I often find myself pondering ways to apply the continuous improvement methodologies I use in my software development practice into the rest of my life. Today I was doing some mental wrangling with how I was going to spend this lovely spring day and I thought I'd manage it the same way I manage any other day. This is a, mostly humorous, account of how it went.
For most days I try to pick out 3 "Most Important Tasks" and focus on those. Today I chose going to a Yoga class, cleaning out my truck, and tidying up my room. All three are tasks that have been in the backlog, or even the icebox, for a while. A beautiful Sunday in April is the perfect day to prioritize these tasks that usually don't bubble up to the top of the list. Consider this my mythical 20% time when everything else is done enough and I can actually focus on some smaller "rocks." With three MITs defined it was time to get started.
Yoga was first because it is a scheduled class. This highlights the importance of blocking off time on your calendar. If you hold your calendar sacred, like you're supposed to, then this is very effective tool to get things done. I estimated this task would take me 3 story points. I measure my story points in "ideal Pomdoros" even though I know the pitfalls of measuring story points in time units. Three pomodoros because the class is two pomodoros long and I need roughly half a pomodoro on each side to get to and from the studio. This all went south when I got home, right on schedule, but realized I left my mat at the studio. It would take an additional half-hour block to get there and back. Of course, when I got there, the studio was closed, so now I'm a pomodoro behind and have no mat to show for it. I guess I'll add "pickup mat from studio" to the backlog for another day.
With it being such a beautiful day, cleaning out the truck was next. I estimated this would take two pomodoros. It's a bit messy, but a focused hour would be plenty. The floor-mats came out no problem, a small trash bag of receipts and a handful of those green Starbucks splash guards later and I was ready to vacuum it out. I had found a receipt from a recent trip to the service-station that has the info needed to get new emissions stickers. I added that to the mental backlog. The hand-held vacuum wasn't charged so I went to the backup plan of the shop-vac. That would need an extension cord at the back of the storage room. In the process I knocked over a jar and shattered it on the already messy floor. This was not in scope but clearly I could not leave glass on the floor. In the process I noticed at some point someone had spilled small washers all over the place, that was clearly not in scope so I added it to my backlog.
Back outside, the extension cord did not reach the truck. Add re-arranging the vehicles in the drive way to the process. This is about when it hit me that this whole process should have been broken into sub tasks and each one measured separately. I was not collecting data on which sub-task made the overall project go over-budget. Turning on the hose to wash down the mats, I witnessed the ground bubble with water. It looks like the basement sump pump was expelling water but not able to do so because the discharge pipe had been piled over with mulch. Not in scope, add that to the mental backlog.
After putting the shop-vac and extension cord away I found myself in a common conundrum. The task was not done, because the mats needed to dry, but I was done with all I could do for now. Time to move the "clean the truck" task back into the "selected for development" list and go on to the third Most Important Task, tidying up my room.
On my way upstairs I talked with Dagny about how I had completed two of my three Most Important Tasks but the estimated 5 pomodoros had turned out to be 9 and I had more issues in the backlog than when I started. She reminded me I owed her a blog post for this month's newsletter and that wasn't on my Most Important Tasks. :frowning face with open mouth:
Four pomodoros later, the blog post is done, the mats are dry and ready to go back in the truck and I should go see about tidying up that room.
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