Principles for prioritizing competing work
So many things need to be done. A guide to deciding what to do.
As a software product manager, your job is no walk in the park. You're constantly juggling competing priorities and time requests from different stakeholders. It can be overwhelming, but fear not! There is a method to the madness, and it starts with some guiding principles.
Principle 1 is asking yourself: Is this a high-impact task? Which of the tasks have the highest impact? Where can you create most value? Are they important or just urgent? Refer to the Eisenhower Matrix.
Principle 2 is asking yourself: Does this task bring me closer to my goals? Which one brings me closest? Does it "move the needle"? If not, it may not be worth your time. This is not only about impact, but about direction.
Principle 3 is asking yourself: Are other people dependent on my work? Am I on a critical path? You don't want to be the one holding up progress for the whole team. Consider the dependencies and plan your work accordingly.
Principle 4 is asking yourself for anything you do: Is this task just something that needs to be done, like paperwork, or is it crucial, strategic work. High-effort tasks that require more thought and time should be given higher priority.
I wrote about principles 1 and 4 in my post How to manage tasks as a product manager.
Open communication about trade-offs
Of course, every situation is different, so it's important to have open communication with your peers and stakeholders. Discuss these considerations and the corresponding trade-offs with them. This will help them understand the trade-off situation and create buy-in for your decisions.
Remember, communication and goal-orientation are key.
Prioritize your work based on impact and goals-orientation, consider dependencies and critical paths, and communicate openly with your team. By doing so, you'll be well on your way to success.
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What I read
This is a new section that I introduce with this newsletter. I will list some of the best articles I read on the internet. They may or may not be related to the topic of this article. I will keep a list of the best articles (currently >650) at https://www.digital-product-management.com. Here are three post to start with:
1 on 1 Meeting Questions: Mega list of 1 on 1 meeting questions compiled from a variety of sources.
Cheat Sheet to Document Your Experiments: Cheat sheet on how to document decisions that are based on experiments.
Are You Tracking the Right Metrics?: 8 types of metrics every PM needs to understand. 2 case studies. 5 actionable steps to take as a PM.