This week’s blog post is brought to you by a member of our coworking community, Richard Chen, co-founder of Product Gym. Rich has an uncanny ability to prepare job seekers for top-tier product management interviews. Once you get the job, he continues the coaching with tips for how to thrive in the position. This week Rich took over our blog. He’s spilling insights into the essential life hack. Guess what is the number one life hack he swears is the key to success? The answer: Time Management.
INTRODUCING TIME MANAGEMENT TRICKS BY RICHARD CHEN, FOUNDER OF PRODUCT GYM.
For product managers, the biggest challenge is not innovation, it’s time management.
A new message on Slack, constant email alerts, clients dropping in unannounced, just to a name a few examples of daily distractions. When it comes to menial operational tasks, these can really add up, taking up almost 95% of your day if the scales before a process is in place.
The problem: Menial but time-consuming tasks are usually operational based – they happen in real-time and are really important, but they won’t grow your bottom line. So you’re faced with the challenge of how to focus more on building revenue and less on “putting out fires”.
The common mistake is to embrace the startup grind approach. This approach is a quick fix, thinking that harder and longer days equate to success. In reality, what ends up happening is fodder for comedy shows. Long days of “doing it all” change your attitude from fresh and perky to sour, cranky, unwilling to tackle the mundane. You may try finding zen by hiding in the Conference Room, only to be interrupted by Milton from Office Space looking for his stapler, or Sheila from legal bombarding you with questions. The next quick fix is trying the workaholic approach, opting to work 24/7. You start bringing your laptop with you everywhere you go – on weekends, on the subway even in bed, you’ve got the laptop jones. The thing is though, the wear and tear will burn you out, which undermines innovation. Longer hours are not the solution unless the goal is to burnout, and to burnout quickly; it’s important to take time to unplug and refresh.
Here’s how to avoid learning the lesson the hard way – invest in time management. A Product Manager’s biggest asset is the ability to create and innovate, so it’s important to protect this asset by balancing your time.
Step 1: Finding the Right Solution
Our favorite time management solution is Process Street, and there are many other options to choose from as well. Here are a few of our favorite tricks for creating a workflow process to free up your time.
The training challenge: As you may know from experience, a common mistake when training someone on your team is to have them shadow you as the only form of training, or to talk at them about details that need to be handled. This initial training could take 30 minutes or so, plus additional time is needed for follow-up questions and the margin of error that comes with having a new-bee takeover the work. Some managers give up on training altogether and continue to handle all the tasks, which does not solve your big-picture problem of mitigating daily tasks to focus on scaling the business.
Using a workflow management system is the game changer – you can create a centralized database for operating procedures which is essentially a detailed checklist of every task. Yes, this this initiative may seem like common sense, but how to create the database is the next challenge.
Step 2: Implementing the Solution
The difficulty: To be honest, creating standard operating procedures is incedibly cumbersome when done manually. It takes time to formulate and type it all. Soon enough, you’re spending the entire day in a documenting/dating entry role – which can also start to break your spirit.
The life-hack: Skip the manual entry and manual database creation. Instead, record your screen! We recommend Quicktime on a mac, or a similar recording service for PC users service. Because creating the checklist is a detail-oriented step – narrate what it is that you are doing, in meticulous detail. It will save you time and energy in the long run.
Your team will appreciate the video training as well. People are visual learners. A video helps them seamlessly follow along with the procedure, and it allows them to OWN the learning process. They are in charge of taking their own notes from the video, which they’ll do in a way they understand. Each team member has a checklist that they made, and that they actually believe in!
Step 3: Measuring the Impact
Referring back to our Process Street example, it’s important to use a workflow management tool like this as a means of centralizing the database. Once the tasks have been documented and organized by category, you can assign the tasks. Let go of micro-managing, delegate down the hieracrchy!
Now you can spend your time where it will really make a difference, growing and scaling your business. Think of workflow management as revenue generating activities that enable your business to generate more revenue.
In fact, the very definition of scaling a business , an organization, and even a team for that matter, is the ability to scale responsibilities down the hierarchy or outsourced to other people. Delegate the distracting yet real-time tasks to your team is the first step to success! Now it’s time for you. Spend your time doing only the things no one else but you can do and that are the most important for revenue growth.
To learn more tips from members of our coworking space community email firstname.lastname@example.org.