A personal user manual (PUM) is a document that allows you to explicitly communicate how you best work, who you are as a human being and provide others advice, ideas and a framework to best interact with you.
We often (incorrectly) assume how others work which leads to wasted time, energy, and negative emotions.
We learn about one another’s likes, dislikes, and unique ranges of human experiences through trial and error over a long period of time. A personal user manual is a shortcut to a deeper understanding of one another in our own words which allows us to communicate and collaborate in a much more effective, efficient, and enjoyable way!
We can’t read each other's minds. My idea of fun probably isn't the same as yours! I have no idea what time you work, what your preferred communication platform is, any other commitments you have, what your likes/dislikes are, what your strengths/weaknesses are, how you best work, what type of feedback you like etc.
Some people like to analyse before talking, others (like me) sometimes blurt out the first idea that pops into their heads. Understanding this allows us to create an environment where everyone’s ideas can be shared. Communication is the key to effective personal and work relationships and this acts as a great tool to facilitate those conversations!
You can essentially skip past months/years of trial and error. Rather than making assumptions about how people best work, we can simply ask instead!
Think of it like an extended FAQ for people! :)
Open up a text editor, grab a template from below, and start writing! :)
I'd encourage you to spend just 5 minutes with a template or blank doc and just start writing. I spent ages overthinking things but as soon as you start writing you'll find that words start flowing. Even if you don't feel comfortable sharing it with others just yet they're a really powerful form of developing self-awareness on their own! By thinking about how others perceive us we can learn some really interesting things about ourselves too. Asking others for their perspectives helps to cover our blind spots and again, helps us to find out more about ourselves!
If you learn by example, or are just curious of how best to interact with me, check my manual out here: Aidan's Personal User Manual. Thanks to Atlassian for their excellent template!
Encouraging one or two people in your team(s) to spend 5 minutes putting something together and sharing can help to create a more open, healthier, and happier team :)
Check out these great links which can help you dive a little deeper into running the Personal User Manuals practice with your team, customers or stakeholders.