Ever play ‘Hide and Seek’? At work? Try it some time – it’s what the cool (and productive) kids are doing.
The idea of a Sprint, a block of time to do stuff, is simple. And there’s magic in the web of it.
It is magic in that it protects a constant while still embracing change. Before a sprint, you set up what you will do for that duration – this list is called a Sprint Backlog. Once you enter the sprint, this magic box of time (I do two weeks), your Sprint Backlog is shielded from the weather. It might be calm and sunny, where you’re not really pressured to deviate from the plan. Other days, you might be in the middle of a crazy sand storm & hail front, where you’ve got what feel like forces of nature vying for your attention. Regardless, unless it is something catastrophic, Scrum espouses that you stick with implementing the Backlog for that Sprint; changes in priority and direction are handled in the Product Backlog (the larger list of things to do), which is then addressed in between Sprints. This allows you to get stuff done and not be affected by emergent distractions, usually changes in direction. Simple, yes no?
This is a strategic modus operandi. Let’s adapt this thinking to the realm of the tactical.
In the corporate environment (ah, cube land), you’ve got meetings, folks walking by and chatting, and guys flying stunt maneuvers with their (awesome, yet annoying) toy helicopters. These are distractions. Sometimes, they’re welcomed. Other times, when you’re in the zone or earnestly trying to get stuff done, they suck, and the DJ Tiesto-grade headphones that you bought for yourself as a Christmas present blasting progressive house don’t drown out the high-pitched whirring of spinning blades. Let’s apply some of the magic from Sprints and lessen the suckage:
Play Hide and Seek – block out time, space, and attention.
Block out time: Go into MS Outlook. Got a couple of hours that you would like uninterrupted? Create a meeting with one mandatory attendant – you! (awww…) Now when others are setting up a meeting that includes you, they’ll look at other available times, or think they’re super-important and double-book you while apologizing. (booo…)
Block out space: Go to a conference room. Hide. Wouldn’t it be cool if they made grown-up versions of Study Hall? It’s a sacred place where work gets done. Phones and pagers are silenced.
Block out attention: Turn off instant messaging. Turn off email. Do you really need to know the second you get an email via a pop-up in the lower-right corner of your screen?
Got any similar tactical tools you’d like to share?