The importance of focus and how Agile can help

Have you ever had one of those days where you have been super busy and yet, you feel like you have achieved very little? You woke up in the morning, with a few items on your to do list, but it’s now the end of the day and not only have you not finished any of your tasks, but your list has become longer! How is that possible?! You’ve been running around all day and barely had time to drink a cup of tea!

We’ve all been in that position, and the problem is you are busy, not productive. To be productive, you need to have focus. You need to dedicate time to focus on one thing, and get it done before moving onto the next thing.

Agile can help

The beauty of Agile is that each task is one card. You pick up that card, and you work on that card and that card only. If something comes up that is unrelated, feel free to write it on a different card so that you can come back to it, but don’t lose focus on the task as hand.

The aim of using cards is to reduce context switching. By regularly switching subjects, you lose your train of thought on the current task and your brain needs time to remember where you got to on the new task. The more context switches that occur, the more tired you will become, and the slower you will become in remembering where you were; it’s a vicious cycle.

Agile At IJYI

Here, at IJYI, we use Scrum in all our projects. Scrum is a type of Agile and, in this scenario, the details of a user story is put on a card.

During a sprint, each team member will focus on one user story at a time. Our main aim is to get as many user stories finished as possible, so multiple people may work on the same story together. We would far rather have fewer stories finished at the end of the sprint so that the customer can get the value, than lots of stories in progress and therefore no value delivered.

Using Scrum gives our customers the ability to see a return on their investment after every sprint. Considering each sprint usually lasts 1-2 weeks, that can mean a very quick turn-around.

Not only for IT projects

Agile is well known within the IT industry, but in reality, it is a methodology for organising work, not just IT work, and is actually used in other industries.

Look at fast food restaurants. The burger flipper is not taking orders at the same time as cooking the burgers. If they were, they would be much more likely to burn the burgers (or worse, themselves) while they were concentrating on taking the order. Fast food restaurants are fast for a reason – everyone is focussed on one task at a time. That is not to say that they don’t know how to do another task, it is just to say that they are only doing one thing at a time.

Agile can be applied anywhere where work can be organised. It can help you to focus on one thing at a time, giving you the opportunity to be more productive and feel more in control. You could even create a Kanban board for the chores at home so that your kids could do some jobs… ok that might be wishful thinking, but you see where I am going. Give Agile a go and see how productive you become.