For project managers it would be nice if everything was always perfect: in other words, getting to focus on a single, well-organized and strongly supported project with a proactive and enthusiastic team. The reality however is often very different, for one reason or another, not only may the project have issues, but you might have to manage several of them at once.
It’s an all too common occurrence in project management, either due to covering for others or the organization not having the resources to get in additional management help. While the situation may not be ideal, when approached in the right way it is possible to make the best out of it and see things through to a successful conclusion. If you’re wondering how to make managing multiple projects easier, here are some tips to make it happen.
- Be clear with project stakeholders from the start
Though a project manager’s first reflex, especially when starting out, can be to have a “can do” attitude which leads to taking on a huge workload. While this may be a given when managing multiple projects, managing expectations of what can actually be done and in what timeframe can relieve a lot of pressure, as well as giving stakeholders a more realistic idea of how the project will progress.
- Identify your priorities
Your time is a finite resource and not all tasks which require it are created equal. As soon as possible and at regular intervals (such as every Friday afternoon) take the time to rank each of your upcoming tasks in order of importance and identify which you have to focus on. Try using the Critical Path Method for project management to organize your schedule.
- Create discrete time blocks
One of the biggest issues with project managers managing multiple projects is having your attention bouncing all over the place from one unrelated task to another. To make sure you are able to focus your mind, fully section off blocks of time where you will only work on one task. It can be difficult to master but the result will be far more effective.
- Don’t be afraid to delegate
With so much responsibility it can be tough to learn to let go and hand off some tasks to others. This only creates more pressure for yourself however. A good project manager will know that the secret to managing multiple projects successfully is being able to trust your team and delegate as much as possible, freeing your time and your mind for everything else you still have to do.
- Measure your own progress
While we’d all like to think that managing multiple projects is always possible with the right amount of planning and hard work, nobody can actually be Superman, some things really can just be too much. Be honest and objective about the projects and you and your team’s ability to handle them, if it is not physically possible to deliver them successfully it may be necessary to either get outside help or to delay or cancel some projects.