Have you heard the term Agile before? Scrum? What about Kanban? If you work in a professional setting, there’s a high probability your company has thought about or has adopted one of these frameworks. They are methods for improving workflow, productivity and teamwork. With the lightning speed of industry these days, companies needed a way to deliver faster, higher quality products. These task management methods were developed to address that need.
What do these methods accomplish? They help teams get and stay on the same page. They streamline tasks, enhance productivity and turn lofty goals into achievable ones. If these techniques can do all that for a company with countless moving parts, imagine what they could do for your personal life!
In this modern age, our personal lives are just as busy as our work lives. We all have goals we want to achieve, whether it’s running a marathon or just getting up a little earlier and eating breakfast. We have books to read, activities to participate in, classes to take, kids to wrangle, friends to catch up with, gatherings to host and charitable initiatives to take part in. It's an intricate balancing act, one that often leaves us stressed out and, ultimately, burnt out.
So, what are Agile, Scrum, Kanban and task management for that matter, and how can you apply these concepts to your daily life?
Agile is an approach that breaks a project up into short development cycles called “sprints”. At the end of each sprint, the team meets face-to-face to review progress and adjust behavior as necessary. The focus is on continuous improvement and rapid delivery. Applying agile to your personal life can be as simple as breaking up your big goals into smaller, more manageable goals. For example, if you want to add 70 pounds to your bench press, break that goal up into adding five pounds every two weeks, and suddenly it will feel a lot more achievable.
Scrum is part of the Agile approach and involves collaborating and communicating with the people who are working on a project as well as the people who need the project completed. It’s simple really. It entails actively discussing work in progress and implementing feedback. Using Scrum in your personal life could mean holding a weekly or bi-weekly family meeting where you cover things like chores, school projects, planning upcoming activities and even checking in on everybody’s emotional state. This type of “têtê à têtê” keeps everybody on the same page and encourages open communication.
Like Agile and Scrum, Kanban is a method that helps teams work together more effectively. Kanban translates to signboard or billboard in Japanese which explains neatly how the system works. Work items are represented visually on a board to provide full transparency to all team members. Using Kanban in your personal life can help you manage the flow of all your commitments and keep tabs on where things are at. You can go analogue and use an actual board with sticky notes, or you can download an app like Trello which is essentially an online Kanban board.
If you find terms like Agile, Scrum and Kanban intimidating, don’t worry, because these are all just different ways of saying task management. Task management means planning your tasks, plain and simple. There are lots of digital tools that can help you manage your tasks, and yes, your calendar app definitely counts! Making to-do lists on your phone, adding “get groceries” to your calendar, creating a shared calendar with your partner — these are all simple ways that you can engage in task management, and make life a little simpler for yourself in the process.
Life is busy, and it seems to get busier every day. If you feel like you are always struggling to juggle a million different things, it might be worth trying a method like Kanban or Agile. If you just want to get more organized in the New Year, your calendar app is a good place start! Using one of these task management tools in your personal life can help alleviate stress and make your “someday when I have time” goals achievable today.
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