Steve’s Agile Life: Writing Time

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

As I write about my “Agile Life” experiment (where I use the Agile techniques in  Scrum) I hope to get others to think about time management.  Looks like my friend Serdar over at Genji press got himself a thinking about time management.

He gets into his own blogging, how he has to carve out time, and how his cadence for projects differs based on the kind of said projects.  It’s a great insight into what he as a blogger does – but also he talks about his way of blocking out work.

As a great deal of his work is writing, he blocks out a time to write each day, setting a minimum time.  If he’s not up for one thing, he’s up for another.  That’s a smart writing technique, and I wanted to note where something like this can fit into the Agile mindset.

  • First of all, he notes that he sets aside time to write, but doesn’t necessarily choose what he writes until he sits down.  This is a great idea on two counts – he has a block of time, and can make the call as to what’s needed at the time.
  • Secondly, if you use this technique, why not consider breaking your writing work down into hour increments and tasks?  That way if you set aside an hour, you can use it to measure progress on projects.  Also, great practice for work breakdowns.
  • Third, this gets you into the habit of practice.  With writing and certain other creative skills, many people respond well to regularity to both accomplish work and hone skills.  Why not make that Agile, with regular writing, broken down so you can slot it into your writing time?
  • Fourth, this removes roadblocks, which is a big part of why we use Agile techniques (as I heard it put once, the prime focus of any Agile method is to find what’s blocking you).  By having this general time you can go around other writing blockages – but by having a set time to write you keep up the regular work you need.

What’s funny for me is I’ve tried both techniques and tend to lean towards not writing each day.  I tend to like task-based writing, to accomplish “x” goal, be it 30 minutes or 2 hours of writing.  But it’s all about finding what works for you.

(Then there’s people asking if they need a definition of “Ready.  Let’s not get into that.)

– Steve