How to manage information overwhelm around product management?

When I enjoyed building my superpower

Since the time I became serious about building a thriving career in product management, I have been intentional about being ahead of the curve and knowing every new nugget of knowledge that gets introduced into this field.

Over time, I become an information hoarder and would save and tag every new framework, a new model, a new methodology related to products that I would bump into in Evernote.

It served me well and over time I built a reputation in my organizations as someone who would know every framework and relevant model to apply as and when needed.

This newfound reputation kept me pushing forward. I would follow product leaders of all kinds on Linkedin and Twitter and that would provide me continuous stream of new information everyday.

Drinking from a firehose

However, what started as a continuous stream a few years ago, has become an overflowing torrent of information.

Last checked, there are 62 product conferences all over the world today. Not just that, product conferences have mutated into different flavors. For example, Product Led Growth (PLG), the flavor of the season, has 6 different conferences. There are a dozen product conferences for growth topics, a few on executive product management and what not.

There are over 50 podcasts on product management, and countless newsletters.

In an attempt to keep my head above water, I devised ways to cope this overload. GetPocket extension was a promising new invention. It would let me save all new articles, podcasts, posts at one place to consume at a later time. But soon, it became a blackhole of sorts that would only make you more anxious for not reading them ever.

The other coping mechanism was to follow trusted curators, who would source high quality content from all around the space. I enjoyed curated content from people like Teresa Torres, Hiten Shah, Sachin Rekhi and others. But over time, even the curated content was overwhelming to consume.

Ditch FOMO, Embrace JOMO

It is only in recent months that I realized that this effort to be on top of PM generated content is a losing proposition. It can take away your peace of mind. With the sheer amount of product content being created everyday, one can never keep at it.

However, that doesn't also mean that you shut yourself off from exposing to new knowledge.

I was looking for a middle ground, a more sustainable way to acquire relevant knowledge.

I began asking this question to CEOs and product leaders on my podcast on how do they optimize information intake without getting overwhelmed - since information inflow is only going to be exponentially coming to us in the future.

One of the consistent answers I have received from successful professional leaders is to not try to stay ahead of the curve in information consumption. There is no meaningful value in being the first to know about something new other than feeding your ego. Do not be slave to FOMO. Instead embrace JOMO, the joy of missing out. Be very comfortable in admitting that you dont know the latest and greatest happening around product management. Instead, focus all your efforts in understanding your customers and adding value to them. This will pay you higher dividends.

And if something is really groundbreaking in product knowledge that you need to be aware of, it will eventually reach you. However, meaningful new knowledge is far and few. Most of the content being created everyday is just rehashing and repackaging of existing knowledge, which is best left ignored.


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