What does a product manager do each day?
Product managers are versatile. Ask three different product managers to describe their day and you get three different answers. From strategic planning to go-to-market launches, you manage everything that must be done to build, ship, and maintain the product. Each day is dynamic in its own way, which is part of what makes the work so exciting.
Product management roles vary by company and product type too. However, all product managers work at the intersection of business, engineering, and design. So you need to find a balance across all the work you do to support the product and move the business forward.
Aspiring product managers might be curious about what the daily life of a product manager looks like. And if you are currently in the role, you can set yourself up for an even more successful day. How should you be spending the majority of your time? How can you stay fresh on what is happening in the market while also focusing on detailed feature requirements? What more should you be doing to keep stakeholders informed of upcoming product plans?
Product managers are in a unique position to look out across the organization and help every team contribute to the product's success. You can apply that thinking to prioritizing your daily work as well. Sharpen your understanding of which challenges and areas of focus deserve your attention — so you can move closer to achieving longer-term goals.
Areas of focus for a product manager
There truly is no typical day in the life of a product manager. But there are core responsibilities of product leadership that you are held accountable for — such as strategy, research, roadmapping, and product performance. Carve out time for the activities in the table below to make progress each week. Of course, you are not going to do each of these every week. But you should identify the areas where you have gaps or opportunities to strengthen productivity and effectiveness.
Know what you aim to achieve before you start building. This includes defining the following:
Keep current on customer research and what is happening in the market. This includes:
Establish an idea management process to collect, organize, and evaluate new requests and feedback. Concentrate on the following:
Learn your customers' needs and challenges by meeting with them directly. Participate in the following:
Product planning and development
Determine the direction of the product. This requires building, maintaining, and collaborating on the following:
Reinforce product messages and customer success. Prioritize the following:
Build and review reports on product performance. Aim to better understand the following:
How to plan your day as a product manager
Did this list of responsibilities make your head spin? Maybe you feel pulled in too many directions. There is no one "right" way to work as a product manager but it can be helpful to plan your time intentionally. It will take some experimentation to find what works best for you.
Some product managers allocate certain days of the week for meetings and others for research or ideation. It may be helpful to have a standing time each week for the product team to review new customer ideas or discuss KPIs. You may also want to spend a few minutes at the end of each day planning and prioritizing work for the next.
Here a few tips to help you organize your day:
Establish routines: Take some of the guesswork out of your day where possible. Perhaps you enjoy starting each morning by reviewing emails or reading an industry newsfeed. Maybe mid-week is a perfect time to review and update the roadmap in advance of a product team meeting. Friday afternoons could be reserved for creative problem-solving or ideation. Create patterns that work for you.
Address the most important needs first: Product managers receive lots of urgent requests. Identify what actually requires immediate attention and address those items first. This includes business-critical or customer-facing issues, such as a critical bug that needs to be escalated to engineering or a resource constraint that threatens a delivery date.
Be smart about meetings: One of the quickest ways to eat up your day is by saying "yes" to every meeting. Each team wants your time and expertise — this is a good thing. Ask for an agenda in advance and make sure you understand what is needed of you. Consolidate or shorten meetings if possible — leave blocks of time in your schedule for concentrated work.
Get organized: You cannot manage it all without a purpose-built roadmapping tool. Set product strategy, define product plans, organize features, and manage tasks all in one place — so you can stop wrangling disjointed spreadsheets and chasing the team down for progress updates.
The My work page in Aha! Roadmaps displays an individual's detailed work — from initiatives to single tasks.
Daily and weekly product manager meetings
Revisit your meeting schedule. Is there an agenda, clear goals, and action items for the team? Is each participant clear on why they are attending and what is expected of them? Revisit your current meetings and identify ways to improve them.
Typically, product managers will meet daily, weekly, or monthly with the following teams:
Product team: Plan upcoming releases, curate new ideas, define features, and review KPIs.
Engineering team: Review the progress of key features and plan sprints.
Executive team: Share high-level progress towards goals and initiatives.
Marketing team: Collaborate on buyer personas, product messaging, and upcoming launches.
Sales and support teams: Review customer requests and familiarize the team with new features.
You are responsible for defining your optimal day. Think holistically about your role and how you can bring the most value to the organization and your customers. It is a privilege to be responsible for the product. While every day is busy, that is also what makes the job so dynamic. Keep pushing to get meaningful work done.