If you have a pile of to-dos that are sitting, waiting, all with expired due dates and no prioritization . . .
. . . just stick with me.
Step 1. Create three columns
Backlog, Sprint Backlog, Done.
The Backlog is the space for you to drop undefined, kinda vague tasks that don’t really have a clear start or finish in your mind. It’s the place for “someday maybe” tasks, and other ideas for things you should do. This list doesn’t have to be prioritized and it doesn’t have to have due dates on tasks.
The Sprint Backlog is the space for your working to-do list. You should keep it to only a list of things you can accomplish in 1 or 2 weeks. This list should be prioritized and you should have an idea of how “heavy” the task is. Since humans are notoriously bad at guessing how much time things will take, I’ve used point systems and T-Shirt sizes (S, M, L, XL) to gauge task “weight.”
The Done space is for, you guessed it, stuff you’ve done. By keeping track of this list, you can see how many tasks (or points) you’ve accomplished in the sprint period. This will give you an idea of how much you can reasonably get done from sprint to sprint. The obvious benefit of this is that by consistently predicting a feasible workload for yourself, you won’t be disappointed or surprised when if you don’t get some massive amount of stuff done.
Together, these three columns create what’s known in Agile Management as the Scrum Board.
Step 2. Prioritize the Sprint Backlog
Use the Eisenhower Decision Matrix if you’re having trouble with this step.
Step 3. Delete stuff
Everything on that list should be fighting for it’s life to stay there. Your time and attention are the most valuable assets you own. Don’t overload yourself with tasks that don’t matter!
When you don’t trust your to-do list to be true or accurate, you stop trusting the one tool that will help you see your priorities clearly. Your most important tool will become less and less useful.
When you don’t trust your to-do list, you don’t get as much done. When you don’t get as much done, you stop trusting your abilities.
And if you lose trust in your abilities, it’s going to take you a lot of small wins to get your mojo back.
2 Minute Action
You probably can’t do all three steps above in 2 minutes, but I bet you can do one of 2 things:
- Delete stuff that doesn’t matter. Each task should fight for it’s life.
- Schedule 30 minutes on your calendar to run through steps 1-3 today.
It’s your life. It’s up to you how you spend it.
You can keep doing what you’ve always done, or you can get serious about your output.
It’s your day.