Only fools are too busy is what a Dutch paper stated beginning of April 2021 – NRC. The pressure cannot always be on. When you are always too busy, there is no time to recover and reflect and your performance will definately be impacted. So how to ensure clarity in thinking as well as progress towards your goals? The answer – plan a small valley in between your peaks.
There is nothing wrong with working hard, dealing with tough deadlines and deliverables
Many of us really need the pressure of a deadline in order to get something done and move out of a period of slacking. A customer deliverable, a project deadline, a proposal that needs to get delivered. This motivates us and makes us run harder. When your work does not allow you to work towards completing something, it will soon result in dissatisfaction and boredom. Accomplishing a major delivery makes people feel happy and provides an opportunity for celebration.
Something is wrong though when the pressure does not subside, and you’re running from deliverable to deliverable without being able to slow down every now and then. The long term objective will quickly get out of sight and you are just running. Run Forest, Run!
After every peak a (small) valley
I usually take at least a week to recover after every major delivery, the end of a big project, a big fat deliverable. This is not a week of doing nothing, no, it’s a week where work takes place at a reduced pace. I use the time to set things in order.
During this week I reflect on my OKRs (my objectives), and try to create a clear picture for myself to determine if i’m still on track to meet my long term goals. I analyze the activities that i’ve planned and make sure these are still the right ones. New activities are added, some are deleted. I report to leadership about the status of my products and proposition and update my peers. I use some extra time to understand what is happening in the market, what the competition is up to and spend time to update my network.
New plans are created and plans that are not working are deleted. I validate my new ideas with the team, and start exploring my new initiatives.
Slowly the pressure starts to get on again
Clear thinking, and focus. That is what such a week of reflection produces for me. In explaining what i’m doing, I usually tell people that i’m getting in my imaginary helicopter to rise over the day to day situation to try to oversee the entire landscape.
Slowly, after such a week with a reduced pace, the bow is starting to tighten again. Your new ideas are starting to shape up. Products are in development are are starting to show deliverables, new deadlines are cropping up and soon you are working towards your new peak again.
I’ve worked in product management most of my professional life. I enjoy all aspects of the product management role, except for anything related to administration. Coming up with new ideas, building great products, and working towards adoption and satisfied users drives me. Always looking forward!