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Get Back on Track: Using Scrum to Maintain Your Momentum

It’s that time of year again. The time when we begin sliding off-track of our New Year’s Resolutions. Despite all the high hopes and self-directed hype to maintain them, they fall to the wayside. I know I am not alone. According to an article written by Inc. Magazine,  one fitness app released data showing that January 19 was the day most users quit tracking their activity. The company has deemed it “Quitters Day” and other studies show that most people lose sight of resolutions by February.  

I am guilty of quitting and abandoning my resolutions myself. However, in my professional life, I develop and implement plans to achieve goals incrementally over several months or more. Why should New Year’s Resolutions be any different? Perhaps a shift of perspective is needed?  

“A resolution is simply a User Story…”  

So, this year I’m resolving to use Scrum and Agile principles to help me with staying true to the improvements I want to make in my life.  

A resolution is simply a User Story: for example, “I want to start running so I can run the half-Marathon Turkey Trot in November.” I established my role as the user, stated my objective, and defined the reason for my objective.  

The next step is to break the User Story into smaller increments to make it attainable. What does it take to prepare for a half-marathon? To start, it takes building up the strength and endurance needed to run for 13.1 miles. I don’t know about you, but if I had to run today, I probably wouldn’t even make it to ¼ mile. In order to prepare, I’ll need some supplies: comfortable running shoes, a fitness tracker to know how far I’ve run, a portable way to get water, etc. I will look at all these items to build into my overall goal of running this half-marathon and create Product Backlog Items (PBIs).  

“Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound”

Once I can see all my PBIs, its easier to prioritize and estimate the amount of effort needed to complete them. Then, I can start knocking them out in incremental time-boxes or Sprints. If I choose two weeks the length of my sprints, I can create opportunities to gather feedback more often and better understand any impediments keeping me from reaching my goal.  This process can also reveal other factors that may or may not affect my efforts by completing a Retrospective session at the end of my sprints. Most importantly, looking at the completed PBIs will encourage me to stay motivated. I don’t know about you, but a check mark on my task list always gives me a little dopamine rush! 

Whether you want to write a novel, get stronger, climb a mountain, get out of debt, or anything else, 2022 can be your year to do it! The important thing about making resolutions is committing to continued self-improvement, and attainable if they are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) using Scrum and Agile.  

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