Time management is essential for the modern product manager (PM). With distributed teams, complex multitasking, and ever-growing distractions competing for your attention, you can either choose how to prioritize your time, or others will surely make those decisions for you. In this article, product leader Felipe Gasparino gives tips for PMs who want to schedule themselves for success.
Have you ever checked your calendar in the morning and wondered how you would manage to eat lunch or have a break between your meetings? Building and maintaining good products requires high collaboration and involvement in different areas of the product. While having a busy calendar is the nature of collaborative environments, it can get overwhelming, it can start to negatively impact the product, and it can even compromise the moral and mental health of the team.
As products scale and teams expand, it is to be expected that your time spent on internal communication is going to increase. If not managed well this could encourage you to operate in a very reactive mode – putting out fires, sticking to repetitive activities, and getting bogged down in a lot of meetings that might not make the best use of your time. The bottom line is: if you don’t plan your time, someone else will do it for you. So time management is important for PMs to ensure a balance between supporting today’s tasks while making space for proactive and strategic thinking.
Here are some things you can do to help schedule yourself for success.
- Practice rigorous weekly planning
Planning your week or day in advance is a powerful way to ensure you are investing your time wisely. It encourages you to remove noise and to intentionally make time that aligns well with what you want to accomplish for that period. This might be done on a Monday morning, or before you end your work week on a Friday afternoon, or even sometimes on the weekend. How this best fits into your week is up to you. The important thing is to book the time to think and plan accordingly.
- Include Booking for focused time
If you find your calendar fills quickly and you struggle to make time to plan or focus on some tasks, you might want to book time for yourself to focus. Some people find that having one day of the week for focused time is a good strategy for them. Creating an event on the calendar not only helps you to make sure it happens but also shares with your coworkers that you are investing time in those high-value tasks.
- Prioritize your time
An important question when it comes to time management is: How do you decide how to spend your time? When it comes to prioritizing your tasks, it’s important to understand their impact and effort. Discovering what tasks will bring the highest impact at the lowest effort will help you decide how to choose between tasks. Even if the impact or effort is not so well defined, using rough estimates can help you use this great tool to prioritize your time and what part of your product to work on. This is one of many frameworks to prioritize your tasks. Find the one that fits you best and add that to your workflow.
- Embrace asynchronous work
Individuals working asynchronously can maximize their productivity. It’s now easier than ever to collaborate that way, with recent tools and platforms keeping information up-to-date. For many work environments, asynchronous collaboration is essential, given that teams are increasingly more distributed. GitLab has a great article sharing more tips on how to make this work effectively.
- A universal framework for your tasks
If you are a fan of frameworks, keeping all your tasks in one place can be a powerful tool to find the right balance between tasks at work, home, side projects, and other activities in your life, and to help you keep on top of them. There is no one solution that fits all but there are now plenty of Task Management or time management tools available to choose from.
Time is precious. There are only 24 hours in a day and it is our responsibility, both as individuals and as a team, to constantly manage and adjust how we are using our time.
How do you feel about your recent time management? What could you adjust to optimize your time in the future? Do you use any of the techniques mentioned here? Any other tips to share? Please post in the comments, so others can learn from you!
About the speaker
Product-driven, result-oriented tech director, committed to growth and passionate about building tech products that are impactful and amuse its users. Experienced in developing product strategy, leading development & product teams towards product vision, and in directing and managing project implementation.