Organizing multiple projects might seem difficult - like walking on a tightrope while balancing a stack of plates on your head. But lots of business owners still find a way to dazzle while managing all of their tasks and meeting deadlines. It doesn’t take superhuman abilities. But before you can fly through the air on a trapeze, you’ve gotta ace the basics.
Get out your unitard and prepare to be amazed. I’m gonna walk you through exactly what you need to know to put on your best show, whether you’re a project manager, a small business owner, or the ringleader of a three-ring circus. Thankfully, you won’t be jumping through any flaming hoops. [Cue applause.]
When you know what needs to get done, you can make a plan. This first step is essential for completing your projects.
👉 Pro tip: Brainstorm one project at a time. Organizing your projects separately helps you focus and saves you time and stress later on.
List everything you can think of that needs to happen to complete the project. And I mean everything. This doesn’t mean you can’t add other stuff later on. In this stage, you’re just recording anything that comes to mind so you can sort out your action plan next.
Once your thoughts are all written down, it’s time to organize them. Focus on what’s actionable. Highlight what you can make progress on and make a list.
Just because you think you can multitask, doesn’t mean you should. In fact, some experts think multitasking is a myth. We don’t actually work on multiple things at once. Our brain rapidly switches between tasks, so it just seems like multitasking. That’s why the art of knowing what to focus on, and when, is huge when you’re managing multiple projects. You want to be able to pay close attention to the important stuff. That means being clear on your priorities.
When you’re training for a balancing act, you need to learn how to walk the tightrope before you start stacking plates. Knowing how to prioritize sets you up for success in the long run.
Your first priorities should be any tasks other steps in your project depend on. Getting these out of the way first means the rest of the project can move forward.
What are the steps with the biggest risks? If you can, take care of those first to manage setbacks and increase your chance of success. If those challenges can't be solved, then it’s better to catch that in the beginning so you can change your approach if needed.
If there are actionable items on your list that are time-sensitive, they should move to the top so you can meet their deadlines.
Group similar items together so you can focus on one kind of task at a time. Some business owners categorize their work by blocking out time to focus on different things, like reading and responding to emails in the morning, reporting in the afternoons, or only taking meetings on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Working on similar items helps you be more efficient since you’re not being pulled in different directions.
Take a look at your list of action items for each project and organize them in order of priority. Any time sensitive items? What needs to happen first, then next, and so on? Can anything be grouped together?
Deadlines are the pulse of a well organized project. When walking the tightrope, you’ve gotta keep your eyes fixed on where you’re going. Your due date is your focal point. Setting deadlines helps you stay on track as you work.
Decide where you want your project to be by a certain date. Then, work backwards to set checkpoints for where the project should be by a certain time in order for that end goal to be met. Setting these markers helps you stay on track, and still remain flexible as to how you get there. It’s also motivating since each milestone you hit clearly brings you one step closer to the finish line.
It’s not about setting just any deadline. You want due dates to be realistic. How much time do you actually need to complete each action item? Use that information to set reasonable deadlines. Don’t forget to factor in some buffer time for unexpected setbacks. Since they’re based on the actual work you’ll be putting in, you can set deadlines that are motivating, but still achievable.
Map those deadlines to your calendar! Block out time in your schedule so you’ll actually get the work done. If you do miss a deadline, just revisit your timeline and update your plan.
It’s too easy to lose track of things when you try to hold everything in your head. When there are a bunch of ideas and promises floating around in your mind, you can make simple mistakes that have a big impact. You already have a lot to juggle, so make it easier on yourself by using a system to store it all.
Everything should be recorded somewhere: Your calendar, your task management system, your notepad, your planner. Make sure you’re saving your commitments, ideas, changes, and your dated action items somewhere reliable so the details won’t get lost.
Your new mantra: If it’s not written down, it doesn’t exist.
This step is everything. It might sound obvious, but your work isn’t going to get done by itself. For your projects to move forward, you have to show up with the commitment to follow through and meet the deadlines you set. This one’s about integrity. If you say you’ll do something, do it.
Of course, it can be easy to over-promise or stretch yourself too thin. If you’ve taken on too much and realize you won’t meet a deadline, communicate about it and make a new commitment.
The point here isn’t about never being wrong or making mistakes. Life happens! It’s about staying aware of your own bandwidth so you know what you can commit to and seeing your work to the finish line.
If you've taken on too much and realize you won't meet a deadline, communicate about it and make a new commitment.
You know your priorities, you’ve organized your work, and you know your deadlines. Now it’s time to focus and get it done.
You don’t have to do everything by yourself. Why do you think every superhero has a sidekick? Whether you’re leading a virtual team or working in person, have one teammate or ten, delegating is key for managing multiple projects.
What are you great at? What are your strengths? What comes easily to you? Take on those tasks. Work that’s prime for delegation: Anything you’re not awesome at, tasks someone else is better qualified for, or items that really just don’t require your expertise. You don’t need to perform solo. Lean into your team and your resources.
Especially when tracking multiple projects and working with many people, it’s important to stay in the loop so you’re all on the same page. Follow up with your team members on their assignments. Let your teammates and clients know what you’re working on and what your timelines are. Communicate your expectations for assignments. Keep everything in one place so there’s one source of information to avoid any confusion.
It takes lots of unique acts to put a circus together. Not only does the work get done faster when you delegate, but it’s also a great way to build team trust. When you allow others to take responsibility for parts of your project, it gives them the opportunity to deliver on promises and put their own skills to use. This helps your teammates feel valued, and you get the support you need. Win win!!
The final and most important part of managing multiple projects is to be kind to yourself. You might not always complete everything you set out to do, and that’s okay! Take it easy on yourself and be flexible. If you miss deadlines, rethink your timeline, acknowledge what didn’t work out, and let your team know the new plan.
You’re a human, not a machine. While perfectionism sounds great and your brain is capable of amazing things, change is inevitable. Learning to adapt and go with the flow is crucial.
Organizing multiple projects doesn’t take super human abilities. With prioritization, time management, careful planning, teamwork, and integrity, you have a strong start to completing your projects successfully. [The crowd goes wild!]
If you’re an expert project management acrobat, put these tricks to practice with your own team.
When I'm not writing blog posts and help articles, I'm chatting with customers. I help you get the answers you're looking for so GQueues runs as smoothly as possible for you and your teams. And who would I be without my oatmilk latte in the morning? ☕️