I’m one of those “don’t talk to me until after my coffee” people. Mornings are not my most productive (or cheerful) time. So I was pretty pleased when I discovered an achievable tweak to my morning routine that not only requires minimal effort (read: I don’t have to speak to anyone or type anything), but has also given me a fresh perspective on my daily approach to product management. Here it is:
I sit with my product roadmap for 10 minutes before doing ANYTHING else.
I don’t check my email. I don’t scan my Slack channels. I don’t talk to any colleagues. I stay far away from Trello and JIRA. I just take a few minutes to vibe out with my roadmap. (Side note: I’ve also been on a yoga kick for the past month, so this might be related?)
As product managers, we often find ourselves in “urgent” mode. We want to keep our sights on the long-term vision—but a lot of our time is spent fighting fires. Since I started allocating a few minutes to my roadmap every morning, my days have been more grounded. I analyze both the granular (what’s each dev working on today? how close are we to that next release?) and the big picture (are we on track to make quarterly goals in line with our STRATEGY?). It’s given me a new sense of control and perspective over our approach to product management.
My case is special. Since I’m the PM for roadmapping software, when I spend 10 minutes with my roadmap, I’m also spending 10 minutes with my own product. Two birds, one stone. But there’s value to doing this exercise with both your roadmap and your product. Each approach has different benefits.
- Spending 10 minutes with your roadmap every morning: This re-centres your plans. Are you going in the right direction? How should you tweak? Is obsession over everyday minutia draining your focus? Think of your roadmap as a feature, then assess how it’s working for your stakeholders and the company overall (in the same way you would assess how a product feature works for your users).
- Spending 10 minutes with your product every morning: Don’t approach this exercise with any goals or intentions. Act like a customer. Start with a blank canvas and see what new ideas and inspirations spring to mind. How do you feel while engaging with your product? What would improve your experience? Fill in the blanks: “It would be awesome if I could…”
Of course, we look at our products (which in my case, also means looking at my roadmap) about 100 times per day. But something different happened after I set aside some no-distractions time as part of my routine. From looking at my roadmap, I found new actionable ways to keep our plans track. And from looking at our product, I came up with concrete ideas to get people using our app on a more regular basis.
You can do this on an occasional or haphazard basis. But the cool thing about making this part of your routine is that even though you’re doing the same thing over and over, different results emerge. Which means either I’m insane, or Einstein is wrong.