click-it” (red and white object in the photos below) that allows one to easily swivel the flags around.
This is how they are mounted.
As I mentioned before, this is a compensation for when people are working solo. An even better compensation is pairing, but that another story…