Agility, in the everyday sense, is our ability to move quickly and act in an alert and coordinated manner. Often, we associate this quality with physical activity—you might want to work on your agility to get better at sports, for instance. But in the world of project management, being agile is a methodology for accomplishing goals swiftly in an unpredictable environment. As our personal lives increasingly take on a similar aspect, we need to get many things done amid a changing world. Here’s how the agile approach can help you become more productive.
Get started now, not later.
It’s good to be ambitious in terms of your development. Many people dream big and set out to tackle big personal projects; however, they may eventually balk at the challenge or put it off indefinitely because they are waiting for all the requirements to be in place. The agile approach throws that hesitation out the window by diving in straight away.
For instance, today’s engineers don’t develop and release electronics in one go. They work through an iterative process of testing, with a printed circuit board (PCB) prototyping assembly for individual functions before moving on to integrated, complex product design.
Don’t be afraid that you’re not ready; get started now and test the limits of your current capabilities. Allow yourself to improvise, come up with creative solutions, and occasionally fail. This will allow you to learn, improve, and make incremental progress.
Map out what can be done.
The agile method focuses more on the action and less on planning. That doesn’t mean that you should forego planning entirely; the key is to be sparing and use your time wisely. Instead of starting with the big picture and then mapping out all the details, break down the big goal into several smaller, more manageable components.
If your dream is to self-publish a book, try breaking your goal down into chapters and focusing only on writing one chapter, without worrying about the whole. In doing so, you can adjust your daily schedule to fit in an hour or two of working on your project. You can’t write a novel in a week, but applying the agile workflow, you can certainly achieve enough daily progress to finish a chapter within that same window of time.
Reflect and take in feedback.
In project management, the team usually creates a report at the closure of all work activities to evaluate the overall performance and success of the endeavor. Traditional workflows don’t go much further than that when it comes to review and reflection; by contrast, the agile method encourages you to spend a little time each day doing just that.
Reflect on what you’ve managed to achieve in the day. You can celebrate success, but also be honest if you fell short—and most importantly, identify what your obstacles are and how to overcome them next time. Take in feedback from others who may be involved or can give constructive criticism.
If you want to accomplish a major project for your personal growth and satisfaction, sudden change can easily upset your plans. By adopting the agile workflow, you can make steady progress each day in small iterations, and be prepared to respond quickly to any unexpected events.