Handling multiple projects simultaneously could be a challenge for many. I have had the opportunity of working on multiple projects simultaneously with different objectives and requirements.
I must say that it’s not a piece of cake. It’s hard to make your way to achieving success in all the tasks when you are managing multiple projects.
Since I have been doing it for quite some time, so I kind of enjoy it!
On a lighter note, God also took my multi-tasking skill quite seriously so he bestowed me with twin boys. Now I am managing multiple projects both in my personal and professional lives :)
Here I am sharing with you some quick tips that I use to manage multiple projects simultaneously.
My number#1 tip is ‘be organized’. You cannot manage multiple tasks or projects without getting things organized at your level. Project status, task deadlines, team availability, everything should be on your tips. Basically, the idea is to be at the top of your obligations.
You can do it by using any of your favorite project management (PM) software. (My favorite is Asana). Here are some of the things that you can do using PM tools:
Create separate activity log for each project. Add each and every task related to the projects. And remember, no task is small enough to not find a place in your list.
Assign each task to respective team member including you. It’s very important to assign tasks to yourself. Even if your task is just to ‘review the work of team’, add it to the activity log and assign it to yourself
Add a deadline to tasks. If there is a recurring task, add it as a recurring event. For example, I usually work with my clients to manage their social media account that is an on-going task. So, I add it as a recurring task.
I also create a list of tasks for non-project work, for example, follow up with the client, update social media account, study for PMP exam etc.
By updating your PM software with these details, you can easily scan the list on your name to see what your duties are and what are the tasks assigned to your team
“Quick tip: Try using PM software to send emails to your team and client. It will make it easier to track the communication at a later stage in case of need”.
Even if I use my PM software for my daily tasks, a weekly review is very important. Sometimes you might have some surprise tasks/projects from the client, which needs to be included in your day plan. It will affect your overall weekly deadlines.
At the beginning of my career, one of the most challenging parts of my work was to accommodate any new tasks in my schedule that comes in the middle of the day. But very early in my career, I understood that being flexible is as important as going with the plan.
At the end of every week, I review my activity log to see which tasks need to be on high priority in the coming week.
“Quick tip: it’s advisable to create your activity logs on Fridays so that you do not get lost on Mondays.”
If you have a team working under you, it is equally important to manage the time of your resource.
When you have the same group of people working on different projects, it is critical to know the time schedule of your team. When are they busy? when are they on leave? when have they free time?
Some of us do use excel sheet to track the time schedule of the team. It is a good option but it needs to be updated in real time. So, for that, ou require a tool.
Resource guru is a good resource management tool that shows you in real time about the schedule of your team.
“Quick tip: Be transparent to your team about the upcoming projects to keep them ready for the new tasks.”
Even if you are managing multiple projects, it’s a fact that at one point of time you can physically do only 1 thing. So, based on the project deadlines and criticality, prioritize your tasks.
You just do not need to prioritize the projects but also prioritize specific tasks related to each project. In a day, you might have to do 2 things from project A, 1 thing from project B, 2 things from project C and so on.
The work schedule or WBS (work breakdown structure) of each project will help you to prioritize your task.
“Quick Tip: Create a daily to-do list for yourself to make sure you do not miss out any of the important tasks.”
I believe that communication is the key to the success of any project. When handling multiple projects, you need to communicate with the stakeholders of each project regularly and effectively so that you know about any issues in advane that needs to be taken care of.
Effective communication should be the #1 traits of a project manager.
Written communication is important for future reference in case of any dispute. Sometimes client changes the scope and still expects the project to be completed by the same deadline and budget. In that situation, it is very important to politely let him know the initial settlement. In those cases, apart from your project documents (project charter, WBS, project plan etc.) having email threads handy is equally important to avoid scope creep.
“Quick Tip: Even if you have a verbal communication with any of the stakeholders, it is advisable to put the discussion in writing after the call/meeting.”
In nutshell, I would say that all you need is to be calm and not get panic when your plate is full or overflowing. Just follow the rules and believe in your abilities!
These are just some of the quick tips that I use to move successfully through my day. I would love to know your favorite mantra for managing multiple projects.