The Personal Scrum Guide

Overview of Personal Scrum

Welcome to the world of Personal Scrum, an adaptation of traditional Scrum principles tailored to individual productivity and personal development. This guide is designed to introduce you to the concept of applying Scrum in a personal context, focusing on the core values of Scrum while embracing a philosophy of “radical pragmatism.” This means we prioritize practical, real-world effectiveness, adapting Scrum techniques to what works best for you in your daily life.

Scrum, traditionally used in team-based project management, particularly in software development, is renowned for its flexibility, adaptability, and focus on continuous improvement. By bringing Scrum into the realm of personal productivity, we aim to harness these strengths to help you manage your tasks, achieve your goals, and improve your workflows in a way that is both structured and adaptable to your unique circumstances.

In Personal Scrum, you become the sole practitioner of three roles – the Product Owner, the Scrum Master, and the Developer. This unique amalgamation allows you to set your vision and priorities (Product Owner), oversee and refine your processes (Scrum Master), and execute your tasks (Developer).

The core Scrum values – Commitment, Courage, Focus, Openness, and Respect – are integral to this personal adaptation. In Personal Scrum, these values are internalized to foster self-discipline, resilience, and a growth mindset.

  • Commitment: You commit to your personal goals and tasks, ensuring a dedicated approach to achieving them.
  • Courage: You face personal challenges head-on, ready to step out of your comfort zone for growth and learning.
  • Focus: Your energy is directed towards prioritized tasks, minimizing distractions and maximizing productivity.
  • Openness: Be honest with yourself about your progress, challenges, and the need for change.
  • Respect: Acknowledge and honor your efforts, time, and well-being.

Radical pragmatism in Personal Scrum means being flexible with Scrum rules and frameworks to find what best suits your personal life. It’s about customizing the system, not just to be productive but to also ensure it aligns with your lifestyle, values, and personal aspirations. It’s Scrum, but personalized – where the metrics of success are defined by your own standards of satisfaction and achievement.

As you journey through the concepts of Personal Scrum, remember that the goal is not just to be more productive, but to create a harmonious and sustainable way of managing your life’s tasks and ambitions. Let’s embark on this journey to discover how Scrum’s principles can be uniquely applied to enrich and streamline your personal and professional life.

Personal Scrum Definition

Personal Scrum is a lightweight, adaptable framework designed for individuals seeking to enhance their personal productivity and effectiveness. It applies the principles and practices of Scrum, a widely used agile project management method, to the realm of personal task management and goal achievement. Personal Scrum enables individuals to organize, prioritize, and execute their tasks and projects in a structured yet flexible manner.

This framework involves setting clear, attainable goals (akin to a product backlog in traditional Scrum), planning short-term work phases (sprints), executing tasks, and reflecting on the process for continuous improvement (through Sprint Reviews and Retrospectives). Personal Scrum emphasizes the core values of commitment, courage, focus, openness, and respect, encouraging individuals to take ownership of their productivity while adapting to life’s changes and challenges.

In Personal Scrum, the individual embodies the roles of Product Owner (defining goals and priorities), Scrum Master (managing the process and making adjustments for improvement), and the Team Member (executing tasks). The framework’s adaptability allows it to cater to various personal contexts, whether managing daily routines, personal projects, or professional development goals. Personal Scrum is not just a productivity tool but a mindset that promotes self-discipline, agility, and continuous personal growth.

Scrum Theory in Personal Scrum

Personal Scrum, like its traditional counterpart, is grounded in the theory of empiricism, which asserts that knowledge comes from experience and making decisions based on what is observed. This empirical approach is central to Personal Scrum, focusing on transparency, inspection, and adaptation.

1. Transparency: This involves being honest and clear about the tasks and goals at hand, as well as the progress being made towards them. In the context of Personal Scrum, transparency means accurately recording and acknowledging the work that needs to be done, as well as the work that has been completed. This clarity is crucial for effective inspection and adaptation.

2. Inspection: Regularly reviewing one’s progress and processes is key in Personal Scrum. This inspection doesn’t just apply to the tasks completed but also to the methods and workflows used. By regularly examining the work done and the process used, you can identify areas for improvement and celebrate successes.

