Overcoming information overload as a PM

Houston, we have a problem

The role of a Product Manager has evolved over the years to one best described as a mini CEO. As a PM you’re a node, who deals with product research, design, copy, engineering, marketing, operations, support, legal and compliance etc., everyday.

In an engaged organization, everyone is constantly thinking about improving the product. People have new ideas, suggestions for improvements, a feature they saw on a competitor’s product they like or a cool new marketing gimmick they came across. And this is on top of regular functional requests. In most cases, these flow in through Slack or whichever chat product you use. Most of these are not immediately actionable, so you’re unable to ticket them or provide immediate feedback.

The cognitive and information overload of a PM’s job can become overwhelming. No PM can process, prioritize and provide feedback on everything they receive on the same day. While you might be working on defining the next version of a particular feature, 90% of the new information that came to you today doesn’t relate to that feature. You want to remain focused on what you’re working on, but also don’t want to lose out on valuable feedback and suggestions from your colleagues. Dealing with this information overload is one of the biggest challenges a PM faces.

DIY solutions are just not good enough

One popular way to deal with this issue is to organize regular brainstorming or ideation sessions with the wider stakeholder base. However, these meetings have their own problems - some people are more expressive than others, there is a tendency to get stuck on one idea and spend too much time digging deep into it, and it might later turn out that the idea is not feasible for a technical or regulatory reason. If the visible impact of these sessions on the product is low, people are discouraged from sharing feedback. If they go well, you will only see the volume of requests on Slack go up.

There is simply no way to avoid these things flowing through Slack. You also risk losing out on something valuable if you increase the barriers by forcing people to fill out a form or create a ticket for everything they want to say to you. 

The next time you are working on a feature, you need all the relevant ideas and suggestions. So, how do you organize this information better so that it is readily available?

The easiest thing to do is to bookmark anything that you might want to go back to in the future right within Slack. However, with 20 new bookmarks a day, you’ll find yourself wading through a lot of junk before you can filter out what is relevant to that particular feature.

Another way could be to create tickets on your project management tool, tag them and filter through when you need them. This makes sense for things like bugs, where you know you need to work on them eventually. But ticketing a message your marketing guy sent to you, with the screenshot of a competitor product, where they’re doing the payment confirmation a little differently than you are, is overkill. Even maintaining a spreadsheet is painful, messy and so 90s.

Clockwork Pins helps you organize thoughts and content

At Clockwork, we have built a great feature that can help you get organized right within Slack with minimal additional effort.

Enter Clockwork Pins. Pins let you bookmark, tag and add a note to any Slack message. Working on enhancements to the payments feature in the next sprint? Simply go to Clockwork Pins within your Slack, filter on payments and enhancements tags, and you have everything that you ever pinned away with those tags, right in front of you. Go ahead and ticket away the suggestions that make sense. Something is too big for this sprint, needs more research? Comment and tag the relevant person. Some are just plain stupid? Just delete the pins and never see them again.

Clockwork Pins will supercharge your product discovery, minimize context switching, save you a ton of time and make you super efficient. Go from ‘The job pwned me’ to ‘I pwned the job.’   

Try Clockwork for free today!

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