Project management is already difficult – so, trying to manage multiple projects at once is enough to push your stress level through the roof. However, it’s often the only choice you have in a busy corporate setting where lots of people depend on you.
4 Tips For Managing Multiple Projects
There are certain characteristics that every successful project manager must possess. These include patience, discipline, focus, and an innate ability to thrive under pressure.
And while you may be suited to manage one project at a time, it’s amazing how quickly these things can go out the window when you’re tasked with handling 5, 10, or 50 projects across multiple offices and locations all at once. As the projects compound so does the stress.
Managing lots of projects simultaneously may not be ideal, but it’s often what your job calls for. In these situations, it’s all about making strategic, calculated decisions. You may find the following tips helpful:
1. Become A Master Delegator
When managing multiple projects, you have no other choice but to delegate tasks to individual team members. But instead of looking at delegation as something you only do when you can’t handle it yourself, try to view it as the highly beneficial process that it is.
Delegation not only frees you up to focus on the big picture, but it also empowers your team and gives individuals ownership over particular aspects of a project. The long-term ramifications of this are positive in a profound way.
2. Be Strategic With Sequencing
While you have to juggle projects on a broad scale, be careful not to get overly caught up in managing multiple tasks at a micro level. Pick one task at a time to focus on. Better yet, try to limit yourself to just a few key tasks per day (rather than dozens of little ones).
“Research shows that attention residue — thoughts held over from a project you’re transitioning from — takes up valuable mental space, so the fewer switches you can make in a given day, the better,” Heidi K. Gardner writes for Harvard Business Review. “If you must multitask, then coordinate and group any compatible duties. For example, if you know you are going to need to answer phone calls at random intervals, work on another task that can be interrupted at any time.”
3. Use Software
You’re certainly familiar with project management software, but did you know there are project portfolio management (PPM) tools? PPM tools, like Meisterplan, are specifically designed to help project managers deal with the dynamic, complicated nature of handling multiple projects at once. These solutions typically offer assistance with resource management, strategic alignment, project prioritization, financial management, and analytics.
4. Manage Expectations
One of the more difficult challenges of project management is setting and managing the expectations of the client (as well as your team). When something in a project changes, you always have to filter your decisions through the expectations of different project stakeholders. This is an arduous task that is only simplified through honest, transparent, and regular communication.
Breathe In, Breathe Out
It’s an expression you’ve heard used a lot – “take a deep breath” – but there’s actually a lot of value in it. When managing multiple projects at once, there will inevitably be moments where you feel hopeless and overwhelmed. The physical act of pausing and taking a deep breath will slow your heart rate, recalibrate your mind, and put the situation into perspective. Nothing replaces solid project management strategies, but a couple of deep breaths go a long way towards establishing a sense of peace in the midst of chaos.
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