As a product manager, you have a broad range of responsibilities and have many places where you can become the bottleneck for a whole team or project.
Your productivity is a vital tool in keeping everything moving. Even more so, your ability to prioritize effectively.
If you’re getting through 100 things a day, but the 3 most important things are always left incomplete — you’re not being productive.
I’d recommend carefully thinking about what you want to do each week and then what you want to do each day.
Every Monday morning, I fill out my top 3 items for the week. I label these in my notebook as WAM – short for Weekly Action Meeting. That title comes from a ritual my boss instilled in me many years ago. We’d have a Weekly Action Meeting with the leadership team every Monday and align on the 3 most important tasks for each of us. Now I write it out in my notebook and a fresh coffee in hand before sharing it at our weekly All Hands stand up with the same goal but a different name.
Your daily prioritization should capture everything you plan to do for the day. Of course, you should be referring back to your WAM list as you prioritize your day. What happens if something changes in your weekly priority? I suggest keeping a note of your revised WAM list as you go so you can reflect on your planning on a monthly or bi-monthly basis.
I’d recommend the 1–3–5 approach for prioritizing your daily to-do list. Choose your #1 most important and must-complete task for the day. Choose 3 medium size tasks. Choose 5 smaller tasks to fill out your day — perfect for when you’re feeling flat after lunch or only have 30 mins between two meetings but want to stay productive.
My other tip for staying productive is to rigorously manage your calendar. Don’t attend meetings that are useless, and block out time for your most important tasks. This serves the dual purpose of reminding you and making it a little more difficult for others to overbook your calendar. I’d recommend color-coding these events so you can see them at a glance. I generally do this as part of my WAM ritual and I personally like to update the events based on the time I actually spend.