What I’ve Learned From Scrum (As A Writing Coach)

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You may not know this: I’m a certified scrum master. If you’re not familiar with scrum, it’s not so different from what I do in coaching. The scrum master is the coach for the scrum team, facilitating teams to work together on complex work.

While scrum is used most often for technical projects or software development, any complex process benefits. Three things I do where I can use scrum: Running a business, completing a writing project, and developing a workshop.

In this article, I will share two aspects related to scrum which have supported my projects.

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My favorite part of scrum is the retrospective. The retrospective is a review of how much got done this sprint. The scrum master facilitates the team’s retrospective as they look at what went well, how much was completed, and how to do better next time. This supports the process of iterative improvement.

I heartily believe in the power of retrospectives. Just as it’s an important aspect of scrum, it’s significant in my life. Looking back at how things have gone allows awareness. Awareness is the first key to change and improvement. Without knowing and understanding what’s happened, how can progress be made? There is also much learning from the past. Observing your own actions can be a great teacher. The retrospective unlocks the ability to initiate true change.

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I’ve also learned a lot from using a task board. The task board in scrum uses sticky notes and three columns – To Do, In Progress, Done. Tasks are broken down into backlog items, and ordered in a way that makes sense. One item at a time is moved from the “to-do” to “work in progress,” and ultimately to “done.” At the end of each period of work, there is a review.

Here are some key learnings from the task board which you can try:

  1. Break down tasks into the smallest chunks. Consistent baby steps is much better than doing a bunch at once and getting burned out or needing to re-do work. Really separate out each task. Break it down. Keep breaking it down until it can’t be made any smaller and can be completed in under 5 minutes.
  2. Short sprints. Working on a longer project can feel discouraging. Having shorter periods of work can be more manageable and feel more productive.
    One task in progress at a time. Ooh, this is a hard one for me. I can spend a day working on several articles, but feel miserably unproductive at the end of the day because I haven’t made competed any of them! I like to have multiple ideas flowing at once. However, my focus gets scattered. Taking one step at a time helps move effectively towards completion.
  3. Celebrate done. It’s satisfying to: Physically and visually move a task from “work in progress” to “done.” See how many things are under the “done” column at the end of the day. Look back to measure progress over time. Projects I work on usually take weeks or months to complete. Seeing what I’ve done in the past reminds me I am moving along and making progress.
  4. Organize. The task board helps keeps all the to-do’s collected in one place. Before I started using the task board, I wrote my ideas in different documents or kept them in my brain. I’d spend valuable time at the start of each work session trying to remember what I did and what to work on next. Now I know exactly where to go to find my next step.

Do you use a task board or perform retrospectives to support completion of your writing projects? Comment and let me know.

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