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How 8 Product Managers Juggle Work-Life Balance

What does a day in the life of a product manager look like? Well, in simplest terms, the product manager is a company’s go-between for the business and development teams.

The best product managers ask the right questions, and have a deep understanding of their businesses, target audiences, customers, competitors, and technology. By answering these questions, they can influence the process from idea to execution.

Product managers are the lifeblood of any successful company – especially in the tech and start-up world. They help create a vision and bring products to life. But the role of the product manager is a challenging one. It requires deep knowledge of the business, target market, customer base, as well as competitors and technology.

Because of this, they’re often pulled in many directions and can end up struggling to balance work and life. Here’s how these 8 product managers have managed their time in order to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Amanda Ramos, Associate Product Manager at Inspace

Work-life balance means that I am not sacrificing my health to grow my wealth.

All jokes aside, having work-life balance ensures that burnout is less likely for talent, and startups need to keep all the talent they can find. I lead by example, I prioritise the things that I find important to me outside of work – my family, my rabbit, my Masters Degree in Design, and exercise. And I refuse to be in a position that would require me to compromise taking part and enjoying those things as they are essential to my soul.

Work is also deeply important to me – I am purpose driven in my work and would not choose to work in a soulless environment.

So, like everyone else, I find a balance – if there are several days of high stress decision-making – I’ll reward myself with several days of doing what I love. In doing so, I hope that I foster that view in my colleagues too and we can all live harmoniously and be mentally well.

Click here to learn to use the MoSCoW method and other popular product management frameworks with EntryLevel’s free Product Management email course.

Raffaela Bethke, Product Manager at Hyper Anna

To me, work-life balance means being mentally present at the right time, for example, to think about work at work and to limit thinking about work when you aren’t at work. Sure, it’s hard because we are always connected, and now with COVID-19 and the majority of the world working home, establishing physical and mental boundaries for yourself helps a lot.

Another thing that helps me is exercise – it takes my mind off things and I feel so much more energised when I exercise regularly. I also make an effort to get 7+ hours of sleep every night, go for long walks with my dog and read a lot which relaxes me. (Pssst… did you know you can apply product management frameworks to work-life balance? Learn more about how frameworks like the MoSCoW method can help you prioritise with EntryLevel’s free course here.)

Iana Guzhyk, Product Manager at Merch38

If you have the same issue and struggling with balance while working from home, here are my best been-there tips.

Make your workday work for you

It’s time to establish boundaries and create work rules for yourself. An at-home workday can roll into an all-day workday if you aren’t making proper goals for yourself.

Check your personal habits

Healthy work-from-home habits are the same as any healthy habits. Time to take care of yourself (regular breaks, go on a walk, get social, make exercises).

Create a healthy workspace

One of the easiest ways to create a work-life balance is to segment physical space for each activity. Be sure to shut down and put away your work laptop so that you can relax and changeover easily into the non-working hours.

Luke Hefson, Product Manager at GitHub

I think I’m a bit crap at work-life balance, to be honest, but I’ve been trying to get better at it recently. I’m not very good at switching my brain off when I’ve been thinking about hard problems – which is most of what my job entails!!

When I’m in “work mode” I find it hard to get out of it. However, when I’m in a non-work mode, I’m pretty good at shutting it out. That is why paid time off is really important to me – I take at least the standard 28 days statutory UK minimum if not more (as GitHub has ‘unlimited’ paid time off) and when I do, I let my team know that I’m going to be unresponsive.

Daniella Corricelli, Senior Product Manager at VMware

Defining time to be engaged and focused on work and knowing when to shut my computer and step away.

Of course this is easier said than done. When I find myself too absorbed I’ve been making an effort to take meetings on my balcony and trying to be a little more deliberate about non-screen time outside of working hours.

I didn’t mean for this to happen, but I’ve been waking up at 6:30 am every day and I start reading. Maybe this is a way to give myself extra ‘me-time’. I also have a standing 9:00 am crossword puzzle date with my girlfriend.

Oleh Zaychenko, Senior Product Manager at Splice

The beauty of my job is that I get to sit on my couch and message people all day for a living – I got pretty far from my Ukrainian coalminer grandparents. But that blurry line can also be challenging.

The concept of work-life balance in a world where you can’t leave your job because your job is on your phone is tricky. I am not unique in having this problem – even folks who do much more physical work can’t just stop thinking about their day when they clock out.

Luckily, both Shutterstock and Splice have been supportive of us not answering emails and chats after hours. Not all companies are like that. But working from home throws a wrinkle into what “after hours” mean.

So, I make sure to use a separate laptop for work, and when the time comes, I close it. I’d lie if I said I’ve never replied to a chat after hours, but it really doesn’t happen very often. I guess I work with some considerate people!

Alex Reeve, Product Manager at LinkedIn

I know it’s cliche, but my philosophy here is less zero-sum and more about integration and sustainability. I’m fortunate to work for a company where face time isn’t the cultural norm, so I’ll look for ways to integrate work into my life, and vice-versa; e.g. I’ll occasionally work remotely on Friday if I’m travelling over the weekend.

If you’re like Alex and want to integrate your professional goals into your life, try EntryLevel’s free course today. You’ll learn key product management concepts in your inbox daily – sign up now.

Yana Yushkina, Product Manager at Google

I don’t necessarily think of work and life as a dichotomy. Rather I try to make sure that my energy is spent intentionally across different pillars of life – family, health & personal development, career/work, friendships.

These don’t always need to have an equal level of attention devoted to them – but I want to make sure I don’t neglect a pillar for too long or focus on one pillar (work being the most frequent culprit) at the expense of others.

Healthy routines help. More specifically, I typically work out 4 times a week in the morning. The rest of the day is devoted to work, but I make sure that my husband and I spend the last hour of the day catching up.

Weekends are for activities either as a couple or with friends. Work travel does throw a wrench in these routines so that’s something I’m still trying to figure out.

About Author

Balance the Grind is a work-life balance publication on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.