Using Retrospectives for Personal Time Management


After completing two posts on the use of retrospective meetings in an agile environment, I had to relate some thoughts I’ve been having about why the planning system I’ve been using has worked so well for me.

I started using the Full-Focus Planner system by Michael Hyatt back in 2018, and renewed my subscription to receive more planners in 2019.   I’ve been thinking about why I made that decision.   Of course I chose it because it works, but why does it work so well?

Well, that came to me while I was doing the previous posts:   most planners have pages for each day of the week, but the Full-Focus Planner has a few extra pages which it calls the Week in Review.   The things you would expect to see in an agile retrospective–what worked and what didn’t work–are here as well.    Plus a section on action items you can take in order to improve things.

I think this weekly review is part of the reason why it has been such a successful tool for me.   If you see that something is not done that needs to be done, you can schedule it again with a higher priority.   If it still doesn’t get done, then you know that there is some procrastination issue going on.   If that’s the case, you can do things like:

  • get help from someone else
  • break a large task into smaller ones
  • use the Pomodoro method of doing only 30-minutes of work at a time on the task, where you actively work for 25 minutes and then give yourself a reward of 5 minutes spent on some pleasant activity.

But it is also a reflection on what has been done and particularly what has been done well, so you can use it give yourself a confidence boost.   But, like in agile, it is the regularity of the review that is important.   And, the attitude is also important:  just like in an agile retrospective, it is not the time to look at yourself and heap blame upon yourself for not accomplishing this or that task.   The focus should be:  what’s done is done.  Now what?

One way to get your personal retrospectives like the ones in agile is to get yourself an actual kanban whiteboard to plan and track tasks, or to use one of the many kanban apps for personal use that are coming online.   Doing something visually in conjunction with your hands ignites a lot more mental pathways in your brain than just scanning a list visually.

Now let’s move on to the next activity that is considered key in agile projects:  that of creating and then prioritizing a backlog list, the equivalent of a work breakdown structure in traditional project management.  That will be the subject of the next post.

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