Prioritizing Your To-Do List as a Product Manager (With Examples)

Prioritizing Your To-Do List As A Product Manager (With Examples)

Navigating the world of product management takes a masterful mind (not bragging). But, as we’ve often seen, even the most organized PMs can sometimes let their own to-do lists gather dust. 

It’s a strange paradox: those who can manage the most complex products can also be lost in the woods when it comes to managing their everyday tasks. 

It’s like we can chart the course of a vast ocean liner easily, but stumble when trying to paddle our own canoe.

Not to worry, this article isn’t just a lifeboat; it’s a full-fledged navigation system for the seasoned Product Manager seeking to rein in the chaos of their to-do list.

In this article, we will:

  • Learn to skillfully differentiate the ‘do-it-now’ from the ‘it-can-wait’, using tips from prioritization matrices
  • Discover the delicate art of saying ‘no’ and delegating tasks, and how this can strategically empowering your team while keeping your own sanity in check.
  • Embrace a reflective end-of-day routine, aligning your daily accomplishments with the overarching objectives of your product’s journey.

Why Bother with a To-Do List?

In this world, where multitasking is as common as coffee addiction, a to-do list is a vital part of the unwritten PM bible. 

It’s that faithful friend who, despite your tendency to ignore it, patiently waits to remind you of all the things you swore you’d do. To-do lists bring order to the chaos, transforming your daily scramble into something that resembles organization. 

Without them, you’d probably be as lost as a newbie at a developers’ convention.

These lists are not just a bunch of tasks; they’re your personal sanity check. They ensure you don’t spend your day putting out imaginary fires while the real blaze rages on unnoticed. They make sure you can efficiently navigate the meetings and ‘urgent’ emails that everyone loves to send.

How Should You Prioritize Your To-Do List?

So now that you’ve talked about it, you need to get down to actually prioritizing your to-do list. At first, it might feel like trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube blindfolded. Where do you even start?

Fear not, though. With a few strategic steps, you can turn that random assortment of words on a list into a carefully executed strategy. 

Let’s break it down:

Step 1: Identify Your ‘Big Rocks’

Identifying your ‘big rocks’ is the cornerstone of effective to-do list management in product management. If you fill your jar (aka your day) with sand and pebbles first (small, less significant tasks), you won’t have room for these big rocks. 

These are the tasks that, if accomplished, will have a substantial impact on the progress and success of your project. 

They’re what give you that “I’ve really achieved something today” feeling. Everything else can wait, like those team-building activities you keep promising.

How Fibery Can Help

When using Fibery, start by laying out these critical tasks. The ‘Board’ view is an excellent tool for this. It’s intuitive and visual, perfect for categorizing tasks based on their impact. 

Create columns labeled ‘High Impact’, ‘Medium Impact’, and ‘Low Impact’. 

Once you’ve set up your categories, drag and drop your tasks into these categories. 

But how do you decide what goes where? Here’s where strategic thinking comes into play. Consider factors like deadlines, the resources required, dependencies between tasks, and the overall objectives of your project. 

Ask yourself questions like, “If I complete this task, how much closer will we be to our project goals?” or “What’s the ripple effect of this task on other areas of the project?”

With this you can visually gauge which tasks are essential and deserve your immediate attention. This approach also makes it easier to communicate priorities to your team. Everyone can see at a glance what needs to be focused on and why.

Step 2: Assess Urgency and Importance

Distinguishing between what’s urgent and what’s important is a skill that sets apart savvy product managers. Yes, everything seems urgent, but let’s be honest, it’s not. 

In a world where everything seems to be on fire, it’s crucial to identify the tasks that truly require immediate attention versus those that are important but don’t need to be tackled right now. 

That’s where the Eisenhower Box method comes into play, and Fibery makes it easy to implement this system.

Within Fibery, you can harness the power of the Eisenhower Box by creating custom tags that correspond to the four categories: ‘Urgent and Important’, ‘Important but Not Urgent’, ‘Urgent but Not Important’, and ‘Not Urgent and Not Important’. 

