Top Of Mind

Half a year ago, I wrote about how I prioritize my ScrumOfOne backlogs. (Hold my horses… more than one personal backlog, I say? A future post covers this…) What I am finding now is that while, yes, each backlog is prioritized based on its vision, the backlog for the current sprint consists of items that are top-of-mind.

Idealism is great. It also takes discipline. While, yes, taking steps to grow me via my different facets is the road of continual life improvement I prefer to take, sometimes dealing with boxes after a recent move is an itch I feel I must scratch. (Hold the smart phone… what’s this ‘facets’ business I’m talking about? Did I just throw in the kitchen sink? Nope, that’s FAUCETS, and that future post will cover this, too…)

Yet, removing post-move clutter (floor-al chaos?) does not feel important, especially in that strategic sense; I don’t feel like I’m growing, nor investing in myself… I feel like I am delaying. So, fine, I could work on that and take direct steps towards life mission output and processes, but this does nothing for day-to-day living conditions. Thus, both strategic goals and tactical goals are top-of-mind. Oh, horsefeathers, what do I do?

Of course, rid myself of the refugee motif in the apartment. While, yes, tactical vs. strategic trade-offs are not usually this drastic, I try to accomplish the lesser of the two evils anyhow, thus choosing to tackle tactical backlog stories first. Thankfully, David Allen of ‘Getting Things Done’-fame agrees with this approach. After getting control (mastering workflow) is getting perspective (horizons of focus), where we start with addressing next actions (buy cat food) before addressing principles and purpose: get deck-clearing capability first before being able to think at a higher level.

There you have it, folks – how I prioritize my sprint backlog with more ease of mind: address tactical stories at the top of your mind, thus preparing for strategic stories by clearing your mind.

Don’t Have A Fine Day

Don’t do it. Just don’t. Whatever it takes.

If somebody asks you, “Greetings, citizen! How fares your day?” and you say, “Fine!” …then… think about that.

Fine? Do you really want a fine day? Just… fine? It’s your day, so if you could chose an adjective to be associated with it, would you really want it to be ‘fine’? Come now, fair citizen, surely you wish this not.

This line of thinking comes from ‘Tribes’ by Seth Godin, where he says that if you are having a fine day, then you’re not leading, because leaders are the heretics, out causing trouble, passionately speaking out against the status quo and creating change because the marketplace demands it. To be a leader, I can see this definitely applying.

To be a living human being, I can’t see why this shouldn’t apply.

If you’re having a fine day, then it is not an exciting day. Could you have an exciting day and honestly say it was just, well, y’know, fine? This echoes a definition of happiness from ‘The 4-Hour Workweek’ by Tim Ferriss, where he equates happiness to excitement. If you are doing things that excite you (excites you to your core), then you are living life happily.

Let’s take this a step further and rock the boat a little: If you’re having a fine day, then you are not happy.

Ending on a lighter note, I challenge you to not have a fine day. Ever. Fo’ realz. Don’t float along the currents of everybody else’s life. Wake up every morning and tell yourself to make waves. I make this a part of my morning Scrum.

Stay in trouble, citizen.

Gift of Time

Have you ever found yourself saying,

Drat – this thing is due in a week/day/hour. If I only had another week/day/hour.

Think about it: If you had just one more week/day/hour, oh man, it’d be heaven! You don’t have a lot of time left (whatever the reason, you’ve accepted your current circumstances and are moving forward), and you’re anxious, and having that extra time would seem like… a gift. Oh, if you only had that extra time…

OK, but let’s say you’re not at this late stage; you are in the middle of something with a deadline. Try this:

Give yourself an artificial deadline to give yourself the gift of time.

If it is due in two weeks, get it done in one. I feel this helps with those prone to procrastinating.

Just feel it, though… put yourself there… you bust out whatever you can in one week, and at the end of that week, you take a step back, look it over, and you know what? It just actually might be good enough! If not, oh look, you have another week at your disposal.

In ‘The 4-Hour Workweek’ by Tim Ferriss, he talks about Parkinson’s Law, which goes, “a task will swell in perceived importance and complexity in relation to time allotted for its completion”, to which he recommends setting artificially short and clear deadlines.

The trick is now to motivate yourself to accept this new shorter deadline.

Bow Ties and Shoelaces

Time for a new identity!

Or not.

Maybe you just came out of a relationship. (You cut your hair / sport a goatee / get your ear pierced.) Maybe you moved town. (You look for a new set of friends.) Maybe you’re digging deeper into or taking on a new hobby. (You try on a relevant persona.) Maybe I found my voice and direction in life. (I buy bow ties and shoelaces.)

It’s funny how it happens. I’ve heard it said, and I’m sure you’ve experienced it: there is an inner change that is reflected externally. What appeals to you evolves and you take on new things that make you say, “This isn’t something I would normally do! This isn’t me!” And yet, here I am, buying bow ties, an article of clothing I have not worn since performing at piano recitals as a kid. And yet, here I am, buying shoelaces, because, well, I’m suddenly inclined to wear bright colored laces with darker shoes. (If this becomes a thing, you read it here, first!) Both these inspired and fun style changes are happening right after finding my life vector.

Tell me I’m not the only one experiencing this.

Death and The Night

So… how about this: let’s die well.

When we die, let’s do that whole death thing with a sense of peace, however & whenever that ends up happening. It’s gonna happen, and when it does, when you’re right up against that point, there’s stuff that’ll go through your head. What do you want to be thinking? As I’ve shared a week ago, I like the idea of lying on my death bed and knowing I’ve given my greatest gift.

Besides living each day as if it were your last, or as if you’re already dead, to get the most out of life… death seems pretty far away. So is that feeling of impending end as a motivator for giving your greatest gift. So let’s scale down both the severity of death and how far it is in the future – let’s call this the night. Let’s re-do the previous paragraph, replacing ‘death’ with ‘sleep’.

When we sleep, let’s do that whole sleep thing with a sense of peace, however & whenever that ends up happening. It’s gonna happen, and when it does, when you’re up against that point, there’s stuff that’ll go through your head. What do you want to be thinking? As I’ve shared a week ago, I like the idea of lying on my sleep bed and knowing I’ve given my greatest gift.

Now, Steve Pavlina on his blog has a great post that covers one way to simulate the death bed scene, except with way less drama, ’cause I’m in my Stewie-from-Family-Guy PJ’s. The following, lifted from his article on The Power of Clarity, is what I keep in mind as I go about my day. Give it a shot.

I was once told by someone that I should end each day by crossing it off my calendar and saying out loud, “There goes another day of my life, never to return again.” Try this for yourself, and notice how much it sharpens your focus. When you end a day with the feeling that you would have lived it the same if you had the chance to repeat it, you gain a sense of gratitude that helps you focus on what’s really important to you. When you end the day with a feeling of regret or loss, you gain the awareness to try a different approach the next day.