10 Productivity Hacks For Product Managers

Product managers are highly motivated individuals. Getting more things done in less time is the name of the game. And why not. You’ve to spend countless hours talking to users, documenting requirements, planning roadmaps, collaborating with development teams, and communicating with key stakeholders throughout the process.

Most PMs who are excellent at their work make it look easy. They are productive in the sense that they get essential things done. However, there are productivity hacks that could make them hyper-productive. We’ll be sharing various productivity hacks that will make you a better product manager and a team player.

1. Follow the 4 D’s rule

Do it — Based on the following situations, you can decide whether a task needs your instant attention:

  • How long will it take you to finish? If it takes less than 2 minutes, go ahead and do it.
  • Is it possible for someone else to do it well? If so, delegate the task.
  • Is it a high priority? If not, defer it. Is it purely for work? If yes, delete it.

Sidenote: You can take care of the Quick or urgent tasks based on priority. Because if you delay them, the tasks will pile up, and things will get cluttered.

Delegate it — Delegating is a great way to deal with the task. The only risk involved is whether someone is capable of doing it equally well. However, If you offer the responsibility and trust your team, your juniors will add extra value and maybe a different perspective. You can outsource the task to your peers who would report to you or automate the task. Sometimes you might now have the resources to offer the job internally. In that case, you can hire people from freelancing websites like UpWork and Fiverr.

Defer it — It’s generally not a good idea to put things off, but there are a few valid reasons to do so. Delaying lower priority tasks in favor of higher priority ones is possible. And we all know that even high-priority items require input from other teams or approval from executives before they can be moved forward in a positive direction. As long as you keep track of what you’ve put on hold and when you’ve put it off, it makes sense.

Delete it — One of the most helpful productivity hacks is avoiding every task, which kills time. Therefore, you can delete these tasks from your system. Unfortunately, sometimes you’ll have to delete things that seem important at first glance but don’t make sense after further examination. These tasks can be meetings, feature ideas, or something that doesn’t help you progress. So make sure that every job you do has significance and they allow you to move forward.

2. Keep your ‘to-do’ moving

However, make sure that they don’t end being ideas and inspirations only. You also need to use them and execute them. What’s the purpose of recording a picture if you never use it?

These ideas are just taking more space. And soon enough, things get more cluttered. Therefore, separate your wheat from the chaff. Keep your thoughts flowing. Once you record something, make sure you act upon it.

3. Follow the 2-minute rule

You might as well put these tasks on your to-do, but then you’d have more things to worry about. These tasks are simple and would hardly take any time, but you create more burdens for the future when you skip them.

Therefore, it’s one of the most straightforward productivity hacks. These few minutes don’t seem so bad right now, but they add up if you ignore them. They not only take up physical space on your task list, but they also make your brain foggier as you worry about having more things to do. So make sure you cross these items off your list as soon as they arrive. Then, you’d be more focused on the most critical tasks.

4. Avoid multitasking

So, if you think you shouldn’t devote all of your time to one task because you’re abandoning everything else, you’re probably wrong. It is not a good idea to switch between tasks. You’ll lose focus, require more brainpower, and make more mistakes.

Prioritize your tasks instead. To choose the most important one, apply the 4 D’s rule. Then devote all of your attention to that specific task. You’ll notice that you’re completing more jobs at a faster pace. So increasing productivity while decreasing error is a pretty great idea.

5. Don’t isolate yourself

When you communicate or chit-chat more frequently, you help others better understand the product. In addition, you’ll get a fresh perspective, better iterating ideas, and other feedback that you sometimes don’t see.

Also, we desire human interaction. There are numerous advantages. You exchange ideas, see different sides of the story, avoid mistakes, and so on. Talk to people who aren’t directly involved in a project to see how they react. You’ll feel rejuvenated, and you might come up with new solutions to problems. It’s a simple hack, but it will undoubtedly increase your productivity.

6. Don’t store ideas

7. It’s ok to say no

It’s your responsibility as a product manager to define the product roadmap based on the company’s ultimate long-term goals. And when these interesting demands don’t align with the company’s vision, you should step up and choose not to work on these new features.

Accepting new features and demands also consumes many resources, and when you choose everything, you desire nothing. Meaning, you won’t be able to work on the essential features.

So it’s your job to say no — it’s crucial. If you’re going to solve a customer’s problem, you’ll need constant filtering, aggregation, and distillation of ideas to get to the core of the problem. As a PM, you must ruthlessly slash everything else to return on the product roadmap and save your time.

8. Take regular breaks

9. Follow the MAT (Milestones, Assumptions, Tasks) framework

Now, To meet your milestones on time, you’ll need to make assumptions about how quickly you’ll need to grow, how many people you’ll need to hire, and how much money you’ll need. Then, determine and delegate the specific tasks you need to complete to fulfill your expectations.

The MAT framework is beneficial for collaborating on large projects by breaking them down into smaller components. Since it’s much easier to start with smaller tasks and goals, ensuring everyone is on the same page gets easier.

10. Timebox method

Timeboxing is a valuable tool, especially if you manage quality assurance and the developer team. For example, assume you’ve discovered a bug and want it fixed. You can ask your developer to work on it a few hours to fix it. And if things don’t work out within that time frame, you can ask him to move on, as it is not worthwhile to devote a few days to this issue.

Originally published at https://zeda.io on October 15, 2021.

Zeda.io aims to make Product Management and Development Simpler & Smarter. We write about Product Management, Product Design, Product Development, and startups.