Managing time and productivity for a product manager is far from simple. Given that you deal with so many stakeholders and are essentially running a mini-organization within your company, managing your productivity without a structure or the right tools can get overwhelming, especially if you want to do it right.
So in this blog post, we will look at how you can improve your productivity and, more importantly, maintain it for the long term.
Follow the 2-minute rule
Unnecessary contemplation is a common trait among product managers. While necessary, excessive contemplation over things that don't deserve it is not a healthy practice.
So the 2-minute rule can come in handy in many cases you deal with daily. The rule is pretty simple; if it takes less than 2-minutes to do something, do it without contemplating.
You'll be surprised how effectively this method opens up time and opportunities on your calendar, thereby reducing unnecessary cognitive load.
Prepare for the day ahead of time
One of the worst habits you can develop as a product manager is going into your day unprepared. This is like trying to strategize how to get to the shore while struggling to keep yourself afloat.
The best time to prepare for the day ahead is the night before, and the process need not necessarily be complicated.
Open an app like Routine and get the pages section to list all the tasks you have on your plate. Once you have the list, sort them based on priority and then go ahead and block time for the most important tasks on your Routine calendar.
Do, delegate, defer or discard.
While you are preparing for your day tomorrow, it is important to prioritize your task list. You can do that with a simple 4D method to categorize tasks into four buckets.
- Do - Important task, and you are the best person to do it, so put it on your calendar.
- Delegate - Important task, but you are not the best equipped to do it, so find someone to delegate it.
- Defer - Important task, but it is not the right time, so you defer it for later consideration. On the Routine Planner, you could add it to a batch.
- Discard - Unimportant task that might not give the minimum expected ROI, so you discard it to free up time.
Use a third-person perspective
When you get requests and feedback from all corners, it is easy to buy into the arguments and perspectives of anyone. So it would help to take a step back and analyze the status quo from a third-person's perspective.
If a third person looked at your work queue, how would they best go about handling them? Is everything you deem necessary actually so, if you step away from the task? What biases currently obstruct you from having an objective view of your workload? All these questions can be answered using this method.
Try the Ivy Lee method
List the top six most important tasks and execute them in chronological order without juggling different tasks simultaneously. For the average product manager, the clarity single-tasking brings is valuable and can help them become more productive.
Ideally with the Ivy Lee Method, you list your tasks the night before so that you go into the day knowing what to do. You can take it further and block time for the first task on your list on the Routine calendar.
Check for alignment with your goals
If you find yourself not working on tasks that align with your long-term goals, then it is likely that you are not being very productive.
As a product manager, you must regularly review your tasks-goal alignment. The best way to go about this would be to set up a recurring event on your calendar and note down the insights you come up with during the review.
If a task isn't aligned with your goals, consider discarding it or at the very least deferring it to a time when it makes more sense.
Get used to regular engagement and feedback
Unplanned feedback is inevitable when you are a product manager, but there are ways that you can manage the frequency and intensity of the feedback.
The way to do it is by creating engagement slots in your calendar with stakeholders who can offer you their thoughts and feedback. By streamlining it and putting it into a process, you can reduce the frequency of people constantly coming at you with feedback when you are not ready to process it.
Become comfortable with saying "no"
When you remove/reduce useless or zero-value events from your calendar, you invite opportunities for high-value events to take their place.
And one of the best ways to do it is by saying "no" to requests that do not add value. A lot of times FOMO makes us say "yes" to things that are nothing more than distractions to our actual goal.
A good rule to work with is having "no" as your default answer, and the only way to reverse it should be when there is ample value that can be created by taking something on.
Give credit where it is due
This might seem like something out of a people manager's handbook, but it also applies to being a productive and efficient product manager.
When you consistently give credit where it is due, you give people an incentive to work efficiently for you and respect your deadlines.
Therefore when your deadlines are reliable, it makes managing your time and schedules easier as opposed to Schrödinger's cat situation anytime there is a task you need to be done.
So those are ways you can become an effective and productive product manager. We are reasonably confident you'll be better at your job by putting these simple yet effective tips into practice.
What are your thoughts on these tips? Please share your feedback. Thanks for reading.