3. Adaptation: Personal Scrum recognizes that personal goals and circumstances are constantly evolving. Therefore, adaptation is a crucial part of the process. When the inspection reveals aspects of the work or process that could be more effective, timely adjustments are made to ensure continual progress and improvement.

Iteration and Feedback: Personal Scrum is iterative in nature, with work divided into Sprints – short, consistent periods during which specific tasks are completed. At the end of each Sprint, there is an opportunity for reflection and feedback, which is crucial for learning and adaptation. This iterative cycle encourages continuous assessment and adjustment of both short-term tasks and long-term goals.

By applying these principles of empiricism, iteration, and feedback, Personal Scrum enables individuals to manage their tasks and goals in a way that is both structured and responsive to change. It fosters a mindset of continuous learning and improvement, making it a powerful tool for personal development and productivity.

The Scrum Team: One Person, Different Hats

In Personal Scrum, the Scrum Team is uniquely composed of just one person who assumes multiple roles, each with distinct responsibilities and perspectives. This approach requires an intentional consideration of different facets of task management and personal development, embodying the roles of Product Owner, Scrum Master, and Developer. It is essential to systematically approach these roles to balance vision and goals, process, and development effectively.

1. The Product Owner – Vision and Goals:

  • In this role, you are responsible for defining the vision and setting the goals for what you want to achieve. This involves identifying tasks, prioritizing them based on their value and urgency, and continuously refining your personal backlog.
  • As the Product Owner, you must keep the big picture in mind, ensuring that the tasks you select align with your long-term objectives and personal values.

2. The Scrum Master – Process:

  • Wearing the hat of the Scrum Master, your focus shifts to the process. This role involves organizing your work approach, ensuring that the Scrum framework is adapted effectively to your personal context.
  • The Scrum Master in you is responsible for identifying and removing impediments, facilitating the smooth execution of tasks, and making adjustments to improve efficiency and efficacy.

3. The Developer – Development and Execution:

  • As the Developer, you are in the trenches, doing the actual work. This role is all about task execution and applying skills to complete the items in your Sprint Backlog.
  • The Developer’s focus is on productivity and quality, ensuring that the work done contributes effectively to your Sprint and overall goals.

Balancing the Roles:

  • Success in Personal Scrum comes from the ability to seamlessly transition between these roles. It requires a disciplined approach to periodically step back and evaluate your work from these different perspectives.
  • Regularly scheduled reviews, such as Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum (even if brief and self-conducted), Sprint reviews, and Retrospectives, are crucial. These events allow you to shift roles, review your progress, and plan for continuous improvement.
  • This multifaceted approach ensures that you are not just focused on getting tasks done but are also continuously aligning your actions with your broader goals, optimizing your processes, and adapting to changes and new insights.

In conclusion, Personal Scrum as One Person, Different Hats is a holistic approach to personal productivity and self-improvement. It requires you to be mindful of your various roles and responsibilities, ensuring that vision, process, and development are given equal and intentional consideration.

Scrum Events in Personal Scrum

In Personal Scrum, Scrum Events are adapted to serve the purpose of self-reflection and intentional role-switching, rather than team coordination. These events are conducted as needed, based on personal workflow and requirements, providing structured opportunities to assess progress, plan work, and switch between the roles of Product Owner, Scrum Master, and Developer.

1. Sprint Planning:

  • Purpose: To plan the work for the upcoming Sprint. As the Product Owner, you define what goals you aim to achieve. Then, as the Developer, you determine how these goals will be accomplished.
  • Frequency: Typically done at the start of a Sprint (e.g., weekly, bi-weekly).
  • Process: Review your personal backlog, select priority items, and break them down into actionable tasks.

2. Daily Scrum:

  • Purpose: A daily check-in to assess progress and plan the day. This event is crucial for maintaining focus and adapting as needed.
  • Frequency: Daily, often at the start of the day.
  • Process: Briefly review what was accomplished the previous day, what is planned for today, and identify any impediments. This helps in transitioning between the Scrum Master role (identifying impediments) and the Developer role (executing tasks).

