7/30: Effective Time Management for PMs
Product folks spend a lot of time in meetings, talking to many different stakeholders, and putting out fires large and small. Safe to say, it's not a dull job. But if you don't manage your time right, the job can become overwhelming and eat you alive. So what can you do?
Honestly, you've got to aggressively protect your time.
Here's what I do:
RSVP "No" to any meeting that isn't critically important or adding immediate value. Anything that can be postponed, dealt with later, or simply isn't in your current top 3 priorities, for whatever reason, you should skip. You can always make it up later.
Block off time on your calendar. Some folks like to add focus time at the beginning and end of their day. I prefer to block off several hours in the middle of the day or afternoon, so I can have an uninterrupted stream of consciousness when doing creative work.
Rearrange your calendar. Often you end up with days that drain your energy and reduce your productivity because you jump from one meeting to the next. Personally, I like to move meetings to the morning, because talking to people energizes me, and then do solitary work in the afternoons.
Choose your work hours. Now, this may not be possible with every employer, but the great ones understand that sleep rhythms are different. I'm a night owl, so a later start time means I spend my workday full of energy and enthusiasm. And I politely ask that early morning meetings be rescheduled to a later time.
Routine is super important. I used to sleep late and rush to get to my first meeting early in the morning. Now I make sure I have at least an hour in the morning to myself, which helps ease me into the day. This makes it easier to manage the rest of my day.
Keep strategizing about your time. Your job will change. You will change. Your habits and needs will evolve. Stay conscious of that, and continue to aggressively protect your time. Don't overwork yourself, stop when you're really tired. Managing your energy levels will lead to better time management, which leads to increased energy levels. It's a virtuous cycle.
And you know, take the time to smell the roses, or whatever. Give yourself plenty of respite throughout your day. Take breaks, go for walks, drink water, and take care of yourself.