How To Jump-Start A Stalled Product Manager

When Product Managers Run Out Of Juice They Need A Jump Start
When Product Managers Run Out Of Juice They Need A Jump Start

Ugh! It’s the 4th quarter, the financial world seems to be going to hell-in-a-hand-basket, a global recession appears to either be here or be looming, Microsoft’s Vista is still a dog, and all of those political TV commercials have now officially become annoying. Being a product manager is a tough job on the best of days, but it sure seems like right now it can be a real challenge to even get out of bed let alone be the #1 cheerleader for your product. What’s a product manger to do?

If you were a car sitting in the parking lot at work, your dome light wouldn’t even turn on when a door was opened – that’s how low your energy level is right now. What you need is a good, swift kick in the … , oh wait, that’s for a later post. Right now what you need is a jump-start. What you need is guidance from the world famous Brian Tracy to get you pointed in the right direction in order to get you off of your butt and back on track:

  1. Everyone Needs An Action Plan: Come on and admit it – you love plans. Write down everything that you need to be doing and then go back and put an A (high priority), B, or C (low priority) next to each one of them. Brian says that “… a written plan leads you into action.” How’s that for getting started?
  2. Get Yourself Clean: No, we’re not talking about drugs (but you probably should do something about that also), rather we’re talking about your work area. What would your mom say if she saw it right now? This is busy work that won’t take too much of your gray matter to quickly make better – do it and then feel happy about it.
  3. Two Buckets: Urgent vs. Important: You’ve probably heard this one before, but you can’t hear it too many times. The urgent stuff needs your attention right now – get on it. The important stuff will need your attention, but it can wait just a bit.
  4. Go For The Big Value: Those big projects scare all of us – where to start? It really doesn’t matter, just start. You need to tackle the big important tasks that will have a long term payoff for you first. Yeah, yeah, I know that you’d like to get some quick wins by starting with some little tasks, but don’t. Time will fly by and the big boys will still be there and you’ll be even farther behind.
  5. Procrastinate!: Yes, you really should do this! The trick is making sure that you procrastinate on the the tasks that will contribute little or nothing to accomplishing your really big goals. Keep pushing them off and I’ll bet that you’ll find that they end up fading away…

We all get burned out, run down, or just simply run out of gas. The key point is to quickly realize that this has happened and to do something about it. Even the best product managers have their off days. The next time that you find yourself staring at the ceiling, whip out this list and get back to work!

When was the last time that you felt that you had stalled? How did you realize this? What did you do about it? How long did it take you to get back on track? Leave a comment and let me know what you are thinking.