This work is quite vague, and there aren’t many deadlines for large projects. It’s probably a good idea to speak with customers frequently, but if you don’t, it can take some time to notice. Likewise with market research and a plethora of additional product-related endeavors.
How do you work long hours every day? I am easily sidetracked—far too easily. What advice would you give?
I put in the hours when and where they are needed, not all the time. There are days when it’s twelve hours and days when it’s two. Flexibility is key to my approach to work. I prioritize efficiency and productivity, adapting my schedule to meet the demands of each day. This allows me to maintain a healthy work-life balance while still delivering exceptional results.
My employers (flat rate DX contract) rely on me to perform my duties; therefore, if I’m indolent at the wrong moment, I may really hold up the show and cost them a lot of money. My team’s developers put in long nights and work weekends, so I make sure they always have what they need (most of the time), and anything else can wait until I’m feeling particularly motivated. By prioritizing my tasks and being efficient with my time, I am able to meet the demands of each day without compromising the quality of my work. Additionally, I understand the importance of supporting my team and ensuring they have the necessary resources to succeed, which ultimately contributes to our overall success as a company.
Specify deadlines. Bemoan the lack of accountability in your retro and take action. Establish a structure with others involved. etc. During our retro, it became evident that there is a lack of accountability within the team. To address this issue, we need to establish clear deadlines for each task and ensure that everyone understands their responsibilities. Additionally, it is important to create a structure where team members can regularly check in with each other and provide updates on their progress. By implementing these measures, we can improve accountability and ensure that tasks are completed on time. Let’s set a deadline for implementing these changes within the next two weeks and set a schedule.
To be honest, this is the exact reason I’m hesitant to move from sales engineering to project management. Though, as a SE, you show up to scheduled calls and know your crap, I truly would like to. That is the task. Not in doubt. Sure, there’s always “other stuff,” but the essence is clear-cut. As a project manager, I would be responsible for overseeing the entire project from start to finish, ensuring that all tasks are completed on time and within budget. This role requires strong organizational skills and the ability to effectively communicate and collaborate with various stakeholders. While sales engineering may have its own unique challenges, project management offers a different level of responsibility and the opportunity to see a project through from conception to completion. It would be a new and exciting challenge that I am eager to take on.
Managing a job with ambiguity and few specific deadlines can be challenging, but there are strategies you can use to stay on track and productive. Here are some tips for effectively managing your time and staying focused in such a work environment:
Set Your Own Deadlines: If your job lacks specific deadlines, create your own. Break your work into smaller tasks or projects and set deadlines for each one. This will help you stay accountable and maintain a sense of progress.
Time Blocking: Allocate specific blocks of time in your day for different tasks or activities. For instance, reserve mornings for customer interactions, afternoons for deep work, and some time for market research. Stick to this schedule as closely as possible.
Prioritize Tasks: Identify and prioritize your most important tasks or projects. Focus on high-impact activities that align with your job’s goals and objectives. Use tools like the Eisenhower Matrix to help categorize tasks based on urgency and importance.
Create a To-Do List: Start each day by creating a to-do list of the tasks you want to accomplish. Be realistic about what you can achieve in a day, and check off items as you complete them.
Eliminate Distractions: Recognize your distractions and take steps to minimize them. This may involve turning off social media, silencing notifications, or setting specific periods for checking email.
Use the Pomodoro Technique: The Pomodoro Technique involves working in focused intervals (e.g., 25 minutes) followed by a short break. This can help improve your concentration and prevent burnout.
Set Clear Goals: Define clear and measurable goals for your work. Having a sense of purpose and direction will help you stay motivated and on track.
Stay Organized: Keep your workspace organized and decluttered. This can reduce mental clutter and make it easier to focus.
Self-Monitoring: Use time tracking apps or techniques to monitor how you spend your time. This can help you identify where you may be wasting time or getting distracted.
Accountability Partner: Find a colleague or friend who can help hold you accountable for your goals and deadlines. Regular check-ins can provide motivation and feedback.
Break Down Tasks: If you struggle with maintaining focus on a task, break it down into smaller, more manageable sub-tasks. This can make the work feel less overwhelming and easier to tackle.
Continuous Learning: Invest in improving your time management and productivity skills. Books, courses, or workshops on time management can provide valuable insights.
Remember that it’s essential to adapt these tips to your specific work environment and personal preferences. Experiment with different strategies and find what works best for you. Staying productive in an ambiguous job requires self-discipline, organization, and a proactive approach to managing your time effectively.
I can totally identify with you; the only thing that sometimes works for me is painting myself into a corner by firmly committing to finishing a task by a certain date and then constantly reminding myself of that deadline. Additionally, it might be helpful to establish regular check-in meetings or status updates to track everyone’s progress. This way, we can address any challenges or roadblocks that may arise and provide support to ensure the timely completion of tasks. By incorporating these strategies, we can foster a sense of accountability and maintain a productive workflow within the team.
I simply relax and make sure I am aware of my main tasks. I prioritize my tasks based on their urgency and importance, ensuring that I allocate enough time and resources to complete them effectively. Additionally, I regularly review my progress and make adjustments to my schedule if necessary, allowing me to stay on track and meet the deadline confidently.
The fact is, neither your organization nor mine is much concerned. If they truly cared, they would ensure that the necessary funds, time, and resources were available to complete the task at hand. Why, then, would you worry? Make sure you dedicate 10% of your weekly time to personal growth and learning. If a job enables this, fantastic. If not, consider finding ways to incorporate personal development into your daily routine, such as reading books or taking online courses. Remember, investing in yourself is crucial for long-term success and fulfillment in both your personal and professional life.
