The Web Witch's Blog

Personal Sprint Retrospectives

Due to time zone differences, I'm not typically able to attend team sprint retrospectives on Fridays.

If you've never done a sprint, a sprint is a set amount of time to complete a specific set of tasks. For example, we work in two week sprints at RapidAPI. I believe we did the same on the Microsoft Edge team but my work was so disconnected from traditional engineering teams, I was rarely ever working in sprints.

Work can spill over into other sprints, other randomizing tasks pop up and things get re-prioritized. It happens. But overall your sprint plan sets the goals for the sprint and what tasks you'd like to ideally close out.

In a sprint retrospective you go over what went well, what could be improved and what you should do more of in the upcoming sprints. I usually look at the retrospective board that gets shared out and make note of anything relevant to me as product manager, if there's anything and start sprint planning.

Why I do my own personal sprint retrospective #

Recently, I started doing my own personal sprint retrospective on my own for work. While I can't join the team one unless I stay up until midnight, it gives me an opportunity to reflect on what I thought went well, what can be improved in my own workflow and what I should continue doing.

Doing this allows me to close out the sprint in my own way and self reflect. It also allows me to create a routine, which I'm realizing is incredibly important with the way I currently live (lots of travel).

This exercise is also helpful as my scope has grown incredibly since my time at Microsoft. I was doing developer relations work but when I would do product feature work, it was just that. A feature in the browser. Now I own 4 products and experiences and the RapidAPI design system. So this allows me to drill down on where I think I can improve from a product management perspective.

Example of my personal sprint retrospective #

It doesn't have to be super detailed or in-depth. Just observations about what worked for me, with a focus on how I'm working as a product manager.

Do more of Keep doing Stop
Turn off notifications for better focus time Take a walk in the morning before meetings or during ones you are just listening Responding to every DM or Email immediately
Block calendar for specific project focus time More 1:1s with engineers Over-complicating solutions that can be simple
Have 1:1s Tue-Thur instead of 1st thing Monday Update Notion after every meeting
Spec writing

My focus lately has been how to maximize the use of my time, especially with meetings, because for every item I cross off my to-do list, I add 5 more.

With meetings for example, I noticed with the 1:1s I was having on Mondays, I wasn't feeling prepared or like I could fill a half an hour and realized it was because I was starting Monday with a solid block of meetings from 7:30 AM - 10:00 AM and sometimes 11:00 AM. I moved the 1:1s I was struggling with to Tuesday or Wednesday and felt a noticeable improvement in how productive the meeting went because I had more time to prepare an agenda.

There were also optional meetings I wanted to attend for learning and observation reasons and found myself declining at the last minute because they were optional. I started taking a walk to get outside and listening to those meetings instead. Any meetings where I don't have to actively participate or present, I'm now taking while I go for a walk. It's improved my mood quite a bit and I am more inclined to listen in and learn since I'm not just sat in front of my computer. It's been helpful.

The importance of routine #

This could be and probably will be an entire blog post in itself, but I'm searching for ways to keep a routine when I'm hopping around all over the place from Seattle to Berlin for work and England to spent time with Jhey. Having a personal sprint retrospective is one of those things in the routine I'm building.

A little retrospective inception in the "keep doing" table for my sprint retrospectives: personal sprint retrospectives.

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