Are you struggling to “find time” to do something important? Is your calendar so full you can’t find two hours to rub together?
For product folks, having a full calendar and a never-ending to-do list is par for the course. The CARD framework captures the 4 key ways for your to claim back your time and make room for the work you want (and need) to prioritize. If you’re not sure where all your time goes, I recommend conducting a time audit.
Cancel. What can you just stop doing? Look for things you’re doing that aren’t very valuable and should be dropped so you can spend time on more valuable things. You might not find many items for this tactic, but look hard and you could find some meaningful opportunities,
Automate. Is there work you could do once that would reduce the time required to do this work in the future? This could be as simple as creating an email template that you can reuse. It could be using a tool like Zapier to automatically generate and send a report. It could be setting up a workflow in Slack that posts a reminder for everyone to complete a recurring task. Often these items are less about freeing up time and more about freeing up mental cycles.
Reduce. Can you perform this task less often and still get similar results? Do you have a weekly meeting that could become bi-weekly? Could the one-hour meeting become a 30-minute meeting? This is your chance to apply Parkinson’s Law to your advantage. Parkinson’s Law states that a task will expand or contract to fill the time allotted to it. Even in cases where it doesn’t strictly apply, you might be able to spend half the time and get 80% of the result. Your goal is to evaluate that tradeoff and make it accordingly. One caveat here, I’d strongly recommend against anything less than 30 minutes a week spent on 1:1s with each of your direct reports.
Delegate. Should someone else be doing it? Is this task better suited to someone else? That might be because you have more valuable things to do but the work still has to be done. It might be that someone else’s skills would allow them to do the job better or faster. It might be that you don’t enjoy the task and it drains your mental and emotional energy. Delegation doesn’t have to be to someone you manage, it can also be to a peer.