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A note on context switching for PMs

Context switching is a muscle that PMs should try and build with deliberate practice.

Why? Every single day, they’re dealing with 4 big S’s : Shaping, Shipping , Syncing and Supporting.

1️⃣ They’re shaping the future version of their products. They’re assimilating information around goals, markets, competition, customer needs and figuring out the highest value levers for their business. They’re wearing the researcher hat, the sales hat, the marketing hat, the mathematician hat and the design hat while coming up with the highest likelihood bets to succeed.

2️⃣ They’re helping ship the current bets in flight. Helping teams keep the ship steady and rowing in harmony. They’re wearing the engineering hat, the analyst hat, the QA hat, the design hat , the PMO hat.

3️⃣ They’re syncing cross functionally (up, down, horizontal, external) because multiple teams rely on them for data, answers, and updates. They need to provide different translations of their ongoing/upcoming work based on different audiences. They play the translator, collaborator, journalist, historian and the empathizer.

4️⃣ They’re supporting their existing products and their users — dealing with hundreds of daily signals around results, metrics, issues, blockers…they’re diagnosing, triaging and prioritizing.

This is why context Switching becomes crucial. To support the above four roles, PMs are constantly putting away one hat and wearing the next as they move from one S to another rapidly. They do it dozens of times every day.

It’s difficult when it’s new, but if you train on it like any other exercise you will increase your stamina for switching until it becomes a really strong muscle.

Obviously, you gotta avoid the muscle tears. Don’t forget to shutdown, unplug, block focus hours, take a day or two to find your flow back.

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Aditya Mishra

Aditya Mishra


I love drawing connections from different subjects in a hope to simplify the world of product management.