Tackle Life Together

A blog by Sally Waters

sally [at] homescrum .co.uk

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too long; didn't read

TL;DR: Summary of the whole Home Scrum blog as bullet-points

Too long; didn’t read? No problem. Please find below a bullet-point list summary of Home Scrum of nearly all the ideas included in this blog.

A very handy acronym

Finding your Home Scrum team

  • Scrum is meant to be used as part of a team—it won’t work using it on your own.
  • Accepting help is a form of vulnerability; shame can make it very hard to think we deserve help.
  • Asking for help can nurture trust and a connection with others.
  • Look for the other member(s) of your Scrum team by considering who shares your goals (or wants to help you with yours), who you have access to, and who makes you feel safe.
  • Beware the drama triangle: are you falling into a pattern of victim, rescuer, and persecutor?
  • The opposite of the drama triangle is the winners’ triangle: being caring, assertive, and vulnerable.
  • If you’re offering help to someone else, don’t necessarily expect it to be welcome (you must respect their boundaries and they have a right to refuse your help).
  • I have put more effort into our Scrum board than Francis because it helps Francis contribute more in all other areas of our lives.
  • Your team member(s) are agreeing to one, short, daily meeting and a couple of longer meetings every week or fortnight.
  • If you want to do Scrum with a child or a teenager, try not to impose it upon them; introduce it as a game, or for a particular project, and let them influence how your Scrum board works.

Setting up your Home Scrum board

  • You need to decide where to put your board; ideally somewhere you’ll often be in sight of. If no wall-space is available, consider using doors or your fridge.
  • Physical is better than digital, at least for your Home Scrum board. You want the board to be visible at all times so that it is super easy to refer to and you are set up for success.
  • Our environment has a massive impact on our beliefs and behaviour. We can reverse-engineer this to allow our environment to support positive life choices, but creating that structure for ourselves is not an easy process, because we are not starting from a blank slate.
  • In terms of equipment, you’ll need to find/buy a cork board or whiteboard (with pins or blu-tack respectively), post-it notes or coloured paper, and (optionally) ribbons for column dividers, thin marker pens and a compartmentalised box to hold the coloured paper.
  • To add a structure to your board, the simplest layout is ‘To Do’, ‘Doing’, ‘Done’. You are going to keep adapting it to your needs, so don’t worry about starting with something basic.
  • Use different colours of paper for different categories of tasks: for instance, ‘Health’, ‘House’, ‘Hobbies’, ‘Work’ and ‘Social’. Don’t make too many categories!
  • You will probably need a space for ‘regulars’, i.e. tasks that repeat.
  • You might consider leaving space for some type of calendar on your board too.
scrum board diagram


  • Coming up with tasks is a task in itself.
  • Breaking down tasks to their ‘atomic’ parts, externalising them as a physical object, and separating each of those objects so that they are independent, modular parts, all helps to provide a way to support and replace the working memory.
  • The working memory is a major part of the brain’s executive functions, which are impaired for people with ADHD and many other neurodivergent or mental health conditions.
  • If you want, you can add ‘acceptance criteria’ to your tasks to define what standards need to be met before a task is properly finished.
  • Having a ‘definition of ready’ and a ‘definition of done’ is like having general acceptance criteria for when a task is deemed ready to do (refined enough) and finished.
  • You can use T-shirt sizing to estimate how long each task will take: you can make up your own scale, but one for estimating how large a project is might look like:
    • XS: less than a week
    • S: a week
    • M: two weeks
    • L: four weeks
    • XL: eight weeks
task diagram
  • Story points are normally used to estimate relative effort of different tasks, usually on this scale: 0.5, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 20, 40, 100, infinite. (It’s intended to mimic the Fibonacci sequence.) ‘5’ is considered a ‘medium’ task, and usually tasks above 13 need to be broken down more.
  • Tracking the average story points achieved in a sprint per day and per person (velocity) in order to come up with a number of story points to realistically aim for in the next sprint (capacity) is entirely optional and may not really be that useful as humans are bad at estimating task size.
burn up chart diagram
  • But tracking story points in order to try and get more in the next sprint has always been weirdly motivating to us, and hopefully you might find the same effect.
  • A Product Owner has ownership of the task backlog, and the final say over prioritising what’s next. However, in a family or household, it doesn’t usually work for one person to be able to make sweeping decisions like that.
  • Take a picture of your board if you need to refer to what tasks you need to get done while you’re away from the board during the day.
  • Try keeping coloured paper in a pouch in your pocket, or on your home and work desks as well as by your board, so you can write down tasks while you’re out and about.
  • Don’t worry about trying to capture absolutely every goal and task; it will clutter up your board and make you feel overwhelmed. It’s better to focus on the more immediate goals and try to regularly remove tasks which are not currently relevant.
  • Accepting limits is tough for all of us, but especially those afflicted with perfectionism.

