You wake up, get breakfast ready for the family (complete with coffee or your beverage of choice), and you're ready for the start of the work-day just in time for an e-mail reminder to give you a 10-minute warning for your video conference call.
But wait! Did you change your clothes? Nope. So, you sign on to the call, still in your pajamas, with NO video for this meeting. During the call, the children are asking politely (yelling) that they need help with their Google Classroom assignment or if they are already on summer break, the situation just got worse because they are BORED! You put yourself on mute to help the children and go back to the meeting. The next thing you know, it is lunchtime and you are still in your pajamas. You make lunch for the family or, if it is not your turn, you try to get more work done before you must address an “emergency with the children” Whew! Is it 4 p.m.? Where did the day go?
Did you get your work done for the day? After a quick check, you find the answer is NO, and to top it all off, the house is a mess, the children are still bored, and there's a lot of work to be done!
So, how do we manage it all? Think Agile!
In business, we apply the principles of Agile to produce a product that is pleasing to the customer. We break down, and set goals (Sprints) to achieve progress one chunk at a time. We look for potential blockers and meet every day (Stand-up meetings) to discuss how to accomplish the goals and mitigate the blockers. With remote work being the temporary norm or permanent state for some, and homeschooling a must, let us explore some ways that applying the Agile way of thinking can help us become more productive at home and work.
Daily Scrum Stand-ups
“Scrum encourages teams to learn through experiences, self-organize while working on a problem, and reflect on their wins and losses to continuously improve" (Drummond, 2020). So, how do we do this with a family? Huddle. Meet every day to review the entire day. As with Scrum, you can use meetings, tools, and roles to work together and manage the work (housework, schoolwork, work-work).
Meet to discuss the goals for the day and projects you hope to complete; this goes for you and the children.
• Discuss your product backlog. Consider a project and all the work that needs to be done to complete that project. For some, the project may simply be making it through the day. For others, it could be the managing of meals, homeschooling, work, family time, exercise, cleaning...the list is endless. You choose the project you want to focus on for the day.
• What did you accomplish yesterday?
• What do you think you will accomplish today?
• Are there any roadblocks? What is keeping you from attaining your goals? This is where working together is crucial.
Peter Saddington (2015) provides great tools and practical advice for implementing Agile as a family. Some of them include:
Overall transparency where work effort is going
Tracking accountability and progress in real-time
Focus time for work without interruptions
Organizational (family) alignment
Delivering highest-priority and highest-value first
Next, time, we will talk about Sprints for the family. Stay tuned!
2020. Drummond, Claire. What is Scrum? https://www.atlassian.com/agile/scrum.
2015. Saddington, Peter. Agile for All. Running Agile at Home. https://agileforall.com/running-agile-at-home/