3. Sprint Review:

  • Purpose: To review the work completed during the Sprint and assess how it aligns with your goals. This is a time for the Product Owner within you to evaluate the increment against your objectives.
  • Frequency: At the end of each Sprint.
  • Process: Reflect on what was completed, what wasn’t, and why. This review can lead to adjustments in your backlog or a reevaluation of your goals.

4. Sprint Retrospective:

  • Purpose: To reflect on the process and identify areas for improvement. As the Scrum Master, focus on how you can enhance your personal Scrum process.
  • Frequency: At the end of each Sprint, following the Sprint Review.
  • Process: Reflect on what went well, what challenges were faced, and what can be done differently in the next Sprint for a more effective process.

5. Backlog Refinement:

In traditional Scrum, Backlog Refinement is not an event. It is an activity that happens as often as is needed. In Personal Scrum, we have adopted Backlog Refinement as an event given the importance of taking time to look ahead and ensure you understand the problems to be solved in a way as to efficiently and effectively work on them when they are committed into your working Sprint.

  • Purpose: To update and refine the personal backlog, ensuring that it remains relevant and prioritized.
  • Frequency: As needed, often midway through the Sprint or during Sprint Planning.
  • Process: As the Product Owner, review and prioritize your backlog items, ensuring they align with your current goals and circumstances.

These events in Personal Scrum are not just about task management; they are opportunities to switch between different mindsets and roles. This transition is essential for balanced personal development, ensuring that you not only work efficiently but also work towards meaningful and well-aligned goals. Remember, the flexibility of these events in Personal Scrum allows them to be adapted to fit your personal needs and lifestyle.

Sprint Duration in Personal Scrum

In Personal Scrum, the concept of Sprints is adapted to suit individual workflows and lifestyles, with a specific emphasis on work-life balance. While traditional Scrum Sprints can extend up to a month, Personal Scrum intentionally limits Sprint duration to a maximum of one week. This shorter Sprint cycle is designed to maintain a steady rhythm of work and reflection, allowing for quicker adjustments and more immediate feedback on personal tasks and goals.

Key Characteristics of Weekly Sprints in Personal Scrum:

  1. Focused Work Period: Each Sprint lasts one week, providing a manageable timeframe to concentrate on selected tasks without becoming overwhelmed.
  2. Regular Reset: The end of each Sprint offers a natural breakpoint for review and planning. This regular reset helps in maintaining clarity and focus, preventing the buildup of fatigue or task saturation.
  3. Weekend Breaks: In Personal Scrum, there is a strong emphasis on taking weekends off as a time to rest, rejuvenate, and engage in non-work-related activities. This break is crucial for maintaining a healthy balance and ensuring you stay refreshed and motivated.
  4. Enhanced Flexibility: Shorter Sprints offer the flexibility to rapidly adapt to changing personal circumstances, priorities, or interests.
  5. Continuous Improvement: With weekly Sprints, you have more frequent opportunities for retrospection and refinement of your personal processes and methods.

Implementing Weekly Sprints:

  • Sprint Planning: At the beginning of the week, allocate time to plan your Sprint. Decide on the key tasks and goals to focus on, bearing in mind your capacity and personal commitments.
  • Daily Scrum: Each day, take a few minutes to review your progress and adjust your plan as needed.
  • Sprint Review and Retrospective: At the end of the week, review your achievements and challenges. Reflect on your workflow, productivity, and personal well-being, and consider adjustments for the next Sprint.
  • Rest and Recharge: Dedicate the weekend to rest, hobbies, social activities, or simply being human. This break is essential for maintaining mental and emotional well-being.

By adopting weekly Sprints and embracing regular breaks, Personal Scrum becomes a sustainable and humane approach to personal productivity, aligning with the needs and well-being of the individual.

The Three Artifacts in Personal Scrum

In Personal Scrum, the three Scrum artifacts – Product Backlog, Sprint Backlog, and Product Increment – are tailored to fit an individual’s varied responsibilities and goals across different areas of life, such as work, family, hobbies, etc. These artifacts are key to organizing and tracking progress in a personal context.

