Our lifestyles over the years and decades have become very hectic – we seem to live in an unstoppable stream. Most of us work an average of 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. You have a fixed time for when your work starts, but do you actually start working right then? Do you wake up early enough to dedicate time for personal activities, and breakfast, or do you run out of time and skip it? But, simultaneously, you would like to learn a new language, travel, stay in good shape and read a book you bought a few months ago… Is achieving all these individual goals even possible when you’re so busy?
“Project manager” is not just a job title. It is a role we play in our daily lives… Professionally, we make time to ensure that everything works in the project. Both customers and team are satisfied. Do you manage things so diligently when it comes to your time?
All ideas and goals in your mind can be managed as they are in commercial projects. Gantt charts, boards, Excel sheets, metrics, etc. Nothing is off the table. The more in- formation you have about yourself and your behaviors, the better it will be to plan and execute the tasks.
Let’s analyze what we can transcend from our IT management to personal life.
Stay ready for change
Scrum is a flexible framework to manage work progress by checking its results every day during iterations (which take between 2 to 4 weeks), using communication (ceremonies, demos, retrospectives) to remove all possible impediments. All to make sure that at the end of the sprint, a minimal viable product or increment is delivered. The iterative workout of reporting and noting every task done during the day or week can improve performance, if the information is used right.
So why don’t we use this framework outside of work? The world is changing, and we need to be ready to manage things that we did not see coming. We need to have more of a planning mindset and understand that we live in a time of constant volatility.
How to start
Here are some preparation elements that are best not to skip. Firstly, you need a place to track your actions and progress. It can be a system you know from work, such as Trello or Asana (and which are free to use). It can also be a simple notebook with a pen, oldschool. Put down all the things you aim to accomplish today, tomorrow and in a month or year.
It’s crucial also to mark priority at this stage – you should be able to judge, which tasks and goals are most important. To boost confidence in your upcoming project – fill out basic information on each element of the project. You might be well aware of what you mean now, but once you look at a vague title of a long-term goal, you might wish you had been more specific right then when you wrote it.
Did your list turn out to have too many things to do? Multitasking can be good, but please remember about Kanban’s WIP (Work in Progress) limit rule; focusing on everything around us may decrease work efficiency. It’s better to focus on 1-2 tasks to be fully dedicated to the process. Even if that means you won’t meet all your goals.
Time management – sprint’s using
The second step to be mindful of is time management. Put all the things planned or already in progress in our calendar. That gives a clear view of the timely feasibility of all the endeavors.
All the preliminary steps are done – are you excited to track progress now? What is needed now is a daily routine – like the daily scrum. Ask yourself the usual questions: what have I done yesterday? What will I do today? Do I have blockers that may not allow me to complete some of the planned work? Remember about the reporting mentioned before.
Importance of small steps
After the two weeks of your new, self-monitored routine, you should be able to see your ‘MVP’. At this point, evaluate if you were productive or not. The main objective is to find your strengths/boosters and weaknesses/stoppers and create a plan with action items to improve your processes. With each sprint, you will become more and more flexible and get more acquainted with your capabilities. Small steps will bring much more significant results than you can expect.
How it can help others
Additionally, if we look from a different angle, you can share this solution with your family, life partners, friends, etc. and encourage people in your circle to implement positive changes in their life and habits. If you share a common goal, Scrum will help you be equally efficient, transparent, and involved in the process. You can help manage your family dynamics and make sure you are reaching your joined goals. Do not be afraid to take on the role of a teacher. The added bonus is that other people will acquire the skills and knowledge they need to be more efficient and make their lives better. And you will gain more time together.
Expectations vs. results
Disappointment is when your results or real experience don’t quite meet your expectations. To avoid being disappointed, or overwhelmed for that matter, focus on having a roadmap before you start. Include information on how, why, and what you want to do. It will minimize possible risks of dissatisfaction.
Specifying the goals in our “life project” and especially analyzing possible risks leaves us room for maneuver and allows us to remain flexible – especially since life writes the most unexpected scenarios. And we can take measured to be better prepared for any of them.
SMART planning is the additional key to your personal plans control. By making your goal more specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timed, you ease your way, and remove under- or overestimated expectations. Everything must be clear – this is especially important when we set goals we want to achieve with our loved ones. We must remember that they should be as simply worded and precisely defined as possible. In everyday life, we often use mental shortcuts that our family members or partners may not understand. By clearly communicating and defining goals, we can avoid potential conflicts and make achieving them simpler than before. After all, no one want’s a dinner table fight, right?
Now you have a roadmap with goals; you monitor daily engagement, adjust to changes and evaluate progress. Most importantly, you know what realistic results to look forward to, and you are not scared of or discouraged by disappointment.
Although over the last decades, technology has allowed us to do certain things much faster, and as time went on, it has even taken us out of some processes, new challenges have come our way. We want to take more from life. We want to feel satisfaction from the goals achieved. This is where Scrum comes to our aid, allowing us to complete them step by step.
We all have different lives, and we face various troubles and challenges both at home and at work. Most importantly, we all have the chance to face our challenges. If we map out the process well enough and stay motivated to reach our goals, we will only be stronger. We will bring confidence today and won’t be afraid of facing the unknown tomorrow – whether it’s work or home.
Project Manager with five years of experience in IT and technical support. In addition to the PM role, he also worked as a business analyst and manual QA engineer. Managed 50+ projects (Web, Mobile Applications, AR, VR) from various domains (E-Learning, Fintech, Healthcare, Games, Sports, Machine Learning). He has solid experience managing fixed price, time & material, and dedicated team projects, as well as presales and discovery stage activities. In his spare time, he usually meets his friends and plays basketball, tennis, and golf.