Rule of Three and the stuff that don’t make your board

Hi Kalle,

As you probably have noticed over the years, I have a tendency to get really absorbed and fascinated with some of my hobbies during a time period.

Since I have limited time and focus available, a sort of Kanban-like system has evolved for this without me actually thinking about it – I can really only focus on three hobbies at the same time.

Right now, my three are:

  • League of Legends
  • Civilization 5
  • Skyrim

Past examples of these include previous versions of Civ, Starcraft 1 and 2 (both as a player and a spectator), a crappy Facebook game called War Metal:Tyrant, another crappy Facebook game called Farmville, Fallout, NBA basketball, Wrestling (the fake WWE-kind), Magic: The Gathering and various other card games and surprisingly enough, front-end development (the XHTML/CSS Web Standards days). Yes, a lot of games on that list – what can I say, I like games more than most people.

What’s more interesting though is that this list only includes the things I’ve perceived as major hobbies and time-drains over the years. There are obviously a lot of other things that have both taken up time and energy and given me great fun, that I haven’t thought of in terms of this system.

These fall into a couple of categories:

Family and friends.

These are in a class of their own, since the “system” is mostly for the part of my free time that is usually “Matte time”. It would be weird to think I’d have to bump a friend in order to have time for another. In reality though, this is probably closer to the truth than I would like to admit (just ask Jeff and Mark…).

Things that are too small to register.

Right now, that would be this blog, Puzzle Quest on the iPhone, reading books, reading magazines and playing board games.

Things that aren’t easily categorized as “hobbies”.

Ironically, this might be work items that bridges the gap between work and freetime (like reading work-related articles or improving a mostly work-related skill).

Here is the point:
Your Kanban or SCRUM board only holds what you think about and label as stories or tasks, which probably isn’t all activities that your team performs (like maintenance, meetings, bug fixing, software installation etc).

Everything else, you still need to have a plan for – either that part of your work automatically flows into your day and is part of your velocity, or you have to make it visible in some way so you can track it, manage it and improve it (always improve everything, right?).

Can you remember how we did this at Lavasoft? It seems like a blur to me now… 😉

Have a great weekend,


3 thoughts on “Rule of Three and the stuff that don’t make your board

  1. Hi Matte,

    As my comment on your post “Are you working on a train or on a plane?” suggests my main problem is getting on the train; fighting my inner resistance and get work done. Last Friday I managed to remedy this in a rather radical manner, relevant to your point of this post. After getting drunk, sleeping too much, watching bad tv-shows and indulging in other forms of procrastination I was sick of it. Being very binary in my approach I declared all waking time work time with the only exception of gathering, preparing and eating food.

    To get structure in my work I put everything on my Kanban (AgileZen) board. As I worked in pomodoros the whole time it was easy to ensure that I worked on my board, and inevitably that everything of importance was on my board. It turned out a bit strange, some things doesn’t feel like they belong on the board, like this task for instance: “Comment on Matte’s blog posts.” That one feels like a personal social thing that I should do …out of my heart because truly I want to not because a my kanban board tells me to, but if all wake time is work time it has to be on there. Apart from this I can’t be very social (being dogmatic), I can not answer the phone nor use instant messaging. So this approach is probably too extreme to work for extended periods of time.

    I did this successfully for three days, then the week hit, with its meetings, presentations, laundry, beers with Simon (yes, “beers with Simon”, for real!), and all of a suddenly it was Friday morning. My system (and/or me) could obviously not handle this, resistance flourished. Anyway this wasn’t my point and …I’m not sure I had one ;).
    Perhaps the point was that if you do nothing but work and work-ish things you can probably tackle this problem, but who does that and who would want to?

    On the other hand, do you really need to keep track of and manage everything such as hobbies? What do you really get out of it? A quote comes to mind, don’t ask me why… “I don’t have to set an alarm to remember to masturbate.” – Merlin Mann.

    Implausible scenarios aside, at Lavasoft it was easy: you and for the most part me, worked outside of kanban/scrum board, thus we did much of this “invisible work”. The remainder we tried to visualize using unplanned post-its, and the rest I suppose simply became part of the velocity. That is all I can recollect.
    Did this work? I don’t know :D. What do you think?

    My god, I’m not sure this qualifies under any of your three criteria, and it’s not even a blog post!

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