Keep them busy!

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

I spoke about this in a recent 1-1 and I thought I would pen this here. (Used to do this quite often early and want to restart doing it).

This is in context to being a PM in a large scale company but with appropriate modifications, I feel it works everywhere.

We were talking about focus time. In a large company, there is always a sense of being busy. You might be accountable for making triaging decisions, attending stand-up meetings, aligning stakeholders, prep-ing for exec presentations, among many other things that you are thrown into, on a day to day , hour to hour basis. So, how then, do you carve out time for focus work?

One of the many ways that I have seen work (and I tell my team to do so as well) is to keep your important stakeholders busy. In the case of my team, it is the dev team (and the dev lead). I have nothing against them (or any stakeholder for that matter) ; but it is usually an unwritten rule that devs look up to the PM for anything that they may need help on / get blocked on. So, if you time it and keep them busy during the time when you want to do focus work (say write a deep spec, or analyze competition, or do some data work), you tend to not be interrupted.

How do you do this?

  1. Ensure that the stakeholders have everything that they need for the current project at hand.
  2. Have a ready ‘to-analyze’ list – that you can toss at a dev(s) to go do some effort estimate / tshirt sizing
  3. Send the stakeholders a pre-read of a document that is being worked on with an explicit ask to drop comments (and a follow up meeting to discuss)

The main thing, however is not the external interrupts, during when you are in the zone. It is your internal interrupts, which I also crudely called guilt-checks. Did I give everything that is needed for the designer? Should I give more context to the team? Is there anything due from me for the exec-preso? For this, you basically ensure that you write down a guilt-check list and make sure you are convinced that everything is taken care of.

This blog post (like many others in my blog) is mostly a top of mind dump. What do you think about this problem? Do you have a process to get into the zone? Comment / reply / or engage on twitter (@gcmouli).

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