#AFSprint Week 1 Review

For the month of January, I’m running the very first Agile Faculty writing sprint challenge on Twitter, using Scrum strategies to meet my writing goals for the month. I’m tweeting every day about my progress, process, wins, and challenges. Look for the #AFSprint hashtag!

The first week of the #AFSprint writing challenges was a short, three-day push to get my plan set up and start making concrete progress toward my writing goals for the month. As I said previously, I’m not teaching in January (spring semester starts on January 29th) and have three articles related to the Design Thinking Studio in Social Innovation pilot program that I really need to get off my plate. Here’s my initial Scrum board:

I color-coded each of the three articles and prioritized them in order of level of effort each would take, least to most. The first article, a team teaching essay, seemed to have the fewest revisions needed and was the shortest of the three projects in terms of word count.

Notice I didn’t prioritize by time but instead by effort. We often estimate time in ideal hours (“oh, this revision will take about four hours…”), we don’t live in an ideal world. Those four hours might be spread out over days as we deal with other aspects of life and work. Estimating on effort or complexity helps us avoid that challenge. So to start me off and help me ramp up my productivity, I chose five tasks, or tickets, for my first work day:

Because the team teaching article is more essay than research piece, it seemed easy to add some of the additional examples and explanation the editor requested and to pull and read a few more articles about team teaching. I met my goals for this day, even though I ended up reading team teaching articles instead of keyword searching student interview transcripts (see below). I felt like I was making progress but also like it was pulling teeth to stay focused.

As I was working on my tickets for Friday, I finally admitted to myself that this essay was turning into much more of an essay-research article hybrid that was going to be more effort than I expected. Plus, I wasn’t sure how my co-teachers would feel about the change in emphasis and had some questions about how to frame the example stories.

After taking a break for a few hours, I decided to pull a few tickets from the second article on user stories and goal setting – easy things that seemed more like editing than writing – so I could get some small wins for the day. Surprisingly, I found working on this article to be much more interesting and engaging, and I completed several tickets on a Friday afternoon, which is historically not my most productive time.

So, going into the first full week of my #AFSprint January writing challenge, I’ve scaled back on the team teaching article and decided to follow my energy on the user story article. I’ll do as much as I can, knowing I’ll need to split focus soon because the introductory framing and lit review need to be completely redone. But I’m interested in how it will take shape, so I should make good progress in the first part of the week.

Inspired by seeing my progress visually? Follow along with the #AFSprint hashtag or join me in the challenge. Tweet your updates and Scrum board images to the #AFSprint hashtag, and tag me too! Happy writing!

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