An Insider’s View on Product Management

April 16, 2009

Be wary of multi-tasking

Filed under: Product Management — Gregory @ 4:27 pm
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Product management is inherently a cross department activity. Responsibilities typically range from R&D, to marketing and sales. In their daily activities, product managers are naturally required to interact with different people and juggle with numerous tasks. In this type of environment,  employers naturally encourage product managers to develop skills such as “ability to multi-tasks” and become “comfortable in a multi-tasking environment” .

However, numerous studies have shown that our brain is inefficient at switching from one activity to another, or doing multiple things at the same time. Multitasking typically translates into lower employees’ productivities, poorer work quality, and higher stress levels which can increase the frequency of serious mistakes. You think you can answer this email while talking on the phone and preparing your next meeting? Think again.

The truth is we suck at doing multiple things at once, even if we often think we can accomplish more that way. As a product manager we need to recognize those limitations and judiciously use our time. The nature of our work can easily drag us into a “multi-tasking craziness state” which would be disastrous for our mental health and our decision making abilities. In reality, a lot of activities are just noise and can be safely postponed or plainly ignored. For the rest of them, we need to resist the urge of tackling everything. A more sensitive approach is to maintain a task list, sort it regularly by priorities, and work on one task at a time. Try it. You will find out you are much more productive that way…

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