My Agile Life: Agile Relaxation Your Relaxation

(This column is posted at, Steve’s LinkedIn, and Steve’s Tumblr)

(My continuing “Agile Life” column, where I use Scrum for a more balanced and productive life continues).

I’ve put a lot of time here discussing agile techniques and mindsets for productivity.  But, let’s discuss relaxing and how it applies to an Agile Life.

Relaxing?  Having fun?  Yes, these are part of your life, so you’re going to have to figure how to handle them.  If you don’t, then you’ll either be less productive than you expect, or burn yourself out not relaxing or relaxing too hard.

First, relaxing and having fun can take time, obviously.  So how do you account for them in your taking an Agile approach to life?  I find two approaches work:

  1. One approach is to make sure you pick a workload that gives you time to relax.  If you’re good at making that call you should be fine – by the way, I’m not.
  2. A second approach is to capture social time as part of your plan – actual tasks/stories.  That way you get whole blocks of time to relax and it reminds you to relax.  This is probably good if you’re a bit of a workaholic – they act as roadblocks to that tendancy.
  3. A third approach, which I use, is to combine the above.  I capture major social events, and try to balance things out otherwise.  This mostly works for me.  I actually think if I did #2 I’d way overplan my own relaxing.

Now, once you find a way to make sure you have time to relax, I’ve found you have to approach it with the right mindset.  This is important – and believe it or not I’ve actually learned to relax better with Agile.

RESPECT YOUR WIP: I’ve discussed WIP, Work In Progress, the amount of items you want to work on at one time so you’re not distracted (I set my limit to 2).  Relaxing should be part of your WIP – if you do something big (like a con or a party) it should not violate your WIP limit.  If your WIP limit is one item at a time, you should have your plate of work cleared so you can focus and enjoy.

FOCUS ON YOUR FUN: Much as you want to avoid multitasking when working on something, you should avoid the same thing when relaxing, at least on big things (like a party, a really good video game, or so on). Give yourself a chance to have fun, don’t suddenly switch to work in the middle of it, don’t try to fuse “serious” relaxing with actual tasks.   Just as you should focus on a task, you should clear your mind for fun.

So there you go.  Some Agile insights on fun.  That’s why I do these things.

(By the way I do plenty of books for coaching people to improve in various areas, which may also help you out!)

– Steve