Spoiler: Most of your emails probably fall into the last category.

How Fibery Can Help

Applying these tags in Fibery is straightforward and transformative. 

When you tag a task as ‘Urgent and Important’, it’s a signal that this task needs immediate attention – it’s critical to the success of your project and has a looming deadline or significant consequences if not completed promptly. 

With Fibery, once your tasks are tagged, you can filter your view to focus on those tasks that are ‘Urgent and Important’. This approach ensures that you’re not just being reactive and putting out fires all day but are proactively working on tasks that genuinely move the needle for your project.

Step 3: Sync with Your Energy Levels

Mastering your to-do list isn’t just about what you do; it’s also about when you do it. 

All tasks are not created equal, and neither are all times of the day. Match high-energy tasks with your peak energy times. 

Recognizing that your energy levels ebb and flow throughout the day is crucial in optimizing your productivity. Match high-energy tasks with your peak energy times. 

First, take a moment to reflect on your daily energy cycle. Are you a morning person who hits the ground running as soon as the sun rises, or do you find your stride later in the day? Understanding your own rhythms is key to this process. 

Once you have a good sense of your most productive times, you can start scheduling your tasks in Fibery to match. And you can save that brain-dead data entry for when you’re in a post-lunch slump. 

How Fibery Can Help

In Fibery, use the calendar integration to not just schedule tasks, but to schedule them intelligently. For those high-energy periods, block out time for your ‘big rocks’ – the tasks that require the most brainpower, creativity, or focus.

For example, if you’re at your best in the mornings, schedule your most challenging tasks during this time. This could include brainstorming sessions, deep-dive analyses, or strategic planning – anything that demands your full attention and best thinking.

Conversely, for those times when your energy tends to dip – perhaps the post-lunch slump or late afternoon – schedule less demanding tasks. These could be administrative duties, routine check-ins, or other tasks that don’t require intense concentration. 

Step 4: Master Delegation

Here’s a fun fact: you don’t have to do everything yourself. 

Mastering the art of delegation not only helps manage your workload but also empowers your team and fosters a collaborative environment. 

Look at your list and ask, “Who else can do this?” Delegation is not your way of saying, “I’m too important for this”; it’s more like, “I’m too swamped, and you’re too awesome not to have this opportunity.”

Fibery offers an efficient platform to streamline this process, ensuring that delegation is more than just offloading tasks; it’s about strategic task distribution.

How Fibery Can Help

First, identify tasks that can be delegated. These might be tasks that align better with another team member’s skills or tasks that provide growth opportunities for junior team members. 

Then, within Fibery, use the ‘Assignees’ field to delegate these tasks. 

This field is straightforward to use: simply select a team member from the dropdown menu to assign the task to them.

But delegation isn’t just about assigning a task and walking away. In Fibery, you can add comments to each task, providing context or specific instructions. 

This is your chance to communicate the task’s importance, its deadline, any related tasks, and how it fits into the larger project. 

Clear communication here helps prevent misunderstandings and sets your team members up for success. 

The PM’s Hot Take

Prioritizing your to-do list in product management is less about doing everything and more about doing the right things. We often fall into the trap of equating busyness with productivity. At Fibery, we advocate a different approach: strategic prioritization. It’s about understanding that not all tasks are created equal and focusing your efforts where they’ll have the most impact. Our platform is designed to help you visualize and execute this prioritization, but the real game-changer is the shift in mindset. Embrace this approach to prioritization, and you’ll see not just your own productivity, but your team’s output and product quality reach new heights.

Conclusion

Mastering your to-do list is about much more than just keeping track of tasks. It’s about strategic prioritization, aligning your daily efforts with broader goals, and empowering your team through effective delegation. 

Fibery is here to help you navigate this journey with tools that streamline your workflow and foster collaboration. Ready to take your product management to the next level? 

Explore our blog for more insights, or sign up for a free trial today to experience a new paradigm in team productivity. 

Let’s redefine what’s possible in product management, together.

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