Agile for One: Personal Productivity Course

TL;DR: there’s a PluralSight course called “Agile for One” that describes how to be effective in your life, using effective software development and personal productivity techniques.

It’s about two hours long, and I’m halfway through. Please remind me occasionally to update this thread with notes if I forget, eh @Wulf

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Got it boss.

Are you talking about a paid for course or is there a way to get this course for free?

It’s a paid course. I have a subscription as part of my work. I’m sure you can find free materials on this concept, too; there are lots of systems out there, like Personal Kanban.

Salam guys,

Sorry, I can’t really summarize this. The course covers a case-study of a hypothetical person working on a shopping-list app, and starts from day zero (what do I do?), working through the problems and arriving at the solutions/processes.

Even if all y’all were veteran scrummers and pomodoro pros, this would be challenging to summarize and explain.

TLDR: it’s kanban (focuses on workflow), with a daily planning (focuses work for the week), retrospective (20-minute process improvement), and working in pomodoros (25-minute periods of work with five minutes of rest at the end). Trello is The Man.

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I feel like this was too much of a cop-out given the interest. InshaAllah I will start posting some notes and you guys can ask reams (and reams, and reams) of questions if you like.


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lol, I had to google what ream meant.

I don’t know if I can come up with that many questions hahahha

I’m pretty sure you will. I’m pretty sure my notes will start with something like:

“Ohai it’s just Kanban with XYZ” and then someone will say “kanban lolwut?” And then while I explain about iterations, story points, etc. someone will say “user story lolwut?” … and so on. THAT will probably require reams of paper.

Prelude: Process

The course chronicles the trials of a man named Paul (let’s call him Bilal). Bilal works as a software developer by day at a big software firm. By night, he experiments with mobile dev. He wants to make a simple shopping-list app. He has a good idea of features (add item, sort list, auto-show pictures), but feels overwhelmed and doesn’t know where to start. He has about two hours a night to work on his app.

His company uses Scrum, which is an iterative process (deliver something small and complete every two weeks). He likes the iteration part, but scrum seems very focused around communicating: with users, with other developers, etc. Bilal decides that the process is a little two heavy, and decides to go for Kanban instead.

Scrum orients around: “let’s commit to what we can do in two weeks” and try to get it done. Kanban is more workflow oriented: it’s about getting a single story done, and letting work flow through the system (todo => ready => in progress => testing => done). Bilal decides Kanban fits his app much better.

Bilal decides to prioritize the features he has. Trello is a great tool for creating arbitrary columns and cards, so he creates an account and throws his ideas up, then orders them by priority.


The course starts you off using Pomodoro, which is a technique where you work (focused work) for 25-minutes, non-stop, on one thing; then take a five minute break. That five minutes can be to stretch, check your email/facebook/phone, talk, whatever it is. It works because you work hard, knowing you get a break.

Pomodoro works well if you can avoid getting interruptions. The author of the course also recommends a physical timer (digital ones just don’t do it).

To start, Bilal estimates his tasks in how many pomodoros he thinks it might take to complete. Anything bigger than five pomodoros usually means he doesn’t have a good idea of what it takes, so he breaks it down into smaller tasks and re-orders them appropriately.

After doing this for a couple of weeks, Bilal feels like he’s making progress, but sometimes feels like he’s doing too much at once – working on sorting the tasks, while fixing a bug he noticed in adding a new task, and browsing stock pictures for his app.

We’ll talk inshaAllah about how to solve Bilal’s problem next post.


^ Bilal’s a productive guy.

Two hours a day is pretty decent. And it’s achievable, even with kids, other obligations, hobbies, etc. One hour a day is definitely achievable. As long as you make conscious effort to block out that time and try to work on stuff, you should (eventually) get done.

Did you guys get any benefit from this? Shall I continue, or…?

Pinging @Severok since we’re testing this on our monthly game.

@ashes987, I really appreciate what you’ve done so far. That being said, I realized that this kind of course isn’t for me, albeit, I still would read whatever notes you do decide to post - so I can get an idea of the kinds of ways people organize their productivity and achieve their goals.

please continue @ashes987, I found the story useful and highly applicable.