We all want to be rich, lean, fit, have a good job, a happy life and all that stuff we aren’t or don’t have. But then, quite often, we are safe in our comfort zones and don’t really want to change that because we fear we may not succeed. Or we decide to change and start doing all the things that were said to lead us to our goal, i.e. we start exercises, diets, learning and other things we were told to do to reach what we want.

And then we fail…

Definition of “DONE”

You have your product backlog listed above. So you think, you know the goal. But do you really?

Quite often goals tend to be vague. We want, for example, to be fit. But then, does it mean we don’t want to get tired after running to catch a train in the morning or that we can run a marathon? Those two are completely different things and there are two different paths to reach them.

So here’s the first tip. Decide what you really want and think about as many details as you can so when you get there you know that you’ve reached what you wanted. Create your own definition of DONE.

Epic, Story, and Sprint

Quite often our goal is huge. Like in the example above you already know, that you want to run a marathon, but then you are a complete couch potato so running a marathon seems like an unbelievable thing. This is your epic. And in that case, you can split it into smaller chunks – stories – so they than can be fitted into our sprint (a 1-4 week long set period of time during which specific work has to be completed).

Here’s an example. You want to run a marathon, but, as we mentioned before you are a couch potato.

You decide to start with 5 km, then advance to 10 km, 21 km etc… But then, you can’t reach 5K within a 4-week long sprint, right? (Or maybe you can but this may be not the best idea for your health.)

So it’s still too much for starters. Thus, in the end, you decide to start a simple, progressive program that begins with more walking than running and gradually evolves into more running than walking. And you change the intensity every week/two weeks.

So here you have your story for a first week-long sprint: Do three 30 min long workouts with a run/walk ratio of 4:1.

Precise enough, right? So you know what you have to “DO” and you can easily see if you’ve reached your sprint goal in the end of the week so you can easily assess yourself against the sprint goal at the end of your sprint (in agile methodology it’s called Sprint Review). And if you reached your goal of 3 workouts you can celebrate now!


Despite how the sprint went in the end of the week you should set aside a few moments to deliberately reflect on how you were doing and to find ways to improve. This time is called sprint retrospective. You can use for example start-stop-continue approach and decide that:

You can stop your workout at 5:1 run/walk ratio, start 4:1 ratio and continue to run 3 times a week. Or you may decide you want to continue 5:1 ratio and add some strength exercise. And if Sprint didn’t go well you may think about why it went wrong. Maybe you should just do simple walking 3 times a week just to make yourself start the exercises and move from the couch? Or maybe you should go for a bicycle for now and move to running later on? It’s for you to decide.

This article was originally posted on LinkedIn.

All graphic in this article comes from https://www.scrumalliance.org/why-scrum.

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