Improve Your Life With Scrum

Photo by Clark Tibbs

What if I told you there is a scientific way to improve and simplify your life? A way that is widely used, has proved benefits and visible results?

And yet, nobody uses it in their personal lives.

Enter Scrum…

“Scrum is a framework for developing, delivering, and sustaining complex products” — The Scrum Guide

Scrum is mostly used in software development projects, but it doesn’t have to be used only for that. The way it is formulated allows Scrum to be applied to anything — even our personal lives. It mentions “complex products”. I can’t think of anything more complex than life…

The Scrum theory comes from the Scrum Guide, which states…

“Scrum is founded on empirical process control theory, or empiricism. Empiricism asserts that knowledge comes from experience and making decisions based on what is known. Scrum employs an iterative, incremental approach to optimize predictability and control risk.”

This “iterative, incremental approach” is key in Scrum. And in life.

The average life expectancy in the world today is around 71 years. That period is just too long for anyone to grasp its true meaning. Most of us have plans, hopes, and dreams. We want…

  • To start our own business
  • To learn a new language
  • To learn how to play a musical instrument
  • To get fit
  • [Enter your own goal]

Most of us have plans. But very few of us have actual deadlines for them. After all, we have 71 years to accomplish all this. But what if we didn’t? What if all we had was a Sprint?


The heart of Scrum is the Sprint. A Sprint is…

“…a time-box of one month or less during which a “Done”, useable, and potentially releasable product Increment is created.”

In your life, you will not be creating product increments. But you can define a Sprint Goal (get one customer, learn 50 new words, play a basic song on the piano…) and work to accomplish it by the end of the Sprint. Keep in mind that this is not your end goal, but rather a part of it, a step on your ladder to success.

In professional projects where Scrum is used, there are other people in the team to make you accountable for what you do, but in your personal life, you will only answer to yourself. Easy to cheat, right? Not if you follow the Scrum Values:

  • Commitment
  • Focus
  • Openness
  • Respect
  • Courage

Scrum Events

The Sprint is the “box” where other events take place. If you are serious about achieving your goals, you should follow the Scrum Events:

  • Sprint Planning
  • Daily Scrum
  • Sprint Review
  • Sprint Retrospective

Sprint Planning

The goal of Sprint Planning is… well, to plan the Sprint. The planning should be divided into two parts: what you will do, and how you will do it. Once you define the Sprint Goal, write down the smaller goals (Stories, in Scrum terms) you need to accomplish during the Sprint in order to achieve the main goal. Be as detailed as possible.

For example, if your Spring Goal is to learn the 50 most used words in French, your Stories could be the following:

– Define what are 50 most used words in French — search on the Internet and create my own list combining different sources

– Memorize the words — create flashcards, and study them

Daily Scrum

The Daily Scrum should happen every day but should not take more than 15 minutes. At the Daily, you plan the work for the next 24 hours. If it helps you, you can answer these questions:

  • What did I do yesterday that helped me meet the Sprint Goal?
  • What will I do today that will help me meet the Sprint Goal?
  • Do I see any impediments that prevent me from meeting the Sprint Goal?

For example, you can realize that you have an impediment that prevents you from doing the flashcards: you do not have paper at home. So, your job for that day would be to go to the shop and buy some, that way removing the impediment and letting you proceed with your Sprint.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema

Sprint Review

This event happens at the end of the Sprint. Here you should “inspect the Increment and adapt the Product Backlog”. This means that you should review what you have accomplished and, accordingly, adapt the remaining tasks for your next Sprints.

Following our example, here you will inspect what you have achieved during this Sprint. Did you learn the 50 words you had as a goal? Can you identify them all? If not, how many do you know?

Sprint Retrospective

The Sprint Retrospective is an opportunity for the Scrum Team — well, only you, in this case — to inspect itself and create a plan for improvements to be enacted during the next Sprint”.

At this event, you should analyze yourself and your work during the Sprint. You must do it accurately and without cheating. After all, if you cheat, you will only sabotage yourself and your progress.

In our example, if you realize at the Sprint Review that you only learned half of the words, you need to analyze yourself and your work method. Did you work consistently for your goal? Maybe you studied the words only twice a week for one hour instead of 15 minutes everyday, which is known to help memorization?

Why It Works

This structure is effective in achieving good results because it creates room for the three pillars of empirical process control on which Scrum is based:

  • Transparency
  • Inspection
  • Adaptation

If you follow this framework, you will always know where you are in your life. You will have a timeframe to assess your current situation against the desired one. And you will have the clarity to correct the trajectory when you are going off track.

No matter how small or how big your plans are, or even if you just want to assess your life in general, Scrum can provide you a valuable asset to help you achieve great results in a timely manner.

If you give this a try, let us know in the comments below!


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