Old topic, I know, but still an important one.
What I observe is that the team focus (and efficiency) is very much related to having a clear Sprint Goal.
And how to recognize a good one? The rule I go by is the following:
A good Sprint Goal can be expressed with one short sentence without any “and” words.
So, I like this one very much:
Improve our search.
That should make every team member think about how the task they focus on contribute to this search theme.
But the life is never so simple.
So, this sprint we focus on search but we also need to fix/improve X & Y in a completely different area, and also we should start working on A so that in the next sprint we can do B.
Hmm…. I guess this is kind of normal for every team (and even more frequent as your team grows and the applications they work on also grow). Still, I strongly believe this doesn’t help the team to reach their maximum productivity.
Focus is the key.
P.S. There is lot of good articles about the Sprint Goal so have a look at them.