1. Personal Product Backlog:

  • This is a dynamic list of all the tasks, goals, and projects you plan to undertake. It’s broader than just professional work, encompassing personal development, family responsibilities, hobbies, and other life aspects.
  • Managing the Backlog: Regularly update and prioritize this list to reflect changing needs and priorities. It should be a living document that guides your overall direction.

2. Sprint Backlog:

  • The Sprint Backlog consists of a subset of items from the Product Backlog that you commit to addressing in the upcoming Sprint. Given the limited duration of a Sprint (one week), it’s crucial to be realistic about what can be achieved.
  • Selecting Tasks: Choose a mix of tasks that balance various areas of your life, ensuring that each aspect receives attention and progress.

3. Product Increment:

  • In Personal Scrum, the Product Increment is the sum of work accomplished during the Sprint. Unlike in team-based Scrum, where a Product Increment is a potentially shippable product, in Personal Scrum, it represents the completion of tasks across your spectrum of responsibilities.
  • Reflecting on the Increment: At the end of each Sprint, review what you’ve completed. The “product” is the tangible outcome of your efforts in all areas of responsibility – work completed, steps taken towards personal goals, time spent with family, progress in hobbies, etc.

Feedback and Adaptation:

  • Sprint Review for Feedback: During the Sprint Review, present the outcomes of your sprint to yourself or, if applicable, to those who can provide valuable feedback, such as family members, mentors, or close friends. This feedback is crucial for ensuring that your efforts align with your overall life goals and responsibilities.
  • Adapting to Feedback: Use the insights gained from this feedback to adapt and reprioritize your Personal Product Backlog for future Sprints.

By effectively managing these three artifacts, you can maintain a clear view of your commitments and achievements, ensuring that your efforts are balanced and aligned with your overall life objectives. The adaptability of Personal Scrum allows you to modify these artifacts as needed to fit your unique circumstances and responsibilities.

End Note for Personal Scrum Guide

Personal Scrum, as presented in this Guide, is a flexible adaptation of the Scrum framework for individual use. This guide is freely offered to assist anyone interested in applying Scrum principles to their personal life. While Personal Scrum is inspired by the core framework of Scrum, it is tailored to meet the unique demands and challenges of personal task management and self-improvement. As such, it maintains the spirit of Scrum but adapts its application to a personal context.


People The development of Personal Scrum is deeply indebted to the foundational work of Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber, the co-creators of Scrum. Their pioneering work in the field of agile methodologies has been instrumental in shaping the principles and practices adapted in this guide. The concept of Personal Scrum extends their vision by applying it to individual productivity and personal growth.

The creation of this Personal Scrum Guide also owes gratitude to the countless individuals who have explored and shared ways to apply agile methodologies in personal contexts. Their insights and experiences have been invaluable in shaping the principles outlined herein.

Personal Scrum Guide History The idea of Personal Scrum arose from the growing interest in applying Scrum principles outside of traditional team-based environments. It synthesizes the lessons learned from the application of Scrum in professional settings with the unique challenges and opportunities encountered in personal development.

This guide is a testament to the versatility of Scrum and its principles. It represents an ongoing effort to adapt and apply these principles in innovative ways, beyond their origins in software development.

To honor the origins of Scrum and its foundational figures, we acknowledge Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwaber for their pioneering work. Their creation has not only revolutionized team productivity in the workplace but has also provided a framework adaptable enough to enhance individual lives.

While Personal Scrum adapts Scrum for individual use, it is built on the same foundation of empiricism, self-organization, and continuous improvement that characterizes the original Scrum framework. We hope that this guide serves as a useful tool for those seeking to apply these principles in their personal lives.

© 2023 Chris Sims. This publication is offered for license under the Attribution Share-Alike license of Creative Commons, accessible at and also described in summary form at By utilizing this Personal Scrum Guide, you acknowledge and agree that you have read and agree to be bound by the terms of the Attribution Share-Alike license of Creative Commons.


Embracing Radical Pragmatism with Personal Scrum: Do What Works

Personal Scrum’s Radical Pragmatism means reshaping Scrum’s core principles to meet your personal needs and lifestyle. It’s not about sticking to rigid structures or cookie-cutter solutions. Instead, it’s about finding your unique Scrum rhythm – one that resonates with your lifestyle and goals.


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