Wouldn’t work and life be easier if we could have just one project to do at at time? It’s when we have to do more than one project at at time that we get overwhelmed. The opportunity to focus on one single project is not typically possible. At home we have laundry, dinner and paperwork. At work we have multiple areas we are responsible for and multiple projects within those areas. It’s hard to keep all these moving forward simultaneously.
Identify the goal
Before you start a project, be sure you know what the final goal is. This requires for you to keep the end in mind. When you identify the goal, remember to keep it simple, specific, budget friendly and deadline driven. Having these parameters will keep you moving forward.
Schedule with a time line and time allocated
Time lines drive all projects. Every project should have a completion date. It keeps each project aligned with the goal and also keeps you moving forward. If possible, keep your different project time lines synchronized so that the completion dates are staggered. It also gives you time to work well on each project.
Every project needs time allocated. When you schedule project work time, that’s the time to keep distractions minimized. Schedule by writing in your planner or entering time in your digital calendar. By writing these items in, you are committing to the work. This is the most powerful way to ensure you are working steadily on your projects.
Assess resources and communicate with your team
Evaluate what resources are available to you. In addition to the budget, what do you need to successfully complete the project. Who can help? Who is a valuable team member with a required skill set? What technology resources could be worthwhile? Managing multiple projects also means you may need different resources for each. Once you assess, put these resources into place and evaluate the effectiveness.
Your team is also a valuable resource. Who is partnering with you and taking on parts of the project? Delegate wisely by strengths of team members and schedule interim checkpoints for the project. Different teams may be required for managing multiple projects.
Assess risks and obstacles
Throughout the project, be sure you are aware of risks and obstacles. Address these quickly and directly to keep your project on task.
Tracking multiple projects
There’s a variety of tools to use to track your projects. This is not a time to keep information in your head. There’s trello, asana, teamwork or a simple spreadsheet. Update your tool at least weekly to be sure you are on track.
Here’s how this works for your home projects. You have laundry, dinner and paperwork to complete. To complete these, schedule days and times for each. You might cook Monday – Thursday and do one load of laundry each day. Or you can do laundry intermittent days and cook two of the other days. Paperwork can be a 5 minute triage daily and a one hour weekly administrative time.
For work projects, set your goals for each project and assess all your resources. Schedule ahead all the meeting times and chunk your project into manageable pieces. Set an uninteruppted power hour each day to work steadily on your project or a day a week to work solely on that project. Using time blocking is the way to accomplish small pieces of projects that lead to completion.
The biggest secret to managing multiple projects is smart calendaring and setting specific times to accomplish pieces of each project. Be brave and keep undistracted work times sacred to work on this deep work.