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The best time management skills


Time management describes the ability to use your time efficiently and productively. Good time management is characterized by having time to do everything you want or need to do without being stressed.

Certain time management skills give you the power to manage your (professional) life stress-free and successfully. To give you an insight into the complex topic of time management, we have asked a real expert: Tina has been a product manager for many years and will share her personal time management tips and skills here.

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“Focus and don’t start several tasks at the same time”

Some people say time management is one of the most important skills a product manager should have. Why do you think it’s important to manage your time well?

As a product manager, managing time is very important because many things are happening at the same time. As a product manager, you are dealing with different priorities and managing different stakeholders. You also have to take care of the customer’s needs, the marketing. Occasionally, there are conflicting priorities in these topics. So time management is crucial for any successful product manager and the product itself.

Time management skills look different for each person, but there is one thing everyone agrees on: prioritization. Can you tell us something about die difference of important and urgent tasks? How do you manage them?

First, I recommend that everyone looks at the well-known Eisenhower Matrix, or Priority Matrix.

This is about categorizing tasks into their urgency and importance. Something that is important and urgent should be tackled directly. A task that is also urgent, but not as important, can be done later or delegated.

When deciding prioritization, I always ask myself this question: How would this task help me achieve the product’s goals? If the task is speaking with a customer, for example, this is much more critical than some administrative task because speaking with the customer helps me develop the product’s success.

When talking about time management skills, we also should talk about communication skills. After all, in certain situations you can’t avoid delegating certain tasks. What are your skills and tips here?

Deligation is very significant for any job, honestly. Naturally, no one can do anything on their own. So for a successful delegation, the communication skill would be here: setting clear expectations. You should take enough time to really explain the task to the new assignee. And communication what the end goal and the expectations are, is crucial so that you don’t end up wasting time for a good deal of feedback. Another great time management skill to plan the time for delegation with some buffer. You should give your counterpart enough time to ask questions about the project. Every minute you invest at this point will save you significant time over the course of the project. Everything should be exactly clarified before starting a task.

Another time management skill is planning. How do you plan your day? Do you have a traditional to-do list to check off?

Actually, I have this classic check off list on paper. I just love the feeling of being able to check things off my list. I tend to plan my whole week on Sunday evening or Monday morning. So, I won’t waste my time for time management during the week. Of course, things change, especially in an agile organization, and you have to keep yourself open for important and unplanned things to come.

After many years of work: Do you sometimes still struggle with approaching deadlines?

Definitely. If I’m leading a team and as a team, we have to reach a deadline there is always a certain risk involved. As more people are engaged in a project, you should be more careful with the time planning up to the deadline. Not everyone has the same urgency as you have and understands deadlines as you do. To make sure everyone is pulling in the same direction, good communication skills are needed again: make sure everyone knows what is on the agenda and by when the entire job should be completed.

Stress always occurs when we have taken on more work than we can actually do. What are your tips for dealing with stress?

Sometimes, only ice cream helps … But I think a significant part of good time management is pause management. Everyone requires enough breaks to refill their energy tank. I love walks in the countryside, also in the morning, take the dog for a walk. Find your routine and keep it to start the day with less stress.

What would you say are the most common pitfalls of time management?

  • Underestimating how much time a project/task needs

  • Having too high expectations as you’re working as a team

  • Not tracking the spent working time correctly

What is your take when it comes to a team’s time management? Do you have any strategy for getting the best results?

I recommend having a discussion with the team on what they expect: Ask them how much time they think they require. This is always better than estimate the time by yourself, since they might have other tasks they’re working on. When you’re talking to your team, you can always help them to prioritize all the tasks.

One significant element of learning how to improve time management is getting comfortable with saying “no” to certain things. What is your opinion here? In which situations is it okay to day no?

My approach is to weight the options. If I’m fully booked for the next weeks and my manager comes with some very urgent tasks, I would not directly say “no”, I’d say, I’m fully booked, but if we reprioritize the tasks, I can do them right away. However, it is important not to take on every task directly and to communicate workload transparently.

What are your tips to improve the personal time management skills?

  • Focus. Don’t start many tasks at the same time

  • Give the task the time it needs

  • Set time limits for the tasks and take short breaks after finishing one

  • As mentioned before, plan your week ahead

  • Prioritize tasks based on importance and urgency, like in the matrix

  • Keep your workspace tidy to not distract yourself

  • Delegate if you have to, but do it transparently

  • Find a safe space where you can concentrate – for me, remote work did the trick

About Tina Ghanem

Tina has been working in product management for 12 years now. She started with the organization of teams, then she got involved with product development, the product lifecycle, the product roadmap as well as product marketing. Having worked with many companies on product growth, she has gained several experiences in time and team management. Currently, she lives in the US and works remotely for the German IT company Actonic (first hidden time management tip).

“I always ask myself this question: How would this task help me achieve the product’s goals?”

Thanks to the insights of our product manager, we have gained some valuable insights into time management. The significant thing for you to know is that while there are universal tips and skills, everyone is individual and has to develop their own best practices. With a little exercise, however, everyone can go through life stress-free and successfully.

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