As a project manager, you’re probably juggling a number of different projects on a daily basis. This usually involves handling multiple task lists and schedules, as well as communicating with different stakeholders.
Keeping track of everything can get difficult when you’re in charge of multiple projects. Managing resources is especially hard when you’re juggling more and more projects at the same time.
Without the right strategies in place, you risk burning out and failing to meet your deadlines.
In this guide, we’re going to discuss how you can manage multiple projects effectively while keeping stakeholders, your team, and yourself happy.
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8 strategies to manage multiple projects
While you’ll certainly get better at juggling projects with time, you can start using these strategies today to get better instantly.
Let’s go over these one by one.
1) Set expectations
Setting expectations is crucial for managing multiple projects successfully.
You’ll want to ask stakeholders about their expectations for a project before you start working on it. Get everyone on the same page so that stakeholders have realistic expectations.
It’s up to you to determine and communicate what your team can actually get done and when they can deliver. You may need to push back on deadlines or scope in order to complete a project. If the deadline isn’t flexible, the deliverable should be renegotiated as needed, and vice versa.
Set expectations for your team, too. Your team should be aware of the level of performance you need from them to get everything done on time and on spec.
Once you do this, you’ll be ready to move on to the next phase: planning out all your project tasks and activities.
2) Plan everything out
As cliche as it sounds, failing to plan really means planning to fail. If you want to avoid missing project deadlines when managing multiple projects, you’ll need to make sure to stay organized.
The best way to do this is to create a project plan that will help you anticipate risks and potential bottlenecks. A good plan makes it much more likely that your project is completed smoothly.
Start by identifying key project activities and estimating how long they’re going to take. You need these estimates to create a realistic project timeline.
Do this for every project you manage, and keep everything organized by putting together a list of all your projects, tasks, and milestones and keeping it in an easy-to-access location.
Having all of this information in a single place will help you have an easier time managing everything and allow you to stay on track to meet your deadlines.
Hubstaff Tasks makes it easy to see all your projects at a glance.
Once you’ve planned out your tasks, take advantage of your organizational efforts by reviewing your workload at the start of every workday.
Simply go through your to-do list, review important tasks, and try to be realistic about how many things you and your team can accomplish within a given day. If you use software like Hubstaff Tasks, most of this process is automated so it’s very easy.
Set priorities and make sure that you’re focusing on those tasks that require your immediate attention.
When working on multiple projects, weighing priorities can be a little more complex. In addition to prioritizing individual tasks, you should also figure out which projects have priority over others. Focus on those that have the tightest deadlines and the highest importance to stakeholders.
When multiple projects rely on the same resources, it’s easy to get sidetracked and spend a lot of time on tasks that don’t move the right projects forward. That’s why careful prioritization is so critical when you’re managing a lot of different projects.
Prioritization helps you focus more effectively and makes it easier to meet deadlines. By completing the right tasks at the right time, you keep all of your projects on track.
A great way to start prioritizing tasks and projects is to use a prioritization strategy called the Eisenhower Matrix. The strategy itself is named after Dwight D. Eisenhower, who famously said that he has “two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent”.
Based on this principle, the Eisenhower Matrix states that you should assign all your tasks to four categories:
- Urgent and important – Tasks that require your immediate attention and are crucial for success. You should tend to these tasks immediately.
- Not urgent, but important – These tasks don’t require your immediate attention, but they’re still important to move forward. You should schedule a time on your calendar to complete these tasks.
- Urgent, but not important – Tasks that are time sensitive but not very important should be delegated to a member of your team. You should focus your time on the first two categories.
- Neither urgent nor important – If you have tasks on your list that are neither urgent nor important, consider if you actually need to complete them at all. If possible, delete them from your to-do list.
Once you create your priority matrix, make sure to revisit it regularly because your priorities might shift as projects move forward or circumstances change.
Additionally, make sure to communicate with stakeholders regularly and keep them updated on the status of each project so that they know how things are moving forward.
4) Use time management techniques
If you want to manage multiple projects as effectively as possible, you should also look into time blocking.
Time blocking is a productivity technique in which you dedicate blocks of time to specific tasks. For example, you might dedicate the first 15 minutes of your workday to replying to emails, and then not check your inbox for the rest of the day.
By assigning a specific time block to a task, you’ll focus more easily and avoid switching between tasks without finishing anything.
When you’re juggling lots of different tasks and projects, though, you may need to be a little more strict about your scheduled work times. Start and stop at your scheduled time. You might be tempted to just keep going if you’re in the zone, but that cuts into time for other projects.
