Posted by: Ivan lybbert | September 25, 2009

Product Management A.D.D.?

ADD

Admit it.  You think you have A.D.D. don’t you!  I know I did.  A couple of years ago, I even bought this t-shirt in honor of my inability to focus on any singular task at a time.  But really, it was just “work-induced A.D.D.”  As a Product Manager, you spin a lot of plates, and everyone wants some of your time!  How could I get anything done with all of the distractions?  It wasn’t my fault, it was the job’s!  Right?

Sorry chief.  Not true!

There are ways to gain control of your crazy schedule and tasks without “folding space” (who can name that movie?).  These are some that work for me:

Turn off email (and other related noise) – Just trust me!  You can do it!  Try to unplug for a few hours every day.  You’ll love it!  I know this may feel a little counterintuitive, but if email drives your task list, then you’re giving everyone else control over your schedule.  Don’t get me wrong, I love email.  But I’m in charge, not Outlook.  In the past, I’ve even specified in my email signature what times of the day I check my email so they don’t wig out when I don’t respond in five minutes (don’t worry, if it’s an emergency, they’ll call you!).  This also goes for other things that can get noisy like Twitter.  Just because someone makes a living off sending Twitter updates, doesn’t mean you make a living off reading them in real time.  I get to all of them eventually, but when my schedule permits.

Don’t allow the Hallway Dump – Have you walked through the hallway at work when someone stops you and asks, “Can you send me the updated price list again?”  Don’t let them do it!  Deal with it immediately (tell them where they can find it), or have them send an email to request it properly.  If you say “yes” to those requests, you may temporarily feel the sensation of being “the helpful person” your colleagues can rely on.  But if you allow people to hallway dump on you regularly, chances are you’ll forget. Then you’ll become known as “the ineffectual person”.

Too many meetings?  Then communicate better! – At one point in my career, I had an average of forty meetings a week.  Ugh!  And while I might have had a sense of being a rock star, it was bogus.  The truth is I wasn’t communicating what I knew effectively.  People were asking the same questions in nearly every meeting! Questions like, “What’s in the next release?” and “Can you explain that feature?” Once I figured out a better communication medium than my pie hole, I found that my meeting invitations went down.  Additionally, I would never accept a meeting unless I got on the phone with the organizer and had them explain to me why I needed to be there.  Many times I could answer their question over the phone and save myself a half hour.

Of course, don’t forget proven techniques such as blocking time on your schedule for yourself and working from home one day a week. Many Product Managers already do these because they really work!

OK, your turn.  What do you do to reduce the “work-induced A.D.D.” moments in your chaotic (yet very rewarding), Product Management life?

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Responses

  1. M-O-O-N spells Dune! Tho’ the book(s) were way better than the movies (Lynch, Sci-Fi channel).


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