Recently two product managers posted a video on Tiktok swimming in a pool. It sparked a controversy around the 'real role' of product managers.
What do PMs do if they only coordinate with engineering, design, and business? Really? Nothing?
We like to think of product managers like a conductor in an orchestra who ensures you have a divine musical experience, without playing an instrument himself.
Their job is just incredibly hard!
Let's look at the day in life of a product manager and understand what do they really do on a day to day basis. Do they swim in a pool or a pool of their tears?
Product manager's role is extremely complex and sits at an intersection of business, UX and engineering. You can know more about it in this blog on beginners guide to product management.
How Does a Typical Day in Life of a Product Manager Look Like?
The life of a product manager is incredibly hard and there's so much under the sun to do.
& guess what, there will always be some unexpected tasks coming your way like:
You will have to manage all the tasks that come your way along with what's on your plate at the moment. You may even find it difficult to take time out for upskilling, analysing, documenting and strategising at times. You will have days without interventions, with interventions and with mindset changes.
Still don't believe us?
Let's take a look at an actual calendar!
This is how your week may look before it actually begins.
If you look at the calendar, you will see various stakeholder meetings and weekly meetings marked in yellow. These meetings help you, the stakeholders you work closely with and your team align on what you are currently working on. It just gives them a clear view of what is prioritised at the moment.
The red colour indicates the time you would spend in sharing updates and planning your next day. Though it just takes 15-20 minutes of your time, it's just better to plan your day in advance. It helps you plan your work & prioritise better.
The one in grey indicates your lunch time. You may plan your lunch a specific time but there will be days where you will have to move it or reduce the time too. Similarly, you need time to do some focused work. Being able to have 3-4 hours of uninterrupted time to focus on your work is the key to really think deeply on problems.
However, we wish life was so simple. Unexpected meetings are always lurking around the corner. The above calendar gives you a space to accommodate all the tasks you want to do in the week. But, you will see, as soon as you begin approaching the week, your calendar won't look the same anymore!
There may be times where you do not get enough time to focus on your work too.
Just like in the calendar below!
Seems too overwhelming right?
Relax, let's break down this calendar and understand.
Imagine building a home for yourself, you seek out a builder. A builder is the one who understands your perspective about your home and will work towards making a house that you call home. Similarly, as a product manager, you build products that your customers need and solve their problems. This demands a lot more than just doing team meetings, planning your day and focused work. It needs you to collaborate with various stakeholders and ensure that everything is executed smoothly. This week has a lot of roadmap & planning meetings, which allows the entire team to prioritise and plan for the next quarter. Planning in advance ensures that all stakeholders are aligned to your roadmap, and execution happens smoothly. 1:1s with important stakeholders are critical for aligning them in advance before the group discussions.
While this may mean one week of jumping from one meeting to another, life is much easier if things are planned in advance.
In addition to this, essentials like sharing feedback to stakeholders, sharing updates and plans for next day keep happening (marked in red). You spend time reviewing the progress on dashboards, working on instrumental gaps on the tasks you closed before, and discussing the roadmap of other teams too. These all are marked in yellow.
Even in such weeks some time for deep work has been carved out in blue. You work on your roadmap, generate reports via tools like CleverTap, analyse them and work on the instrumentation of new tasks.
You even make time for birthday celebrations of your colleagues, because why should only other employees have all the fun!
But did you check the lunch time, the way it started and how it looks now? This is just a week's calendar in the life of a product manager. One can only imagine why there are no two similar days in the life of a product manager.
There may be a few weeks where even 24 hours might seem less. Just like the one below!
While planning and prioritisation are a key to your success as a product manager. Some things like hiring are difficult to plan in advance, these meetings often come up depending on the availability of the candidate etc. These weeks may just be difficult when it comes to budgeting time for deep work.
This was an unfiltered view into the life of a product manager. Here are a few observations that might interest you:
- Lunch never happens at the same time, which just shows you will encounter a new experience everyday!
- Being a product manager is not easy but managing your time wisely & ruthless prioritisation can save the day.
- You are the voice to your customer and understand business, so you will be collaborating with different stakeholders day in & out.
- Planning in advance and aligning stakeholders can go a long way in making execution smoother in the long term.
Tips to Be an Organised Product Manager
Here are some ways how you can plan your day once you are all set to begin life of a product manager:
- Add agendas to the meeting on the calendar invite. Share any pre-reads if needed.
- Begin your day by taking time out to create a to do list.
- Accommodate some time in your calendar to reply to messages of all the stakeholders.
- Ensure you promise a time to your stakeholders every time they come up with a request.
- Check previous weeks to understand where you spend your time, prioritise ruthlessly.
- End your week by thinking about your day and what you could have planned better.
How Does Upraised Prepare You for Your Life of a Product Manager?
As someone who will be owning the product, it is important that you know what you are getting into. We offer a Career Accelerator Program that'll help you break through the product management world. One cannot learn product management in less than two months but if you want to succeed in the area, you need to put in the time and effort.
Most product managers struggle with defining problem statements, identifying solutions, prioritisation, edge case identification and even metrics of success. We help you get hands-on experience on writing PRDs (Product Requirement Documents) and build a hawk eye vision of looking at products. We prepare you for a life that lies ahead of you and this begins with a small 50 minute free test. Take your test today and get prepared to know what will lie ahead of you in this journey of product management.
Maybe then you can conclude that product managers swim in a pool or in a pool of tears.
Best of luck for your product management journey!