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Your projects, one month at a time

Once a project manager, always a project manager

This post comes following a conversation with my sister where she listed everything she wanted to do in the upcoming days. I was exhausted just listening and I’ve been thinking about a way to help her free her mind.

Then I remembered the idea of a backlog within the agile Scrum methodology. Let me first quickly explain this interesting concept and then I’ll come back to how we can apply it in our own lives.

Scrum is a methodology for managing the development and maintenance of complex products and is mainly used for software development. With this approach, the Product Owner prioritises the requirements of the backlog (everything that must be done to deliver a viable product) according to their importance to the users and explains to the team what he wants them to achieve in the next sprint. A sprint can last 2, 3 or 4 weeks. It is the team’s responsibility to ensure they have understood what is expected of them, to evaluate the complexity of the work and the time required. If it is too much, then the requirements at the bottom of the list are simply crossed off.

Once the list is finalised, the team focuses purely on those requirements without worrying about any additional requests or changes.

So what if we applied the same principle to our own lives? Once or twice a month, make a list of everything we would like to achieve (repaint the windows, replace the fridge, change the lounge furniture, enjoy a weekend break, take flute lessons, etc.) and put everything into order of priority depending on its importance. Then decide what can be feasibly completed within the chosen time frame and forget everything else until the next planning session.

And what if new ideas come in the meantime? No problem, we just add them to the list to be prioritised at the next planning session. Didn’t manage to complete everything during our sprint? We can either postpone the task to the next sprint, put it aside for later, or simply remove it all together.

This approach helps us focus during a set period, instead of constantly stressing about all the projects we have in our head. And it feels great to see, one month at a time, which of our most important projects we have completed.

Need a bit of help?

There are several tools available to help professional product owners manage their backlogs. To apply the concept to our personal lists, we can use the ‘tags’ and ‘category’ feature of any task manager software, or simply write a list. Personally, I use Teamwork, a software solution which allows me to divide my lists by project but still have a general overview.


  • The scrum guide,

  • Teamwork projects,

What about you ? Do you have similar or different experiences? Let me know, I'll be happy to discuss it with you!

Artwork : Mélanie Bénard Tremblay, 2019, © Marakoudja.

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