Applying Agile to New Year’s Resolutions – Part 3

Welcome to the final Part 3 of the New Year’s Resolutions series. Today we’ll discuss finalizing your New Year’s goals and resolutions using the remaining Scrum principles.

Recap of our progress so far

Let’s recap where we are. We’ve gone through Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.

So far, we’ve

  • done the review session
  • created a backlog
  • picked the sprint duration 
  • evaluated sprint capacity
  • decided on the sprint focus
  • done preliminary backlog grooming

Finalizing New Year’s Resolutions

Now it’s time to finalize our sprint goals.

  1. create a new text file called “Sprint 1 Goals”, “January Goals”, or “Q1 Goals” (depending on the sprint duration you’ve picked in Part 2)
  2. Write down your sprint dates (e.g., January 1-31). You need to see that deadline on a daily basis.
  3. Write down your sprint focus in one sentence.
  4. List out all the sprint goals/resolutions that you have selected for the first sprint.

At the end of this exercise, your document should look something like this:

Checkpoints for sprint goals

To guarantee a good first sprint, run your goals through this list of questions:

  1. Is it something that you have full control over?
    1. A much better goal would be to create and publish 10 videos on YouTube versus gaining a thousand subscribers.  Creating and publishing videos is something that you have full control over. While getting a thousand subscribers is something that is dependent on other factors that are often outside of your control. 
  2. The total sum of all the goals should not exceed your sprint capacity.
    1. So you shouldn’t commit to more goals than you have time available. 
  3. Your goals should be listed in order of priority. And the top one should be the closest to the sprint objective.

Adding definitions of done

Once your goals pass all the checkpoints, it’s time to add a definition of done for each of the goals. How will you know that a goal is done?

This definition of done should be highly objective. If you were to show this definition of done to a random person from the street, they would be able to evaluate if the goal is achieved or not.

In one of my previous posts, I gave an example of a home renovation project. Making a room look nicer is not a good definition of done because it’s highly subjective. What does it mean? Nicer to me is not the same thing as nicer to you. And how do you know when you are done making something look nicer? In contrast, if your definition of done stays that by the end of the sprint the curtains should be up, a coffee table assembled, decorative pillows and throws added, and three paintings hung on the wall. This is an objective and good definition of done. Why is that? Because a random person from the street can walk into your living room, check for all these items and agree with you 100% on whether the goal is achieved.

Why is it important to create a clear and objective definition of done?

I like to say that personal productivity is not about time management. It’s about self-management. You can’t manage time. There are 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. That’s it. That’s fixed. What is there to manage?

The only thing that you can manage is yourself. And more precisely – your brain. An objective definition of done brings clarity and stops any confusion. And our brains love the clarity that comes from clearly defined tasks. There is much less resistance from our brain when tasks are clear. 

In contrast, the end is never in sight when we have a vague goal of improving something or making something look nicer. There is always much more that you can do. As a response to this never-ending to-do list, our brain generates a lot of resistance, which is much harder to overcome.

A clear definition of done will help you on a daily basis when you go through the sprint. Your brain will be much easier to work with when there is such clarity.

Every goal or resolution for your sprint should have a clear definition of done.

When will you know that it is done?

  • If you want to go to the gym more often, how many times per week and for how long?
  • If you want to eat healthier, what does it look like? What do you mean? Remember, if a random person was observing you, how would they know you are sticking to your newest resolution? It should be that easy to understand.
  • If you want to start the YouTube channel, what would your progress be at the end of the first print? And remember, the progress should be measured in things you have full control over.
  • If it’s a habit you’re trying to build, how often do you want to go through this behaviour? At what point do you think it’ll become automatic? How many times for how long? 

Once you are done creating a definition of done for each goal, you are done planning your first sprint! Congratulations! You are now ready to begin your first sprint.

At the end of this exercise, your document should look something like this:

Recommendations for a successful first sprint

These are the 5 articles that will help you go through the first sprint:

  1. The one-way to-do list
  2. Daily standup for personal productivity
  3. How to create and follow your schedule
  4. The one question that stops my procrastination
  5. The one question that turns a lazy day around

And once you are done going through your first print, don’t forget to do the sprint review at the end of the sprint. Once you go through the first sprint, you will learn a lot about the goals that you’ve set, your own productivity style, your own self-management, and how you can work together with your brain to fight resistance, procrastination, and laziness. To make your next sprint even more effective, you need to have a solid foundation that consists of the learnings from the first sprint. It’s one of the most important parts of the agile framework.

If you have questions

If you have questions about the concepts I’ve taught in this New Year’s Resolution series, feel free to send me a message through the Contact Us page. I’ll be more than happy to clarify things.

Happy holidays and Happy New Year! Cheers!

Read Part 1 and Part 2 of New Year’s Resolutions series.

If you prefer an audio format, please consider subscribing to the Monthly Method Podcast.

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