Silent Sustained Work

If you’re my age (32) then you likely remember SSR. SSR (Silent Sustained Reading) was time set aside to disperse around the classroom with a good book and focus on reading. While my buddies and I had our fair share of goofing off during SSR, we did actually power through a few books and make the teacher happy.

The concept of SSR is simple and is a big part of running agile. Having a set period that you and your team are quiet and working helps you focus when you have a large workload. The trick is setting up your week or sprints in such a way that you leave Silent Sustained Work (SSW) aplenty and allow you and your team to focus and get their projects done.

Here a few tips that can help:

Morning & Evening Standups
Have quick standups in the morning and before the workday ends with your team. In the morning have each team member tell you what they’re going to work on and in the evening have them update the team on their progres.
Focus on One Thing at a Time
One reason for the morning standup is to plan out the work for the day. Plan your daily work in small chunks and knock them out one at a time. When you try to put too much on your plate you lose focus and end up working on 3/5/10 things at a time and prolong work.
Avoid Distractions
One reason I get my team over-the-ear, DeadMau5-like headphones is so they can remove outside distractions and envelope themselves in their daily work. Headphones tell the outside world that you’re busy and not to be bothered.
Say No
This can be the hardest thing to do especially when facing a frantic sales rep or boss who needs something done yesterday. Don’t be set off track of a well-thought out workload. Politely say no, explain why and let them know that it’ll be scheduled and folded into a sprint.

Setting aside time is easy to do if you’ve got the right process in place. Remember, SSW doesn’t have to be a myth and you don’t need an agile marketing office to make it work. You can easily implement some of these tips solo and at least knock your own work out of the park.

Herefish Colophon