Productivity Tip: How to Work on Multiple Projects at the Same Time

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Image of a monthly project chartHave you ever had to work on several different projects concurrently?

It can sometimes feel as if you are literally plate spinning or frantically trying to juggle many balls and keep them up in the air.

Just how do you keep everything moving along at an even pace and get things done?

In this post I provide a few tips to help you effectively tackle a bunch of different projects at the same time.

Know thy projects.

Okay, you know you’ve got different projects floating around in your head, but specifically how many projects do you actually have going on at once? Do you have four projects or fourteen?

Take a minute to jot down the different projects you’re working on at the moment. The key here is to take a bird’s eye view at your work as opposed to focusing on all the tiny details.

In some cases, what might seem like a separate project could actually be part of a larger project, in which case you’ll actually have less projects to physically manage. Appropriately identifying what it is you have to work on will make your day-to-day tasks that much clearer to you.

Identify project milestones.

Now that you’ve identified your projects, it’s time to mark out all the major milestones for each. This is the time to break out your project into more detail. What are the final due dates for different items? What project components must get completed this week, month or quarter?

It may help to imagine projects as being composed of many different building blocks. For example, are you in the beginning block of your project, such as conducting research, interviews or basic planning, the middle block of your project, such as actively developing, writing or producing items, or at the end block, such as completing a report or putting the final touches on arrangements for an event or meeting?

Consider lining up your different projects and their individual milestones side-by-side in a physical list or chart to see exactly how far along you are with your work and what major milestones you’ll need to reach over the next couple of days and weeks.

Block out time to work on each project.

The only way to get work done is to actually sit down and do it! Try blocking out specific periods of time to make sure you accomplish work for different projects.

For example, you might decide to work for one hour on Project A, switch gears and work for one hour on Project B, take a break and then start working on Project C.

You could also apply this blocking out of time to particular days of the week as in “On Monday I’ll work solely on Project A, on Tuesday Project B, on Wednesday Project C. On Thursday I’ll do a review of my work to see where I need to focus my efforts for the remainder of the work week.”

Keep your head out of the sand.

One surefire way to mismanage many concurrent projects is to simply ignore them.

Don’t take a backseat approach to your projects; facing them head-on is the only way to truly know where projects stand.

Which projects are on-schedule, ahead of schedule or lagging up the rear? Where might you need to inject a bit more effort or energy to bring the project where it needs to be at this point in time? Where might you need to pull back or leave some items alone as you attend to more important issues?

Schedule regular periods of time in your calendar to review the status of your projects. Depending on how many projects you are working on these check-ins could be as infrequent as once a week, to once every day, to three times a day if things are really down to the wire.

Remember to view each check-in as a unique moment in time and make your decisions based on the information right in front of you.

How about you? When was the last time you had to juggle multiple tasks or projects? Which tip above do you think you would have helped you most in your time of need? Will you make a plan to use this tip in future? Join in the conversation and leave a comment below!

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Rashelle is a New York City-based professional organizer and productivity consultant who helps people get organized so they can stress less, have more fun, and be happier at home. Her work has been featured in Good Housekeeping, Fast Company, Cosmopolitan, The Washington Post, Business Insider, and The Atlantic. Get access to her free guide, 3 Smart Steps to Organizing Your Home, by clicking here.