Day in the Life of a Product Manager

I often get questions from people what a typical day is like as a product manager so I wanted to share my perspective. Product managers vary so much from company to company and even within a company. I work at an adtech company with a focus on supporting one of our existing products. Most of my work is updating the data partner that fuels the product while the remainder of my work is to support and improve the product.

Photo by airfocus on Unsplash

6:30am

Every weekday, my alarm goes off at 6:30am, and I immediately go to the bathroom to get ready. Afterwards, I read a book for 10–15min before catching up on the morning newsletters I subscribe to. I’m a huge fan of Skimm and The New York Times Morning Brief. There is sometimes overlap between the two, but I often find one newsletter will dive deeper into certain topics than the other.

7:15am

Once I finish my morning reads, I make my bed and get ready for yoga. I’ve been doing the Boho Beautiful 14 day yoga and meditation series, which is about 20min of yoga followed by 15min of meditation. I find yoga and meditation help my body and mind ease into the workday.

8:00am

I change out of my workout clothes into my work uniform, which is typically a top with high waisted ripped jeans. While I wait for my work laptop to boot up, I write three things I’m grateful for in my journal. I put on my jewelry which is typically a Mejuri necklace with an initial pendant along with earrings.

Once my laptop is on and I’m connected to the VPN, I immediately create my todo list for the day using my notes from the previous day. I have a Google doc where I list today’s date followed by what I’m working on and the status of each task. I use it to compile my daily standup notes I post on Slack each day. I usually draft my daily standup notes on the Slack channel with myself first before posting it on the daily standup channel since this channel is viewed by almost 100 people.

After creating my todo list for today, I check Jira and my email to see if anything new came in. We use Jira to keep track of the engineering progress for each product initiative. There is an engineering board where I have filters so I’m seeing what tickets pertaining to me are currently getting worked on in this sprint. I’m constantly reviewing it throughout the day to make sure I know where each initiative is at and if engineering has any questions for me.

I spend the next hour or so responding and following up on emails.

10am

I have a few daily standups I attend, one for each engineering group product works with. It’s a chance for everyone to know the status of the tickets engineering is working on and to also ask/address any questions/comments. I love how efficient standups can be if they are done correctly.

To have an efficient standup, each person talks about the following:

  1. What did I do yesterday
  2. What am I doing today
  3. What are my roadblocks

Each person’s update should be short, around 30sec. One of my favorite scrummasters, keeps a notepad open through standup. Copying and pasting what tickets people have questions on and who is needed for those discussions. After everyone gives their update, he calls out which folks need to stay on afterwards to discuss the questions. He then prioritizes quick questions and people can drop off once they are no longer needed.

10:30am

I take a break to make breakfast which is usually a bagel with cream cheese, fruit, and coffee. I typically snack on the fruit and sip on coffee throughout the morning. I found having a later breakfast made it so I wasn’t as hungry throughout the afternoon.

11:30am

After standups, I update my draft for the daily Slack standup and post it on the standup Slack channel. The goal of this Slack channel is to provide several stakeholders an update on what product is working on. Since it’s not a meeting, stakeholders can check the Slack channel at their convenience.

Once my daily standup is on the Slack channel, I go back to addressing emails and Slack. For quick one off questions, we typically use Slack to communicate. Email is used whenever addressing several folks. I also use email when I don’t need an answer right away.

1pm

If I have afternoon meetings, I’ll plan my lunch around it. I typically like to eat lunch around 1 or 1:30pm. My go to lunch is salad mixes by Taylor Farms. Each bag lasts me two lunches. I found that these salad mixes ensure that I’m eating my vegetables and the mix spices it up so I’m not just eating lettuce or kale.

1:30pm

One of the biweekly meetings I have is meeting with product marketing, business development, and solutions. It’s a chance for all of us to be aware of any new product releases or product requests. Whenever I have a meeting where I need to give a status update, I draft in my notes beforehand what items I would like to cover. I’m more efficient when I’m prepared and have a document I can refer to for talking points, so I find drafting updates ahead of time works well for me.

3pm

Sometimes I’ll have a snack, eating some Cheez-t with tea.

I often have action items after a meeting, and it’s typically to review documentation. I’ll spend the rest of the afternoon reviewing documentation or testing if engineer makes a release. I find the afternoon is when I’ll get the most questions from engineering so I try to keep an eye on Slack in case anything comes up.

4pm

I find I do feel more refreshed after a walk outside so I’ll take a walk around my neighborhood around 4pm. By this time, usually work has winded down, so I’m not receiving as many notifications. After my walk, I check my email and Slack. I typically log off around 4:45pm.

5pm

After I turn off my work laptop, I wind down with YouTube videos and coloring books. In the beginning of quarantine, I started coloring, and I find it so relaxing. It’s fun to come up with color pallets and think about what I want to color vs leave white.

I’m a fan of Johanna Basford’s coloring books since they are so pretty. Lately I’ve been coloring in her Worlds of Wonder coloring book while watching YouTube videos about minimalism.

6pm

I try to cook and eat dinner around 6pm. My go-tos for dinner tend to be anything that I can quickly heat up. I’m obsessed with Beecher’s Mac and Cheese from Costco, especially since it lasts me 3–4 meals.

I typically watch TV while I eat dinner and lately I’ve been watching Flight Attendant on HBO Max.

7:30pm

After dinner, I’ll usually call a friend or a family member to catch up. I personally like to walk around my room when I’m on the phone since I am sitting most of the time during the day. Especially since my friends and family aren’t in the same city as me, I found phone calls are a great way to stand connected and have deeper conversations vs relying purely on text.

9pm

I do another yoga video at night to close out my day, as I find it nice to work out when my body is more warm. I’ve been doing the daily Yoga with Adriene videos. She has a monthly calendar with a yoga video each day, removing decision fatigue. After yoga, I get ready for bed and shower.

10pm

To close out the night, I read or write in my journal before going to bed around 10:30/11pm.

Hope you enjoyed a breakdown of a typical day for me. Lmk in the comments below if you are a product manager and if you’re typical day is similar or different than mine.

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Hey! I’m a 20-something year old who loves discussing self improvement. I’ve worked in operations and product at tech companies.

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Lilly Chan

Hey! I’m a 20-something year old who loves discussing self improvement. I’ve worked in operations and product at tech companies.