7 Product Managers Share Their Productivity Tips
If you could alter how your brain works, what would you change? My guess is that many product managers would manifest the power to multitask even faster. (Barring the ability to read customers' minds.) Unfortunately, none of us can — poof! — make magic happen. But research proves that we can rewire our brains to incorporate new learnings. When we train ourselves to adopt more efficient practices, we can hack our way to better productivity.
You do not need supernatural abilities to be more productive. Sometimes it just takes reflecting on what you are doing now and embracing something new.
Product managers are multi-faceted. You have to think big while delivering on the details — steering strategy down to feature definition in order to guide the success of the product. And you sit at the center of a cross-functional product team. Having influence demands the flexibility to balance priorities and personalities so you can achieve more together.
It is not uncommon to feel stretched — some days will be gratifying while others are overwhelming. Even the best find it challenging to manage every request and task that comes through. Of course, it helps to find a daily routine and to trim work based on whether it aligns with goals.
The adage goes that you do not need to work faster, only smarter. Identify how you can create extra space in your day to focus on the most meaningful work — whether that means declining a meeting or setting aside 10 minutes to review objectives. When you minimize to-do's that are wasteful, you create an opportunity to make today better than yesterday.
It can be useful to learn what works for others — so I asked Aha! experts to share their productivity tips. These folks represent members of our product and customer teams — who know Aha! software well and use it every day. These tips are most relevant if you are an Aha! user, but I suspect you might find some nuggets of wisdom either way.
Here is what they had to say:
"As much as you might like to, you cannot do everything. Product managers should delegate tasks — while avoiding unnecessary meetings or back-and-forths. Look for efficient ways to share the workload. I like assigning to-dos or submitting work requests to get right to the heart of what I need from my team." — James Harris, Strategic Success
"Product managers are communication hubs. Updates are always streaming in from various teams. Experiment with how you can reduce the noise. Personally, I like to filter which notifications I receive so that the most important updates are surfaced the fastest — and it is clear where I need to respond." — Todd Meyer, Customer Success
"Every team manages their work and time differently — which makes reliable integrations a necessity. Seek out tools that keep teams connected and offer two-way integration. Even better if they are within the same product suite for a completely unified environment. My personal favorite integrations are automatic status updates for consistency as work moves from product to design to engineering." — Jeff Tucker, Product Management
"Product managers have to be especially intentional with their time. Create a personal agenda that lists your goals, follow-up items, meetings, and tasks. Make sure the first thing on the list is the most important task to complete today. And if the items are too big to tackle at once, break them up into bite-sized chunks." — Nathaniel Collum, Product Management
"When you are asked what is coming next for your product, your answer probably varies depending on your audience. For that reason, I like to save multiple versions of my roadmap. For example, if you have an internal version with target dates for delivery, save a separate one for customers without firm dates in case things slip. Having both lets me pivot quickly and share what is relevant. That is a huge time-saver!" — Chris Quigley, Product Success
"As a product manager, you get feature requests from all directions — leadership, peers, and customers. Prioritizing these requests can be time-consuming. It helps to have a system. I use a scorecard to evaluate strategic alignment, customer or business impact, effort, and even product value. This helps with quick decisions and clarity for stakeholders. I also rank features by score to ensure we deliver a lovable product." — Julie Price, Product Management
"Standardization makes life easier and drives a shared understanding of what you want to achieve. Templates are great for this. I use them for meeting notes, releases, even roadmaps. They help you focus on what needs to get done and what you need to communicate in less time. And since teams always change, templates help maintain continuity when onboarding new teammates." — Jeanette Resnikoff, Product Success
Time management is a stimulus for achievement. As a bonus, it will make you more confident in your role over time.
I hope these tips inspire you — or at least give you one idea that you can implement right now. If you are feeling particularly down about performance or productivity, sometimes the best you can do is reset. Go for a run, pet your dog, and get back in tune with what you care about. Reflection (and refreshment) might be the best productivity tip of all.
How do you find ways to save time in your day?
Product managers really, really love our software — find out why.