The term "managing up" has a bad reputation. Mainly because people associate the practice with brown-nosing and manipulation. However, truly managing your manager has nothing to do with kissing feet, and everything to do with becoming a better employee. Not to mention all of the benefits that go along with keeping your manager happy and out of your hair.
Start by learning about your boss. A busy boss doesn't always have the time to discuss plans, next steps, and hear about your issues. So find out when they have free time for you and what their schedule looks like. Do they like to talk about things? Do they prefer phone calls, texts, emails, or online chat? The easiest way to find out is to ask.
Stay flexible. Start planning meetings with your boss when it works best for them. This may require staying late or coming in early, but it will be well worth it. One employee wrote a blog entry in HR Bartender explaining how he simply volunteered to catch coffee with his boss after he saw him get turned down by another executive. The offer turned into a regular thing. Now he has 15 minutes of dedicated face-time that would have otherwise been impossible to obtain.
Hone your style to theirs. Some managers are extremely focused on the details and others only want to see results. Ask co-workers who have positive relationships with your boss what style is preferred. A great conversation or email can easily be misunderstood if the tone and detail is not correct. This may take some trial and error, but keep working at it.
Don't force it. Some managers don't want to meet in person and prefer the communication in writing. This is okay too. This will get you to be succinct and save time for everyone. After your send off the correspondence, you have more time to work on your own projects and maybe enjoy that lunch of yours.
Come with something to show. The most important element in this equation is to be prepared to show your performance. Work hard and come with plans, suggestions, results, and anything that has been asked for. True performance will be apparent to your boss. Don't over-promise or over-commit. Just communicate openly about projects and ensure that your boss is kept up-to-date and has the opportunity to get involved.
Remember, this is not a popularity contest. This is ensuring that your boss has the time and the opportunity to get and give feedback. All of this is easier said than done, but it can go a long way to reducing some work related stress. And if you didn't notice, just as much of this plan is about managing yourself as it is about managing your boss.