Product Mgmt for newbies #7 – Prioritise your time, learn to let go.

One of the biggest challenges I had when I moved from engg to Product was this – I started a lot of activities / tasks and couldn’t finish them. This felt bad. Sometimes when I tried, I ended up finishing tasks that were not that important any more. That felt bad again.

Lesson #1

Slowly and painfully, there was no option but to be okay with letting go of half finished tasks. Take a deep breath, let it go and focus on the most important activity.

 

Especially in a role where there are no well defined daily / weekly targets.

As a PM there are a bunch of activities you can potentially do/ get involved in:

  1. Gathering customer feedback.
  2. Converting that feedback into Product solutions/ enhancements.
  3. Discussions with design team on various open design issues w.r.t your product.
  4. Various different kinds of discussions or meetings with the engg team  (
    1. Estimation / feasibility feedback on an upcoming ambitious project.
    2. Backlog grooming
    3. Sprint planning
    4. Daily Standups
    5. Demos
    6. Retrospective meetings.
    7. UAT testing
    8. Clarifications to QA / Dev team members on various on-going activities.
  5. Discussions with different stakeholders on their pain points.
  6. Discussions with your boss(es)  / top mgmt on current issues / future plans
  7. Meeting with Product Marketing / Sales Teams on upcoming partnerships / dealing with competition/ upcoming marketing campaign.
  8. Studying competition/ reading latest consumer reports.
  9. Following tech news for new possibilities and use-cases that could fit your product.
  10. Prioritizing next week / month’s backlog items.
  11. Detailing our requirements for the upcoming sprint.
  12. Program managing cross functional deliveries.
  13. Client/ partner meetings where you are involved as a Product Expert.
  14. Meetings / demos with new vendors who could help you measure your product usage better.
  15. Studying metrics and analytics/ digging for patterns and insights.
  16. and the list is endless..

 

Product Mgmt is not a very well cut-out role, the boundaries are usually blurred, the expectations are not crisp, the control you have is limited. Its extremely easy to slip into doing things which are not going to get you the outcomes your business / product needs.

For you to be making an impact you need to be cognizant of where your time gets spent..

Lesson #2

Spend some time every fortnight / month thinking about what exactly did you accomplish and deliver. Were you satisfied ? Yes – great. No – see where you could have saved your time.

 

Lesson #3

Another habit / trap was to start doing things with which I was comfortable with. Tasks that were easy. I think I still sometimes fall into this trap. Too bad. Not effective. Face the important tasks head on. Don’t be afraid. Go in the unchartered territory & get some results.

 

To summarize:

  1. DO NOT get swept away with the barrage of distractions and requests you get every day / week. Decide to spend your time consciously.
  2. Learn to be be okay with un-finished tasks. Control your urges to finish lower priority tasks and to get addicted to the dopomine high you get on finishing them.
  3. Learn to attack the important tasks even if you have no idea how to do them. Control your urge to do the easy stuff first.
  4. All of the above are hard. But keep trying 🙂

 

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2 thoughts on “Product Mgmt for newbies #7 – Prioritise your time, learn to let go.

  1. Loved the article since i can completely resonate with this.

    Sometime 1 month looks a very long period to plan for, since things eventually change a lot in this timeframe.

    Generally i follow the approach of having a long term roadmap with some high level / broad timelines to achieve them. While the planning to details, i generally do so for a week or so (trying to keep them inline with the long term plan). Also i feel it is important to keep updating the roadmap every 15 days or so if there is a deviation in the product strategy or we uncover something new not thought of before.

    Having said all of this, it is so easy to lose track given so much happening around you 🙂

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