Friday, January 6, 2017

The Year of Being Agile -- Agile Method and Magic

For those who aren't familiar, the agile process is a very simple and streamlined method for having a regular cycle of planning and review and supporting rapid iteration, fast failures, quick recoveries, and course corrections. It was created for software development, but works well for all kinds of other projects where you may not know everything in advance (no map).

The core unit of time is the sprint. Typically, this is from 2 - 6 weeks. For a magician, what could be better than a monthly timetable (either solar or lunar)? In between the sprints, there's a single process that involves:

  1. Reviewing what you accomplished (and what you didn't)
  2. Retrospecting how things went and adjusting course as necessary
  3. Identifying new tasks to do with your end game in mind (this is called the backlog)
  4. Planning the next sprint by forecasting and choosing the tasks you want to do
The only other required activity is a quick daily check-in against your planned activities (it's called a stand-up because you shorten the meeting by stealing the chairs). And that's it. For a team of one -- which you may likely be for your magical working -- this daily check in can literally take just a minute or two (and you can probably sit if you want). What did I do yesterday? what will I do today? is there anything blocking me?

I like the zen quality of this particular piece of corporate clipart

So that's the agile process. But being agile is a lot more than just following some process.

Your goal should be agile and the steps you identify to reach that goal should also be. That means, small, flexible, low-commitment, easy to review against the end game. And your magic should also be agile. Sigils and kitchen witchery and ongoing spirit connection are preferred over elaborate long-range enchantments because you can start to see results (or the lack of results) quickly. 

Think of planning in terms of the month. So you do the appropriate divination, check in with whatever forecasters you follow (magical/astrological/mundane), and so forth... but you focus only on the coming month. And your tasks should fit into a month as well. If they are bigger than that you have to break them down.

Tasks also have to be concrete and actionable. You have to be able to judge, at the end of the month, whether you did the task and whether the task got you closer to your goal. So if the goal is "improve my health" the task isn't "eat better" it's:
  • Identify healthy breakfast smoothie recipes and pick three
  • Write recipes on cards and make a grocery list
  • Buy ingredients for two weeks of healthy smoothies from your list
  • Set alarm for 15 minutes earlier in the morning
  • Set reminder for before bedtime to pre-prep ingredients
  • Make a healthy smoothie and drink it every morning for two weeks
Even the last item alone (which most people think of as a good task) is way too broad. You need small steps that you can actually do and check off. It sounds anal, but it's NOT. It's smart. Because there's always way more to each baby step than you think. If you expect to wake up on Monday morning and somehow manage to create a smoothie, without ingredients or recipes and before you've had coffee? Yeah, good luck.

Small steps are good for another reason. If at the end of your sprint you discover that healthy breakfast smoothies actually make you feel bloated and sluggish, well, you haven't spend a fortune on a new weight loss plan or made a major commitment. You're agile! So just create a new set of tiny tasks (Identify healthy lunch salad recipes...) for the next month and off you go.

Sometimes small tasks can be really impactful. You really want to eat healthier? Try the following small tasks:
  • Store your dinner plates in the garage (eat off your salad plates instead).
  • Store all junk food in the trash (cleaning the newly empty pantry shelves is a bonus).
  • Eat before you go to the grocery store (this one "weird trick" will save both your health and your wallet).

And while you can do tasks for several different items, swap goals depending on what makes sense, or add new items to your list each month, you shouldn't signup for more than you can do (you would think this would be obvious, but we all do it).

So the cycles are daily (daily check in, daily offering, daily meditation) or monthly (divination, planning, etc.). And over time it starts to make a natural rhythm. It works. It works for software teams to get product done right and it world for getting your own shit done.

Because lets be honest, coming up with stuff to do isn't the hard part. Doing the stuff is the hard part. Changing habits, putting more tasks into your day, realigning your priorities. I'm never that impressed with large exciting goals. No, what impresses me is making changes in your life that are helpful and that stick.

To be clear, you can have much longer and more detailed / elaborate / defined projects. I have, both professionally and personally. But it's just not a good time to kick off that kind of project right now.

Next up we'll be talking about LIVING agile and digging deeper into my Agile Magic Manifesto.

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At January 6, 2017 at 3:26 PM , Blogger Jacqueline Bradley said...

What's kitchen witchery? And what do you mean by daily offerings?

In the meanwhile I had always thought: 'I'm. It touching a green smoothie with s barge pole.' Until I got a nutri bullet and made this:

Peel and chop 1 pear
Add 6-7 slices of cucumber
Add 1 chopped ring of pineapple ( you are supposed to use passion fruit, but it's really expensive over here)
Add some spinach leaves and 2 tablespoons of Greek yogurt.
Add ice
Nutrition bullet it

It's absolutely gorgeous ��

At January 6, 2017 at 3:47 PM , Blogger Ivy Bromius said...

Kitchen witchery is spellcraft that you whip up from whatever's alive in your yard or dead in your spice cabinet. It's based more on intuition than firm rules and the goals are usually more practical things (health, protection, uncrossing, prosperity, etc.). I not only have chef's spice cabinet (bonus, the chef cooks for me frequently) but a selection of essentials oils that I use to whip up enchantments.

For daily offerings, I offer to the ancestors (who are conveniently located all over the walls of our dining room) and Fortuna at our household altar. Just water or light or incense typically. I also offer less regularly to the Deities I have relationships with (wine for Dionysos for example).

We also have an insane blender (vita-mix) and I like myself a nice green smoothie. That recipe looks great and I will try it -- though not on a Monday morning before coffee. I also enjoy a yogurt-based smoothie with frozen berries and a bit of banana. The yogurt (plain, whole milk, live culture) makes my stomach happy.

At January 7, 2017 at 11:56 AM , Blogger Jacqueline Bradley said...

*note to self* buy frozen berries!

Thank you Ivy. I assume by your a vest ring all over the wall you mean photos!

At January 7, 2017 at 2:26 PM , Blogger Ivy Bromius said...

LOL, yes!


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