There’s a real risk of losing time and focus while managing multiple projects. To mitigate this, timeboxing is an effective way to keep from being distracted by intruding tasks from different topics.
Switching gears from one problem to the next is not only time consuming, but it drains your creative brain power. Do that as little as possible.
It’s also counterproductive to spend too much time on a single task when you have so many other priorities to manage.
Plan your week so you’re tuned into the right projects at the right time, and focus only on one for at least an hour at a time to maximize output.
5) Delegate tasks
You can’t do everything yourself, especially when you’re working on multiple projects at the same time.
Don’t be afraid to delegate important tasks to your team members. Knowing when to step back and let others do their thing is a part of being a great project manager.
Delegating is necessary if you want to complete projects on time and utilize your team in the most effective way possible. It will save you time, empower your team, and help you get more done.
In short, you should be looking to delegate as much as possible.
When delegating tasks, remember to provide team members with everything they need to complete whatever you assign to them, including the authority to make any necessary decisions.
That brings us to the next tip:
6) Don’t micromanage your team members
Project managers who aren’t comfortable delegating often do so begrudgingly. Then, they try to micromanage team members to do things exactly their way.
Don’t do that. It defeats the purpose of delegating. Plus, micromanaging puts pressure on your team, reduces productivity, and damages their trust in you.
While micromanagement gives you more control over how the project is executed, it demoralizes your team and makes team members anxious. It can also lead to burnout for everyone involved.
If you’re a micromanager, you need to come to terms with the fact that you can’t (and shouldn’t) control everything. Have faith in your team members and their skills. You hired them for a reason.
While you’re managing a lot of different projects, trusting your team to do their job well is not negotiable. Only then will you be able to effectively delegate tasks to ensure that your team meets deadlines and completes projects successfully.
7) Track progress
Make sure to track your progress across all of your projects at the same time. It’s easy to focus on each project separately instead of looking at the big picture. However, you need to see how everything is moving so that you can coordinate and meet all of your different deadlines.
By tracking the progress of all of your projects, you’ll be able to identify bottlenecks and address them quickly. This is especially useful when you must share resources.
Start tracking progress by creating a project outline that includes goals, milestones, and project KPIs (key performance indicators). Make sure to include your team members when drafting project outlines to make sure that project goals are realistic.
You can then use a project management tool like a Gantt chart to visualize how projects are progressing.
If you haven’t heard of the Gantt chart before, it’s a type of bar chart that’s used to illustrate a project’s schedule and status at a glance. It usually has all the project activities and tasks listed on the left and a time scale at the top.
Each task or activity is represented by a bar. Its length and position reflect the start date, end date, and duration.
A Gantt chart shows you all your project tasks and timelines so you can immediately see if you’re on-track.
8) Check in with your team regularly
Check in with your team regularly to get a sense of how each project is progressing. Encourage complete honesty so you can identify bottlenecks and issues that might be in the way.
A great way to do this is to have a daily stand-up meeting.
Stand-ups originate from the Scrum framework. Your team meets every day for a very short time — no more than 15 minutes — and every team member gives a quick update.
During those 15 minutes, each team member quickly goes over:
- What they’ve completed since the last meeting
- What they plan on completing by the next meeting
- Any blockers or things that are preventing progress
Be mindful of that 15-minute time limit. Especially with larger teams and multiple projects, it’s easy to take much longer. At Hubstaff, we use automated standups for daily updates so that our team members can focus their time on productive work.
Connecting with your team by checking in and holding stand-ups is great, but you should also encourage communication both ways. Your team shouldn’t hesitate to contact you whenever they have questions or concerns related to the project.
If you manage a remote-only team and rely on online communication, make sure that it’s centralized. Don’t make the mistake of using half a dozen different tools to communicate with your team members.
Use the right tool for the job. Nobody wants to dig through their email to find that document you sent last week. Keep communications organized by task and project so that everyone can easily find the information they need.
What is the best way to manage multiple projects?
What if we told you that there was a way to track all of your projects, assign tasks, and communicate with your team from a single location?
That’s exactly what you can do with Hubstaff Tasks.
Hubstaff Tasks is a project management software solution that enables you to create custom automated workflows, design project checklists, give out assignments, and share files with your team.
Hit all your deadlines on time.
Easily manage all your projects in one place.
Start managing multiple projects effectively
Managing multiple projects at the same time can be challenging even for experienced project managers. It involves keeping track of different schedules, juggling priorities, and staying organized as things change.
Though it’s difficult, using the right strategies makes this kind of project management much easier.
Do you balance multiple projects every day? What are some of the strategies that have worked best for you? Tell us in the comments.