Spring clean

By | April 5, 2017

I love this time of year as Spring brings such a sense of promise: more daylight, warmer weather, a new Baseball season, a few Bank Holiday weekends, and the ‘Spring clean’. This annual ritual of cleaning the house dates back more than 3,000 years and has a multitude of benefits, including reducing stress, increasing energy, increasing creativity and drive. Apparently it even encourages us to eat more healthily.

This year it signified something much more significant for me. This year it was a seismic clear-out of my ‘icebox’.

No, I’m not talking about defrosting my freezer; I’m talking about the 281 items that were in the far-left area of my personal workflow.

Three areas of backlog? Why did you do that?

My logic was:

  • ‘Icebox’: a brain dump
  • ‘Backlog’: items I want to do in the next 2 weeks
  • ‘Ready’: the next few items to work on once WIP permitted

It kind of worked. Backlog items were batched and then the ‘Ready’ column helped me prioritise the next 10 items. Even the brain dump called ‘Icebox’ was useful in that it took ideas out of my head so I could keep a focus on the pressing items. It included articles and books to read, videos to watch, businesses I should visit, videos to make, concepts to investigate. All very noble and interesting items. Unfortunately, over the years, this dump got stagnant and smelly, with the fumes metaphorically rotting my brain. By March 2017, there were nearly 300 items in it, many of them 3 years old. The icebox had become a pile of rotten items that I could no longer stay on top of. It had grown. And grown. And grown. An ever expanding reminder of the work I’d not done.

I am highly productive, but this cloud nagged on my mind that I could be doing more.

Defrosting the icebox

Of course we could all do more, but at what cost? After my wake-up call (see last week’s post), I decided that this rotten icebox had to be dealt with. I needed a clean sweep.

I’ve cleared out the icebox and deleted the backlog column. There are only 31 items before the ‘Ready’ column, 22 of which relate to core areas of coaching (9 items for my PG Cert in coaching) and training (13 items for improvements to training courses that I run).

In fact, including work items in progress across all people involved with all my businesses, my cumulative workflow now consists of a grand total of 51 items.

It wasn’t an easy process. It filled me with fear that I might be losing the information contained in the cards: “I really SHOULD look into [insert card name here]”. Well, maybe I should … but it can’t have been that important to me if it’s been dormant for 12+ months.

So, from now on, the first day of Spring is a clean-out of my backlog. You could call it a Sprint clean?

Image (on homepage) courtesy of Lamprinh

One thought on “Spring clean

  1. Darren

    Sounds like the approach I take with my wardrobe – if I’ve not worn in it in the last year, will I ever? 🙂
    But more seriously, this is what I encourage my PO to do every few months. Look at the backlog. This ticket is X months old, is it still needed? Be critical, be strict, be realistic. If it’s actually A Thing, a user will suggest it again at some point.


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