How many projects can one person manage and still be effective? Managing many projects at once isn't everyone's cup of tea. You have to be able to manage projects efficiently and effectively, or you'll just get overwhelmed. Some of these skills can be learned; others you need to be born with.
"Great project managers pay attention to detail, yet never lose sight of the 'big picture', are flexible, and tolerate ambiguity," says Innovative Learning Group Senior Director of Client Solutions Gayle Holsworth. "We love spinning a lot of plates and don't 'sweat the small stuff'."
TIPS ON MANAGING MULTIPLE PROJECTS
- Every morning, take time to perform a mental check of each of your projects. Walk through each project, and think about what's due today, what's coming up next, and what's further down the road.
- Focus on one project at a time to complete all the tasks due on a particular day. This can help keep you from becoming overwhelmed, and switching back and forth between projects with same-day deliverables.
- Keep it simple. Less is more, especially from the communications standpoint. Share only "the need to know" with your client(s)/coworkers/team. People don't want to get bogged down with the day-to-day details; they just want you to get to the point.
- Prioritize. Distinguish between the urgent items and the nice-to-do items; and always complete the urgent items first.
- Use your tools and templates. There's no reason to recreate the wheel for each project. It just makes you less efficient and creates more work.
- Check in with your client(s)/coworkers/team after each major deliverable is completed or milestone is reached to see how things are going. Did the deliverable meet expectations? Has something else come up that's giving your client(s)/coworkers/team pause?
- Focus 100% of your energy on one client at any given time. No client should feel as though her/his project is one of 5, 10, or 20 projects you're managing.