One of the first things I learned in Scrum is the importance of a task being “Done”. In short, until something is done, you don’t get the value.
Getting a task to “Done” might not be as simple as someone picking it up and doing it. Sometimes, it’s good for members of a team to pair up and work on a task together.
Developers might have enough knowledge of the task and the system they’re working with to code it on their own — but they’re going to need someone else to review it.
Unfortunately, what I’ve seen happen all too often is that there isn’t any slack in the team. The mindset seems to be that if we have 5 or 6 developers, we can give them 5 or 6 totally distinct tasks. What do you do if a developer needs to ask someone for help? Or if their code is ready for review, but everyone is busy on other things?
By focusing on too many things at once, and treating everyone as a “resource” that can have 100% of their time assigned to a different task to the rest of the team, what happens is you end up with a lot of things that are partway done.
Instead of having as many balls in the air as you have people, it’s better to get the team to focus on a smaller number of tasks and see them through to completion. That way, you will be steadily delivering things, instead of running into the issue where it seems that nothing is coming out of the team — until suddenly, a bunch of things all land at the same time.
Are you always busy?
This approach can also benefit anyone who keeps talking about how busy they are. Being too busy should not be seen as a trophy — it can mean you’re overloaded and stressed out.
If a task is on your to-do list for too long, and more tasks are being added to your list all the time, you can quickly feel overburdened.
To avoid this, try to limit the number of things you have in progress at any one time. You can do this by focusing on getting things done.
It can be very rewarding to finish a task. It doesn’t mean you can’t add to something in future — it just means you’re marking the task as complete. Make sure each task has a clear goal, so you know what “done” looks like.
By focusing on getting things done, you can start working through your backlog, stop feeling so busy, and finish more things!
In 2021, I’m trying to write more regularly on my blog – hopefully one post per week. See my progress so far here: Weekly blogging in 2021