The First Thing To Do When You’re Disorganized

You’ve got more emails.

The phone is ringing.

Your boss walks in and tells you about 3 things you need to do.

. . .

Does any of this sound or feel familiar?

This is one of those classic cases of “fire of the day” management style.

When I’ve brought the Agile framework into a new team, the first thing that we do to help alleviate this is 2 fold:

  1. We discuss the Eisenhower Decision Matrix
  2. We put up a Scrum Board.

The Eisenhower Decision Matrix helps the team prioritize/triage the tasks coming in. It helps them respond and focus on the important stuff instead of trying to react to every loud, shiny alarm bell.

Here’s a picture I’ve used before that is easy to follow. Photo credit goes to

The Scrum board puts tasks into three categories: To-Do, Doing, Done.

“To-Do” (later we’ll call it the Backlog) is the place for tasks that we know we need to get done eventually and they might not be super clear or well defined yet.

“Doing” (later called the Sprint Backlog) is ONLY for the tasks that we know we need to get done in the next week or two. In order for a task to be ready for the sprint, it needs to be prioritized, have a task owner, and it needs to be defined enough that someone can “check the box” and say it’s done.

The “Done” column is, you guessed it, for completed tasks. This allows the manager to walk in and quality-check everything that’s ready to go.

Whether you’re on a team or not, this structure allows you to take control of all the crises and respond to only the critical ones.

The other cool benefit?

You feel more calm and collected because you’ve suddenly got a lot more control over your workflow.

2 Minute Action:

Draw up a scrum board real quick. 3 columns.

It can be on a piece of paper, a whiteboard, or on a napkin.

Fill it with all the tasks you’ve got in your face.

You will be amazed at how this simple framework will help you categorize and start to prioritize your work.

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