Tackle Life Together

A blog by Sally Waters

sally [at] homescrum .co.uk

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Life categories

An old version of our life categories (this was too many!)

I feel that a good planning system would not be complete without some colour-coding. A good level for this is to use different colours of paper for different types of tasks. In corporate Scrum, these colours would probably be linked to ‘epics’, i.e. the big overarching goals that the tasks are grouped under. For Home Scrum, this idea translates nicely into life categories.

Life categories are probably a familiar concept, even if you’ve never used them yourself before. A simple starting set might be: ‘Health’, ‘Work’ or ‘School’, ‘Social’, ‘House’, and ‘Hobbies’. You could get away with even fewer than that; I’m not a good guide in how to keep this simple, because my friend once had to stage an intervention for me when I admitted I was up to fourteen different life categories in an effort to feel in control of all the my projects via over-analysis, and instead I was feeling very overwhelmed. We are now down to eight: ‘Health’, ‘House’, ‘Hobbies’, ‘Dog’, ‘Work’, ‘Social’, ‘ADHD’, ‘Meta/Misc’, and I am banned from adding any others. (Francis is allowed if he wants to, because for him it isn’t a gateway drug to planning addiction.)

After reducing the number of life categories I was using, the funny thing was that even though my immediate number of obligations didn’t decrease, at the time I still felt significantly less overwhelmed just by grouping them together. So, no matter how many different colours of paper you’ve managed to find, make sure you resist temptation and stick to an absolute maximum of ten categories (and, if you can manage it, more like six or fewer).

To explain some of our categories:

  • ‘Meta/Misc’: miscellaneous items which don’t really fit in any of the other categories, and ‘meta’ tasks which are to do with the Home Scrum system itself.(E.g. we have tickets for the Sprint Planning and Sprint Retrospective events.)
  • ‘ADHD’ refers to various outreach and social awareness projects Francis and I have been involved with in the past about ADHD. At the moment, it refers to tasks to do with this blog.
A different set of life categories: health & self-care, home, hobbies/fun stuff, miscellaneous.
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