Handling Stress As A Product Manager: White Lines, Car-Jacking Are Not The Answers

Yesterday: We recapped “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang“, the second season opener of the British scifi series Torchwood… in 10 Panels Or Less™.

Today: We’re using this story recap as a springboard into this week’s topic: Handling stress as a product manager.


Coke and car-jacking? This Product Manager handled stress… poorly

In “Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang”, an alien Blowfish deals with the stress in his life by taking drugs, stealing a sports car, and taking a human family hostage.

It doesn’t end well.

Nobody Said It’d Be Easy

Product management is a strategic role. An exciting role. And a stressful role.

In addition to the typical workplace stressors — random interruptions, office politics, lack of control, etc. — PMs face specific challenges that few others face, such as identifying profitable problems that your team is uniquely suited to solve, and balancing operational activities against strategic goals and corporate objectives, among others.

There’s No Shortage Of Quick-Hit Solutions

Feeling stressed?

  • Improve your time management and organization skills!
  • Think positively!
  • Breathe deeply!
  • Exercise more!
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff!

While all these suggestions make sense… they’re also very generic.

Apply Those Critical Thinking Skills

You’re paid to make profitable decisions for your product. You should do the same for yourself.

On a personal level, ask yourself:

  • Do I have clear business objectives for this product? Am I communicating them effectively? How do I know?
  • Am I working from large to small, or am I losing the forest for the trees? Do I have the right perspective?
  • Am I involved in too many unproductive meetings? Or meetings that could proceed just fine without me? If so, why am I attending?
  • What are my long-term career plans? VP? COO? How am I progressing toward that goal?
  • Are the demands I feel accurate, or are they generated by my own Type-A personality? (I ask myself this all the time. In fact, I’m doing it right now.)

Take the time to ask yourself the hard questions. You may, or may not, like the answers. But once you have the data, you’ll find a way to change things for the better.

And if that doesn’t work, there’s always the coke and car-jacking as a fall-back.

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