An Agile Approach to NOT Procrastinating

Paul Weinstein / 21st June 2016 / Comment

Here are four helpful tips to keep the agile process moving so that you and your team can be more productive every day.

1. If you have a task that’s blocking someone else – do that task first!

One of the biggest productivity killers for teams is when someone else is blocked by you. If you have a blocker on your task list – get it done first thing and get out of the way! If you are procrastinating on a blocker task, it’s not just you who’ll be impacted.

blocker

At Wheelhouse, we run agile and hold daily stand-ups where we spend 15 minutes each morning reporting on what we did yesterday, what we plan to do today and highlighting any blockers (either internal or external).  This last step is key. By highlighting (especially internal) blockers, we prevent unnecessary delays and enable the team to focus on items that keep others moving. In many cases, the blocker tasks are small, but are holding up a larger task, which kills team productivity and threatens to delay significant projects or deliverables.

2. Do the hardest (important) thing first – especially in the morning. 

The most daunting tasks tend to be the ones that hang around on your task list just a little too long. Resolve to tackle the most difficult tasks first – the rest of your list will be easy!

It’s very important here that the items at the top of the list are of the “important” variety – be they urgent or otherwise. Focus on urgent and important tasks early in the day when you are fresh, before the rest of your day takes over. Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle is a good framework for prioritizing your list. By putting first things first, you’ll be actively practicing Habit 3 and begin your day with a sense of accomplishment.

3. End the day with a few easy wins.

This falls into the structured procrastination category of self-management. John Perry, Stanford Professor and author of “The Art of Procrastination”, posits that even procrastinators get things done – they just don’t get to that top item on the list.

The end of the day is a time when you can knock off a couple of those easy items lower on your list.  As you enter the late afternoon, commit to clearing 2-3 easy tasks off the list. It’ll clear space for more items (see next step) and even if you couldn’t finish that monster task from the morning, you’ll feel better about your day and will have practiced structured procrastination.

4. Plan tomorrow today.

Before you hit “Home” on your Waze app, take a look at tomorrow’s calendar. Spend 10 minutes thinking about your plan for tomorrow and identify any new blockers or difficult items that you’ll be tackling first. Re-prioritize your to do list in priority order for tomorrow, then head home!

By Paul Weinstein