Agile Practices for Normal Life – An Introduction

As software makers, certain agile practices are second nature to us. We’re so wrapped up in our own tech bubble that sometimes it’s easy to forget our jargon and processes are not well understood or “normal” for the masses.

I was reminded of this when my partner interrupted a work story to ask, “What the heck is a story point? And why is your customer so obsessed with velocity? What does that even mean?”

I started explaining why we estimate stories and how velocity helps us understand how much work we can complete in a given amount of time. I also mentioned how sprint planning builds a plan and establishes boundaries. And then it hit me: Why am I not using the same agile practices to organize my life outside of work?

So here begins my experiment: Agile Practices for Normal Life.

A Bit of Background

As a self-proclaimed Doer, I always have a larger to-do list than the time available to get it all done. I’m also not so great at avoiding scope creep in my normal life. That means my to-do list grows and grows, while my availability to complete the tasks shrinks and shrinks.

As a human with perfectionistic tendencies, an ever-growing to-do list is not the greatest thing for my mental state. I start to feel guilty about the list. Thoughts like, “I’m not doing enough” and, “I need to work harder” creep in. I start to feel frazzled and rushed. And of course, it can be difficult to make intelligent choices about prioritization when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

For these reasons, my “normal” life might benefit from some agile organization and process.

Experiment Overview

I don’t have an ironclad plan for how this will all work out. I also don’t have a large initiative, like a home remodel, that I am focusing on. What I do have is a hodgepodge of tasks that need to get done.

It’s like I have an existing product built on an outdated foundation. I need to take inventory of what’s there, create a plan to resolve the issues, prioritize the work, and then execute it.

Just as in any agile project, things I learn along the way might cause me to pivot and add a step or exercise into the process.

Up Next

Next, I will craft a project kickoff agenda and run through it to get the ball rolling on Agile Practices for Normal Life. I’ll share artifacts from the kickoff, as well as insights on what went well (or didn’t). I’ll also include my prompt for the next stage of the Agile Practices for Normal Life experiment.