A Scrum Master’s Strategy for Focusing a Scattered Mind
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, this powerful exercise shows you where to spend your energy
A while back, I noticed that my teenage daughter was overwhelmed by everything she had on her plate: moving out on her own for the first time, applying to internships, searching for a part-time job, staying on top of her health, and maintaining her social life. While she has always been very disciplined, all of these activities were competing for her attention, and she was struggling to find the right balance. She wasn’t getting enough sleep, and it began to affect her well-being.
It hurt me to see one of my kids struggling. I wanted to help my daughter without telling her what to do (not that she would have listened — she was becoming an adult, after all). I wanted to teach her how to manage multiple tasks, a skill she would need for the rest of her life.
In my job as a scrum master, I guide teams in understanding their priorities so they can find focus. I thought back on all the exercises and interventions I’ve used in my work, and eventually landed on one that I thought could really help my daughter sort out her scattered thoughts: the WADE Matrix. WADE stands for What, Analog, Digital, and Execute. (It’s also the name of its creator, scrum master Derek Wade.) The WADE Matrix is a visual tool that lets you see everything that’s on your mind, and helps identify where you should focus your time and energy. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it can reveal the steps you should take to get back to clarity.
My daughter has become somewhat used to her dad bringing scrum techniques home, so she was open to trying this exercise when I told her about it. Here’s how it’s done.
To use the WADE Matrix, you’ll need a pen, a stack of Post-its (enough to capture all that’s going on in your mind), and some wall or floor space to stick them all on. We have a big cupboard in our living room that fit the purpose quite well.
WHAT: Gather data
To begin, I asked my daughter to write down everything she had going on in her life — one item per Post-it. This was a great way for her to empty her head…