Organisational mess - Harry's story
In the world of product management, Harry was a legend.
His creativity and technical acumen were the stuff of Silicon Valley legend. Yet, despite his brilliance, Harry had the organisational skills of a hyperactive squirrel with a caffeine addiction.
One spring, Harry was entrusted with an ambitious project: Launch the world's first voice-activated smart refrigerator.
It was a make-or-break moment for the company. And as the team embarked on this journey, Harry's chaotic work style sent them into confusion and missed deadlines.
In the first week, Harry's forgetfulness struck. He missed a critical meeting with the tech team as he'd noted it on the back of a sandwich wrapper.
The tech team sat confused in the conference room. At the same time, Harry happily debated what was better: pickles vs cucumbers with the cafeteria staff.
Every time a senior stakeholder asked Harry for a project update, there was an uncomfortable pause that stretched on for too long.
Even after this delay, Harry struggled to provide an answer, despite frantically scrolling through the notes on his MacBook.
With each passing day, the tension at the company grew.
The team was on the brink of a meltdown. That's when Claire, the company's straight-laced HR manager, stepped in. She realized the genius in Harry's madness and made an unconventional suggestion: Hire a professional organiser for Harry.
Monica, an organisational guru with her colour-coded spreadsheets and strict energy, came in. A wave of calm swept over the office. Monica dove into the commotion and tamed Harry's wild mess. Deadlines were met, meetings attended, and presentations, thankfully, stayed on topic.
Monica's intervention was a game-changer. Months later, the world's first voice-activated smart refrigerator launched to immense success and rave reviews.
Harry's journey from chaotic genius to successful leader became a cherished company story.
It was a reminder that even in the most chaotic mess, a dash of organisation can bring out the best and lead to success.
This humorous tale teaches us that organisational skills are fundamental.
No matter how talented an individual might be, there's potential for confusion, delay, and even failure without proper organisation.
Harmonising these various tasks into a smooth performance is no easy feat - but fear not!
With tips from our experts at dualoop, Alexandra Bendicakova and Wim Oers, we're here to help you strike the right chords with superior organisation. Let’s dive into efficient time management, clear communication, and a smoother workflow.
Mastering the multitasking
The role of a product manager is dynamic, requiring you to gracefully switch from product discovery sessions to data analysis and lengthy meetings.
💡 Expert tip: Use a visual board management tool to overview all tasks and projects, their latest status, and responsibilities, and update them weekly: this will give you clarity and a sense of ownership. Consider using tools like Trello or Notion, as they are a solid choice!
Balancing Daily Tasks
With various tasks coming your way daily, it's difficult not to get overwhelmed and get stuck in paralysis. Or, worse - not even knowing where to start!
💡 Expert tip: The Eisenhower Matrix, a time management tool, can help you sort tasks into four categories - do, schedule, delegate, delete. This method assists in controlling chaos.
Optimising To-Do Lists
Using to-do lists can significantly improve productivity by delivering a clear plan of your tasks. However, product managers have a lot on their plate, with numerous tasks to complete daily, making it challenging to accomplish everything. A helpful tip is prioritising tasks and completing the most important ones first. How?
💡 Expert tip: Consider the Ivy Lee Method. This approach directs you to list and prioritise six essential tasks daily, ensuring you focus on what matters most. Our looper Alexandra makes a note to allocate the most critical tasks at the day's beginning or end. This allows her to focus solely on these tasks without any disturbances!
Productivity is not a switch that can be turned on and off like a button. There are times when it's simply not possible to be productive. However, we all have specific periods when we are more effective. Have you ever felt like working on something late in the evening? It's a sudden burst of inspiration. That’s the moments we’re talking about!
💡 Expert tip: Identify your most productive times by tracking when you have bursts of productivity. You can do this by keeping a journal and noting when you suddenly feel a surge of energy and focus. After a month, review your journal and identify the times when you were the most productive. From there, you can start scheduling important tasks around those times!
Bridging the Communication Gap
Product managers are often the communication nexus between diverse teams.
They often receive numerous questions and updates from colleagues through Slack. However, the constant notifications can be distracting and hinder their ability to concentrate fully on their tasks or provide thoughtful responses.
💡 Expert tip: Implement 'communication sprints' - dedicated daily slots to respond to emails or messages. It ensures you're engaged yet not constantly distracted. A specific time slot for replying to notifications provides peace of mind and prevents guilt from muting them. It's a great way to manage your time efficiently!
Managing meetings strategically
Every piece of information you receive in a meeting is valuable. However, it's common to fall into the mindset of "I'll organise this later" and lose momentum. This can result in forgetting most of the information and returning to scattered and illogical meeting notes, making it difficult to make sense of it at all.
💡 Expert tip: Take notes RIGHT AFTER a meeting and organise them. This may require some practice and discipline, but once it becomes a habit, it will be very beneficial. Our looper, Wim, always dedicates time to organise meeting notes immediately. He even takes it a step further and jots down valuable information he hears during informal conversations by the coffee pot. You can also try the Cornell Note-Taking System to structure your notes, leaving space for cues and summaries.
Communication is one of the biggest struggles of product managers; let’s talk about that!
Effective communication can be challenging, especially when trying to strike the right balance. It's essential to cover relevant topics without overwhelming others. As Alexandra and Wim wisely stated, meeting everyone's communication expectations is difficult. But remember, it's always better to over-communicate than to under-communicate.
💡 Expert tip: Keep your messages concise, straight to the point, and frequent. Use dedicated Slack channels, and make sure your communication always reaches the right stakeholders. Embrace Teresa Torres's "Interview Snapshots" technique to maintain frequent updates and keep everyone informed.
Enhancing Delivery and Troubleshooting
A product manager is responsible for delivering results and solving problems arising during the sprints.
💡 Expert tip: Implement a Kanban board for issue tracking. It's a powerful tool that visually charts your workflow, allowing for efficient problem tracking and resolution.
Leveraging Integrated Tools
There are many great tools. However, it's even better when tools are integrated. That can dramatically increase productivity by simplifying workflows.
💡 Expert tip: Platforms like Microsoft OneNote and To-Do offer automation features that transfer tasks directly from your email to your to-do list, ensuring no task slips through the cracks.
To stay organised, you have to be repetitive and disciplined.
Ultimately, it's about building the correct habits and sticking to them. In a fast-paced product world, focus on what you can control to maintain your sanity and make a positive impact.
While there may be unforeseeable and uncontrollable factors, directing your energy towards what you can control is key. Best of luck!