What do you see when you walk through your home?
For years, each time I walked into a room, I would see all the things that were on my home to-do list. Keeping up with home projects can be overwhelming.
How do we tame the craziness of home projects and see the list of things to do shrink rather than grow?
Maybe you’ve written weekend to-do lists, set new year’s resolutions, started half a dozen projects but haven’t been able to consistently bring them to completion. If that’s you, I think you’ll be excited to see how Scrum can help you stop starting and start finishing those projects.
Here’s what I’m going to cover in this article:
I’ve done a lot of home projects over the years. Some are simpler, like replacing the fireplace mantel and others are more involved, like a bathroom remodel or building a shed office.
Some are short and go from ideation to completion on a single Saturday. Other span months of planning and execution. I needed a straightforward way to organize both what I want to do someday and what I will do today.
I needed two ways to view my home projects; by project and by time. So each project had its own board where I could organize all the information I needed for that project. This would include inspiration, possible ideas, budget estimates etc.
Giving a project its own board was especially helpful for projects we weren’t sure if or when we would do them. I could work through enough details to decide if it was something we wanted to embark on.
Now, as I walk through my house, instead of seeing to-dos, I see done.
Once a project got the green light, I would start building the backlog with work to be done. Your capacity and the size of the project will influence how you break down the job. You don’t want it too big like “build a shed” or too small like “cut the boards.” I still used the user story format for the backlog items. Here is an early user story for my shed office project:
It doesn’t prescribe whether I pour a slab or frame a platform. The user story describes my goal and what motivates that goal.
I sized my user stories by how many 2 hour blocks they would need. I tried other sizing options, but this one ended up feeling just right for me. On a given Saturday, I could work 8 hours. If I ended work on time, maybe I could get in a 4-hour block on a day I really wanted to go after it. Or maybe I have 2 hours on a given evening to get work done. If I thought something would only take an hour, I rounded up to two.
Depending on the size of the project, it might begin with user stories about getting quotes or gathering materials. Once I have the majority of work for a project outlined in user stories, it is ready to enter my ongoing workflow.
I used two-week sprints because they were long enough to complete meaningful tasks but short enough to provide urgency and agility.
At the beginning of a sprint, I selected how much work I could commit to completing based on my available time over the next two weeks. Again I used 2-hour blocks of work as my reference point.
Because I already sorted the backlog by priority, I’m moving the most important tasks over to focus on for the sprint. These tasks might all be for the same project or span multiple projects.
Once I had selected all the work for the sprint, I would re-order it based on how I thought I would complete it over the next two weeks. If it’s going to rain the next three days, outdoor work might move down the list a little.
Then I would select one or maybe two tasks and move them from the “to-do” column to the “doing” column. I tried not to have more than two tasks in “doing” at the same time. This is a challenging but critical disciple if you want to bring work to completion.
Once a task was completed, I could move it to done and go back to “to-do” to select another task to move over. This process would repeat throughout the sprint.
Each day I would review by answering the questions:
This daily rhythm keeps me clear on what I should focus on.
Sometimes something doesn’t get completed because I overestimated my available time or ran into unexpected complications. If that happened, I just moved the partially completed task back into the main backlog and ordered it relative to the other tasks. If it was still a top priority, it would get selected for the next sprint.
I find the list view in these apps helpful for adding all the tasks of a single project. And I like the board view the best when managing the work in a given sprint. Here's what the list and board views looks like in ClickUp.
Leaning Scrum for the first time can be a bit overwhelming. There are many new terms and concepts in Scrum.
Well we’re here to help.