says something to bring the dreaded topic to mind. With the recall comes the recognition that I've been ignoring it.
2. Once you recognize something you're ignoring, acknowledge to yourself why you're ignoring it.
You may have a real reason to ignore the problem, and you need to know what this reason is before you can stop ignoring that problem. I might ignore a problem if I experience any of the following: the problem seems difficult to address and that scares me; by choosing to tackle this problem, I have to deal with someone with whom I find it a pain to work; or I’m too busy with other urgent items.
Once I acknowledge the reason, I can do something about it and make the problem easier to pay attention to. I might find myself asking the following questions: If it sounds hard, how hard is it really? Have I given it deep thought, or am I just reacting to what others have said? Can I get help? If I have to deal with a difficult person, can I reward myself by writing a piece of code I’ve been looking forward to, taking a walk at lunch, or in other such ways?
All in all, I need to remind myself of the difference between urgent and important.
3. Having acknowledged why you’re ignoring the thing, you can now regard it.
If ignoring a problem allows it to grow until it can harm you, then careful regard returns some control to you. You might ask yourself the following questions about your problem: What details do I notice? (Focusing on the details often allows you to temporarily shift away from the scary part.) How is this problem the same or different from similar problems I've seen? Is there anything easy I can do to solve part of the problem? Can I decompose it into simpler parts?
All of these questions lead you to some plan. Even a simple plan is a powerful tool because it provides you a path away from ignoring the problem.
4. Execute your plan.
In the end, just thinking about your problem isn't sufficient, because having thought about it, you could now ignore it again. You need to take action, which can be as small as adding an item to your to-do list or telling some other team member about the problem and how you've been ignoring it. Additionally, if you're lucky enough to have a scrum master or a project manager, you could tell him.
Since you’ve been ignoring this problem, I suggest some action on your part too. For me, that first action is often telling other people what (else) I’m going to do. The implied public promise is usually enough to keep me moving.
In my experience, you often have the chance to dodge the damage ignoring a problem will cause your project if the ignoring stops soon enough. Practice looking for something you’re choosing to leave off your list, and spend just two minutes bringing it into the light. I believe you’ll find that it's a rare problem that can't be mitigated by paying attention.