When I first switch from being an individual contributor to a manager, I really struggled with the day-to-day, feeling productive, feeling useful.

As an individual contributor I have a list of things I need to do every day and I measure my productivity and usefulness by whether I’ve committed code, if I had completed a feature. 

I felt that those were very black and white things that I can easily measure and when I switched to a manager, the number of tasks that I worked on has increased so much that on a daily basis, it was really hard to measure progress and productivity.


Here are a few ways that I help myself to really get into a state of mind where I  feel productive and useful.

Reframe how I measure productivity. The things I do has a longer runway it could be three months or it could be six months before I see the fruits of my labour so I no longer measure my productivity by daily tasks or daily completion of tasks.

My tasks now take more than a day so using that as a measurement can be frustrating.

I don’t measure by completion, I measure by daily activity. For example, I measure by ensuring that my one-on-ones are recurring and making sure if I have to miss one that I reschedule it. And if I have actions from those one-on-ones that I follow through with them which can subsequently mean more meetings and more follow on one-on-ones.

Another way I measure productivity is to ensure whenever I get any feedback that I follow through with letting the other person know right away (if positive) or follow up with getting more feedback (if feedback received is negative).

My day to day is govern by my calendar so I help myself feel productive by making sure I check off the activities I have to do each day.

Being an individual contributor previously, sometimes it’s easier to think that I’ve really impacted the team because I solved a really tough technical challenge but as a manager sometimes you have to pull back and enable the team because as a manager you’re now amplifying others. If individually team members are doing great then as a team they will do even better and it’s your job to observe how the team is, how to give feedback to different individuals and support them as unique individuals with different levels of support.

So here’s the mindset changes that I deploy to help me feel productive in my day-to-day as a manager.

Comment below: Which mindset hack would you use?


Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash