Product management: Time blocking for your sanity

Time blocking

I’ve been testing time blocking as a way to wrangle these interruptions and help me correctly utilize my time, with tasks correctly prioritized by actual urgency and business need. Yes, I make every effort to quickly unblock development work as issues arise, but beyond that I try to avoid interruptions while I separate my time into:

  • Inbox screening / general updates: Run through my inbox and check Slack (15–30 minutes). This includes writing down and prioritizing the tasks I find, rather than taking care of them immediately. I do this about three times a day.
  • Project management: Address any open items on a per-project basis (15–30 minutes each). For each of my active software development projects (or clients), I try to use a solid block of time to address any open issues: checking delivered work, prioritizing new bugs, answering questions, reviewing QA feedback, reviewing any new designs, and any related tasks found in the earlier inbox screening. Keeping my head in the same project for a bit lets me complete related tasks more efficiently. Repeat as necessary.
  • Product projects: An hour at a time (ideally) for other projects (research, scoping or writing, for example). These projects should be prioritized in a list somewhere (I like Wunderlist), depending on urgency and value.
  • Meetings: Attend meetings as scheduled (obviously). If you have any pull as to when they’re scheduled, try to group them into a block.



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Erin C Cummins

Erin C Cummins

Product management consultant, helping founders get ideas built. Lover of efficiency, dogs, bikes, plants, cooking, nachos and feminism.