Daily Scrum

  • Scrum is not just a board and tasks; it is a series of ‘Scrum events’ (the Daily Scrum, the Sprint Retrospective, the Sprint Plan and the Sprint Review).
  • It’s hard to do the Daily Scrum consistently every day; habits unfortunately do not become as ‘automatic’ as a lot of self-help books claim. Be prepared for times when you might stop for a few weeks, or even stop needing Scrum at all.
  • It may help to stay motivated with initiating the Daily Scrum by framing it as something you’re doing for your team-member.
  • The Daily Scrum is fifteen minutes long at a maximum.
  • It’s supposed to happen at the same time each day with all team members, but if that’s not possible, at least set an alarm for the time you’ll do it at on the next day.
  • During the Daily Scrum, each team member could answer three questions:
    • What did you do yesterday?
    • What do you plan on doing today?
    • Do you have any impediments/blockers?
  • You can also do the Daily Scrum as a ‘board walk’, where you go through the tickets on the board.
  • There are many different types of work, but some are much more appreciated than others.
  • Our Daily Scrum routine usually consists of counting up the story points we’ve done and then setting up the board to reflect the tasks for the next day.

Sprint Retrospective

  • The Sprint Retrospective (or ‘retro’) is a meeting at the end of the sprint with two main purposes:
    • reflecting on and airing the team’s feelings about how things are going
    • coming up with a new experiment to tweak the way your Scrum system works
  • The simplest way to run a retro is to get each person to write down what was good and bad about the sprint, discuss these, and pick one thing to try to improve.
  • Other games and ideas exist for how to make the retro more creative and playful and encourage the team to share with each other.
  • The retro is very important; missing it will lead to resentments building up that could have been addressed in this neutral setting.
  • Not everyone will naturally want to mess around with their own ways of working as they are personal and being told that your way is wrong can be very upsetting. It is better to take a broad view of people’s contributions and not obsess about trying to get everyone to agree to your exact standards.
  • A family or household will have already developed a network of fixed roles and dynamics which make simple changes actually much more difficult to do psychologically; there is more going on than just the ‘rational’ or ‘objective’ surface ideas.
  • Inspecting and adapting is a core pillar of Scrum that helps to keep your system alive and fun. Doing it at home means you don’t need to worry about looking ‘professional’ which often stifles corporate Scrum systems because no-one is willing to look silly.
  • Adding elements of play back into adult life is crucial to good mental health, but is something that is quite ruthlessly suppressed in many Western environments.
  • Knowing that Scrum would help him stick to it, Francis has become much better at finding experimental solutions to our problems since they are no longer hopelessly optimistic.

Sprint Planning

  • If necessary, you can run Scrum using only the Daily Scrum and retros, but sitting down to plan upcoming tasks once a sprint will probably help you feel more in control.
  • Scrum helps you keep reality in mind by being empirical: you constantly inspect and adapt.
  • Aim low: do the easiest, simplest version of your goal (the Minimum Viable Product) and beware of scope creep making the original idea larger and ‘better’.
  • The ‘sprints’ in Scrum are supposed to be closed units: you focus only on the tasks you decided on doing to achieve your Sprint Goal, and new tasks have to wait until the next sprint to be considered.
  • An alternative approach to closed sprints is Kanban, where the backlog (or ‘To Do’ column) is constantly reprioritised as new tasks are added.
  • Refining the backlog often involves identifying ‘stale’ tasks which you are no longer intending to do, and letting them go.
  • Any tasks which make you feel ashamed or overwhelmed need to be broken down further until they feel more possible and the starting step is clearly defined.
  • ‘MoSCoW’ (Must, Should, Could, Won’t) is a good way of analysing which tasks are actually the priority for achieving an overall goal.
  • There are many different types of goal. One broad categorisation is whether a goal is a finite, project-type goal, or an ongoing standard to maintain. One way of setting ‘easier’ goals is to make them ‘broad and shallow’, i.e. doing one tiny thing every day rather than a big thing in one day.
  • Deciding what you want in life (and changing your mind about it) affects your identity and your ego, so it is harder than it looks. It can be scary to let go of who you thought you were.
  • Changing your mind about how to spend your time and life is a form of self-compassion.
  • Ask yourself, what is the point of productivity? Is doing more really the answer? Give yourself permission to do less with your time.

Sprint Review

  • A Sprint Review is normally used to present the next Product Increment to the company stakeholders.
  • We can use it in Home Scrum to review what we’ve done during the last sprint and celebrate our achievements.
  • It’s important to remind yourself of what you’ve done as your brain is evolutionarily programmed to remember less about good things.
  • If you don’t feel like what you’ve done is enough, you may need to try being kinder to yourself. Perfectionism may well be skewing your perspective of how much is reasonable to expect of yourself.
  • Similarly, procrastination usually masks underlying anxiety, and is a valid (although not entirely helpful) response. See if approaching yourself gently rather than berating yourself makes a difference.
  • Good luck with Scrum, and please don’t hesitate to get started!
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