Three-Minute Sprint

Try it.

And no, that doesn’t mean y’gotta be all strict-Scrum about it by having a Planning meeting, then standing up every 30 seconds, then Retrospecting at the end, followed by a Review session. Plan beforehand. Retrospect & Review afterwards. Sit down for the full three minutes.

Get yourself to focus for a full three minutes on something, where you may not have a potentially shippable output, but there is some micro-milestone you can claim.

Try it.

What you’ll find is this kick-starts your productivity. You’re giving yourself space to work towards something. Sometimes it feels silly, but at least for me, most of the time I blow past the timer and keep going.

This idea pops up when building habits. Pulling again from “Atomic Habits” by James Clear, when implementing “The Third Law – Make It Easy”, he recommends starting with repetition over perfection. This is what is meant by the initially counter-intuitive phrase, “quantity over quality”.

Frequency builds habits. So make it easy by finding and doing the miniature version of the habit you really want. Want to do 10 push-ups? Do and be satisfied with 1 push-up. Want to focus on work for 30 minutes? Do and be satisfied with 3 minutes. It’s the frequency of the exercise session and the work session that builds those habits, so you might as well make it easy.

The book calls this the “Two-Minute Rule”. I like three. Partially ’cause I’m Merrill The Third, and partially ’cause my daughter has these hourglass sand timers. We don’t have a two-minute one, but we do have a three. This analog solution is very satisfying.

Try it.

Who knows. It might kick-start anything you tell yourself you want to do, like, say, oh, I dunno, write a blog post first draft in 30 minutes, just as an example. Insert winkie-face here.

Agile Habits

Google “Aristotle quotes”. Here’s the first one I see:

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

(Oooh. Starting with philosophy. Dorky. I like it.)

In his book “Atomic Habits“, James Clear builds off of this notion. Habits are those actions we take without trying – they’re automatic. The reason they’re automatic is we have found value in making them automatic – we either do them very frequently, or we have practiced them a lot. The benefit of automating them is so that we save brain energy to think through things that are novel, or things that matter, instead of things we do with a high enough frequency, like brush teeth before bed, or wash hands after coming back home, or wiping our sword on the grass before putting it away after the weekly field battle for the Hill of Arowyn with the neighbouring tribe.

(Oooh. An attempt at a Welsh word. Gaelic. I like it.)

Continue reading Agile Habits

The Last Metric

Once, I dreamt I had cancer.¬†Conversations quickly turned to what I wanted to do in life. And then I woke up. It was literally a… wake-up call. Yet what I wanted to do in life was… a lot. How would I prioritize my bucket list? How would you prioritize? I’m using what I consider the last metric: deathbed regret. I had one clear thing. And then I did it! (And it sucked!) More on that in a sec… Continue reading The Last Metric

A High Bar for Product Culture

My daughter is in the phase where she’s always asking me “why?”, so she asks me, “Why do you go to work?” …and I hate how a toddler has given me so much pause… because I don’t like my answer.

Here’s a window into an internal struggle:

Do you work for a company with an inspiring vision? Why the heck not? And why do you choose to spend your days contributing to a group that’s not improving humanity?

And now, here’s my struggle as I iterate on my Agility:

Why continue to focus on how things are being built & done when what we are building & doing is not improving humanity?

What do I tell my 2-year-old daughter? Continue reading A High Bar for Product Culture