To know when to put in the time and when you don’t, learn how to manage your priorities and time. This entails finding out what your stakeholders and team require and making the necessary adjustments. Anticipate their needs in advance to avoid confusing and blocking them. This entails de-prioritizing other things and determining what will genuinely enable that.
Many of the things I believe I should do often turn out not to be necessary if I wait a little while. Alternatively, someone will tell me something is important and then, after a few days, they lose interest in it. Alternatively, something else may have taken its place as being more important, or someone else may have started working on it sooner because they care more. Get/win.
This implies that even though I’m still completing my work, I’m constantly putting things off. That’s how I look at setting priorities; I know what I can put off and what has to get done right away.
You somehow manage to focus when it’s “your show.” This work can occasionally involve a lot of theatrical crap, but as soon as you take responsibility for your actions, the focus returns to the main objective, which is outcomes. You find the time to do the important things, but you cut the crap that doesn’t. “I wasn’t able to ask any customers or check the data” or “I didn’t think to try X” cannot be the justification for something not happening when you are in front of the leadership team. That may not apply to everyone, but knowing for sure that I would lose my job if I didn’t meet expectations turned on a lightbulb in my mind.
To avoid reaching this point, I would suggest not using this as a last resort and paying attention to the many helpful suggestions in this thread. Taking proactive measures and seeking feedback from customers or analyzing data can greatly help in meeting expectations. Additionally, regularly exploring new ideas and strategies, as well as being open to trying different approaches, can also contribute to avoiding the need for a last resort.
Setting strict priorities is a difficult task. For most of us, it’s an ongoing struggle. Even though startup life might be chaotic, difficult situations are where we learn and develop the most. Check out Shreyas Doshi’s LNO framework for product managers for some great advice. The LNO framework, which stands for “Less, Not None, Only,” provides a valuable approach for Product Managers to effectively prioritize tasks and projects. It emphasizes the importance of focusing on fewer high-impact initiatives rather than trying to tackle everything at once. By adopting this framework, Product Managers can make more informed decisions and allocate their time and resources more efficiently.
I timebox my days and use a Kanban board to project manage my own work. This helps me stay organized and prioritize tasks effectively. Additionally, I find it beneficial to regularly review and adjust my timeboxing and Kanban board to ensure optimal productivity and task completion.
I created my own intermediate deadlines for small steps that lead up to quarterly goals during my previous job.
So say if I had to deliver x% improvement in churn as one of my initiatives, I would work backwards from there. To get there I had to:
- determine where churn was happening → analysis that would take 3 days min as our data stack was primitive
- determine WHY churn was happening-> further analysis + interviews- say another week
- ideate and quickly test ideas/designs with customers-> say 2 weeks to get time with them
- Get permission to develop an MVP and deploy it to test customers- 1-2 weeks in addition to pre work to align stakeholders during steps 1-3 above
- Work with engineers and designers to create 1-2 MVP versions that could be deployed to test customers- 1-2 weeks depending
- Test change in customer churn via A/B testing- depends on the volume of customers and rate of churn but typically 6-9 weeks in our org
- alongside 6 build a roadmap with engineers, marketing, etc. for general availability
- Build for GA
- Deploy GA, make announcement, etc. etc.
I then stare at the above in horror and set drop-dead dates and procrastinate against those.
I have a spreadsheet with the requirements for each project by the end of the quarter, along with a “next step” and a “due date for next step” for each one. By having this spreadsheet, I am able to track the progress of each project and ensure that I am on track to meet all deadlines. This system allows me to easily identify any potential bottlenecks or areas where additional resources may be needed, allowing for proactive problem-solving and efficient project management.
Since most of my “next steps” are due by October 15 or later and many of them are already prepared, I’m just going to put them off until closer to the date. By doing so, I can focus on the tasks that require immediate attention and allocate my time and resources accordingly. This approach allows me to maintain a clear overview of my priorities and ensure that I am utilizing my time effectively to meet deadlines and deliver high-quality work. Additionally, delaying certain tasks until closer to their due dates allows for any potential changes or updates in requirements, ensuring that my work remains relevant and aligned with the project’s objectives.
Do you ask your peers for assistance with any of these? “Work with” is mentioned in the latter steps. What about 1-2 data analysts, though? How archaic did your data stack look? Specifically, what do you mean? This step is where I often get stuck.
Deploy to test clients: you tell them to take a look at this version and let you know what they think. Alternatively, do you use it on them covertly? When it comes to asking for assistance, it is common to seek help from peers or colleagues for various tasks. However, in the context of working with data analysts, their involvement may depend on the complexity and scope of the project. As for the term “archaic data stack,” it refers to outdated or obsolete technologies and tools used in managing and analyzing data. This step can be challenging as it requires understanding and updating existing systems to more modern and efficient ones. When deploying to test clients, it is important to ensure that the new data stack seamlessly integrates with their existing infrastructure. The transition can be disruptive and may require additional training for the clients’ staff to familiarize them with the new technologies. Proper communication and support during this phase are crucial to mitigate any potential obstacles and ensure a smooth adoption of the updated data stack. Additionally, regular monitoring and feedback gathering from the clients can help identify any issues or areas for improvement, allowing for continuous refinement of the data management and analysis processes.