Since you have lots of things to do during the day, you need to do stuff quicker and more productively than other people. Let me tell you what to do to achieve this.
1. Don’t Bother Learning Another Language
This might sound controversial but the reality is, learning a new language takes too much time and resources from you, which ends up becoming an opportunity cost. For example, I studied German for 9 years, but I was not able to speak with an Austrian in Vienna anyway – I still know the German grammar very well though.
Prioritization is the most single important thing with everything we do in life, not only Product Management. You need to spend time on things that benefit you the most, depending on your short or long term goals. Most of the time English will be enough for you – at least on the web, doing research on a subject.
2. Use a Task Manager
Once upon a time, I used a notebook to track the tasks I need to complete. I was rewriting the tasks everyday to a new page and then crossing them after completion. Using a notebook for note taking and task management is so dumb imo in 2018, so get used to using a task manager.
Your task manager is always online. You can complete your tasks easily and then check what you have completed. You know when you wrote about what and you can edit them.
I am using Asana at the moment. It’s normally a team-collab task manager but I am a power user of it and it suits all my needs. And the tasks are scrolled down. If you prefer cards that are scrolled to the right, you could use Trello. I would suggest using Wunderlist if you have never used a task manager before. It is the simplest of them. And don’t forget to use the iOS or Android app of whatever tool you use.
3. Think About What You Spend (Unnecessary) Time With
Think of what you spend lots of time with during the day. Then, we will find out what we can do about them.
For me, one of these things is reading hundreds of emails every day since I love reading support emails from every customer. So I know that I spend a lot of time with Gmail.
Also, I use Google Chrome a lot, since browsing is what we all do all day long.
I also use lots of messaging apps during the day: Whatsapp, Telegram, Slack, Messenger, Skype, Discord and so on. Maybe switching between windows, too. It takes time. Or Excel, when I used it more frequently than now.
4. Check the Settings
Sometimes, it is as simple as this. Have a look at all the settings. When you check Gmail, you can find the “Undo Send” feature in the Labs tab, which should be default in my opinion. Filters, signature, and so on. You should check the settings to see what the app/site lets you change.
5. Learn the Keyboard Shortcuts
I hate using the mouse. You should, too. Why leave the keyboard to hold the mouse to just click somewhere and get your hands back to the keyboard? If you work with a computer all day, it takes a lot of your time.
Let me give some examples. On Gmail, you click the Next/Previous buttons on each mail. You scroll down to see the next thread in the group mail that you are in and you have a hard time finding the reply since the signatures are now 100 lines long, since there too many previous replies.
Or on Google Chrome, you can switch to next tab and back so easily using your keyboard. Using the mouse is so unnecessary for this.
There is a keyboard shortcut for almost everything that you would use a mouse for. Just Google “gmail keyboard shortcuts” or whatever else you want to know about – you will be amazed with what you can do.
6. Become a Power User
Easier to say than do, right? Let me tell you about people that did data-entry at a previous company I was in. They did not know Excel.
If you are spending over 2 hours in a day with Excel, you should learn how to use filters, sorting, pivot tables and well-known formulas. Maybe vertical lookups and conditional formatting, too.
People are aware that they are spending too much time with products they don’t know much about. However, they don’t try to learn more and make their lives easier.
7. Learn How to Google
Are you calling the “tech” guy in your office/family every time you encounter with each problem you have? (I am one of those “tech” guys btw.) You shouldn’t. 90% of the time, they just Google your problem and find the solution.
Think about how you can Google your problem. If it is an error code, just type the error code. You can use “how to x” – it is so effective that SEO work mostly includes “how to” and “what is” phrases of the keywords to be worked with.
Let me tell you about how I found the best places to go in Stockholm for our trip last year – and how it took only two hours to plan the whole trip.
You get on Google and type “what to eat in stockholm”, “where to go in stockholm”, “top attractions stockholm”, “stockholm hacks”, “stockholm unusual attractions”, “stockholm tips” and stuff like that. You get lots of results from both local people and other tourists.
“x hacks” is probably the best here. It shows you unique stuff about the thing you want to search about. For example, I was able to find the unusual attractions at Stockholm using “stockholm hacks” on Atlas Obscura.
Atlas Obscura has many other cities on the website so I would suggest checking them out. I even found Garlic & Shots which is a bar that has garlic in everything on the menu including the beers by searching for things like this. It was a unique and to-be-remembered meal for me, to say the least.
8. Spend Time To Read, Research and Learn
Thank god we are in the time of free knowledge. Companies and people share what they know for free – on blogs and as ebooks. So you are able to learn more and more.
Let me give some suggestions. I like reading Growth Studies and other stuff that is shared on Growthhackers.com since I am into growth hacking. I learned Google Analytics from Google Analytics Academy. I learned SQL, HTML and CSS from W3Schools. There are free courses about almost anything on sites like Udemy and Udacity – even learning to play the piano. I read almost anything on First Search. I had so much fun reading the articles featured on Startup Launch List – which I found on Product Hunt.
If you are not learning more and improving yourself, I feel sorry for you.
Knowledge is the greatest power and to obtain, you need either experience or reading. A lot of both.
9. Chill The Fuck Down
You do lots of things at work. You have problems with your family. You have some payments to make. It’s normal. We are all alike. So please, chill the fuck down and find something that lets you get your mind empty.
This could be playing games – it is for me. It could also be something like going to the gym, knitting, cooking, meditating – anything that you like. You need to have some time to get your mind free off all the nonsense of life.
However, keep in mind that you are possibly not that busy. If you are not working from 8 am to 2 pm, your whole life is not about work, work, work to be honest.
And be aware that getting bored or becoming unmotivated from time to time is quite normal. Nobody is hyper-motivated all the time. And nothing ever is an over-night success. Everything – your company, personal life, etc. – has its ups and downs.
Don’t worry. Just know that there are lots of ways to make your life easier for you.