visual scrum board

Using Scrum to get my work done

My work method is hands-on and very structured. I do this by using parts of the Scrum method. Scrum is an Agile process framework for managing complex work. In the beginning it was mainly used in software development, but it can be used in many other fields to structure work. Additionally, it helps with clear communication towards customers about the progress of the work.

Whereas Scrum is mainly used in teams to collaborate efficiently with frequent and clear communication, I use parts of the workflow to get my work structured and get things done. Here are the elements of Scrum that I use (some slightly adjusted to my personal preferences ?):

Sprint iterations

A sprint is a certain amount of time that will take to complete an iteration. This gives me clear beginnings and ends to work I have done. Sprints usually last between 1 and 3 weeks. Since my projects often last no more than a couple of weeks and a lot of my work can change in a short time, I use sprints of 1 week. This gives me flexibility without losing structure and overview.

The visual scrum wall

One of the beliefs of Agile work is to make everything you do visible. A portfolio- or scrum wall shows you all the work (to be) done in one overview. The wall next to my workplace is covered with sticky notes and changes on a daily basis. It gives me great motivation and satisfaction to literally see the progress of my work.

Sprint iteration
visual scrum board

The backlog

The product backlog is one big overview of work to be done. I am putting everything there that I want to do in the future. It can be the near future or the very far future.

The backlog refinement

Backlog refinement is the ongoing process of reviewing my backlog items and preparing them for the sprints. Here I am making clear what needs to be done for each item and cut up large activities into smaller, executable tasks. Also, I’m prioritising my backlog: what do I want to get done in the coming sprints and what is more for the long-term.

Sprint planning

At the beginning of each sprint I’m making a planning. I think of what I want to achieve this week and what activities from the backlog need to be put in the sprint accordingly. The planning helps me set clear and realistic goals for the sprint. Of course it can be that during the sprint something happens that makes me adjust the scope of the active sprint. I allow myself the flexibility to adjust this, but I always ask myself first: “is it really this urgent that it cannot wait until next sprint?” And: “do I have the time to fit this in?”

Phases of To do, In progress, Done

Within the sprint I’m using the phases of To do, In progress and Done. At the beginning of the sprint during the planning every activity starts in the To do section. When I start an activity, it moves to the In progress section. I try not to have more than 3 items in the In progress section, because then I loose focus. When a task is finished, it moves to Done and I can start a new activity from the To do list.

Daily stand-up

In teams the daily stand-up is used to update each other on the work in progress and to give an opportunity to ask for help from teammates. I’m using it to review the sprint progress: am I still on track? What do I want to get done today? In teams the daily stand-up is used to update each other on the work in progress and to give an opportunity to ask for help from teammates. I use it to review the sprint progress: am I still on track? What do I want to get done today?

Retrospective

One of the best bits of Scrum workflow: at the end of the sprint I’m looking at my wall and see what I have achieved. Usually a feeling of great satisfaction comes over me. At the same time I’m evaluating the sprint to get better at it every week: What went well? What could have gone better? Why did this item take me so much longer then expected? What can I do more efficiently in the coming sprint? What items are not finished and will move to the next sprint? Why did I not finish this item and how can I anticipate on this for the next time.

Want to know where I get my work done? Check out my blog on Best places to work in Dubai as a freelancer.