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From Chaos to Control: Managing Multiple Projects Like a Pro

Managing Multiple Projects

Managing multiple projects at the workplace can feel like a long trek over a steep mountain.

You encounter obstacles at every stretch. There is an eagerness to reach the peak of project completion faster. Your brain muscles pant and crave breath, trying to manage multiple projects with competing deadlines. Sometimes, you may feel overwhelmed with the strenuous journey and feel like giving up, right?

Don’t worry! It happens to the best of us!

Successful businesses worldwide are empowered by teams who successfully handle simultaneous projects. When planned strategically, managing multiple projects can become a cakewalk.

During the course of this blog, we’ll look at how to manage multiple projects simultaneously like a pro using some top strategies.

14 Proven Strategies to Manage Multiple Projects

Managing multiple projects can be overwhelming, but it is manageable if you know how to strategize, plan, and act on them.

Let’s look at the best strategies to equip you with the skills needed to organize, track, and deliver multiple projects with ease. Here we go!

1. Plan Ahead

Effective planning is the first step to managing multiple projects.

When you have numerous projects on board, with multiple clients and stakeholders pulling you across in different directions, a concrete plan can help you optimally allocate resources to deliver various projects successfully.

To start with, create a plan for every week. For example, list the tasks you wish to complete every Monday. Focus on time distribution between tasks. Also, allocate the right resources for the right job. Further, set a clear deadline to complete the tasks to eliminate any chance of procrastination and subsequent delays.

2. Set Long-Term & Short-Term Goals

Goals motivate you to work harder towards a shared vision. In a business environment, goals keep employees streamlined and focussed on their work. This ensures fewer chances of distraction leading to higher team productivity.

How to set goals?

  • Identify the requirements of all the projects that you manage.
  • Create a long-term goal for each project, say, goals you wish to achieve in a quarter.
  • Split up the long-term goal into smaller short-term goals. Split the goals on a monthly and weekly basis.
  • Set up frequent team interactions and review the goals to measure the project’s progress.

Yes, it’s that simple!

3. Prioritize Urgent Work

Task prioritization is necessary to know the urgency to complete multiple tasks across multiple projects.

When you are unclear about the task priority, you tend to take up the tasks in a haphazard manner resulting in lower output. On the other hand, when you are clear about which tasks require immediate attention, you can shift your focus to just that task and deliver excellent results on time.

You can use different methods to prioritize tasks like:

  • Eisenhower method: In this method, a task is divided into 4 categories: Critical and Urgent; Critical but not Urgent; Not Critical But Urgent; Neither Critical nor Urgent. So, you divide the tasks based on categories and proceed accordingly.
  • Pareto Principle: This principle follows the 80/20 rule that states that 80% of the results of a project comes from 20% of the tasks. So while choosing your priority tasks, you need to pick 20% of those tasks that can give you a good return on your investment.

4. Communicate Effectively

While pursuing multiple project schedules, setting expectations right from the start is important. For this, you need to communicate effectively. Establish the task priorities and task dependencies, who needs to complete which tasks, and more.

You must also encourage your team members to bring forth any query, however small it may sound. For example, communicate the goals with your team at the beginning of each quarter. Listen to their concerns and give them the flexibility to suggest project goals and task changes.

This way, the team feels involved in the project, resulting in better responsibility-sharing and smooth multi-project management.

5. Avoid Distractions

It is easy to get distracted when you are handling multiple projects.

Since you’re constantly switching from one task to another, your brain needs to reprogram to adjust to the new task. Also, you need to coordinate over calls and check endless emails. These distractions can reduce your attention span, thereby hampering productivity.

To tackle distractions, it is best to focus on one task at a time. Allot a dedicated timespan for each task and set the alarm to indicate the elapsed time. This will ensure that you do not feel the urge to look into your emails or messages every now and then.

6. Deploy a Robust Project Management Tool

Guess what the best way to manage multiple projects effortlessly is?

Yes, it’s onboarding a project management tool!

A good project management tool helps you:

  • Define clear-cut workflows
  • Establish task priorities
  • Delegate tasks effectively
  • Keep a check for workload management issues
  • Monitor progress in real-time

Let’s take the example of ProProfs Project to help you understand how to use a tool to manage projects with ease.

To create a project dashboard, add the tasks, assign resources, set a timeline, define tags, and set the percentage of progress of the tasks.

Watch this quick video to learn how to set up tasks in ProProfs Project.

Once you have created the project dashboard, your team will clearly understand what needs to be done and when.

As a project manager and leader, the tool also allows you to monitor progress how you like. You can switch between Gantt chart, Kanban board, and Calendar views with just a click.

Created project dashboard

The Gantt chart allows you to visualize tasks alongside their timelines and progress. This enables you to keep overlapping tasks with the same resources in check.

Gantt chart allows you to visualize tasks

The Kanban board lends you increased visibility into tasks at a glance. A Kanban card hold every information about a task – its name, deadline, progress percentage, file attachments, conversations, subtasks, and more.

Kanban board lends you increased visibility

You can even switch to the Calendar view to manage your project schedules. It gives you a view of all your tasks for the day, week, and month.

These intuitive project views help your team and you coordinate efforts and deliver multiple projects simultaneously.

Thus, task tracking is simplified, and multi-project management becomes a breeze.

Read More: Gantt Chart vs Kanban: What to Choose for Your Project

7. Refrain from Multitasking

As a team and project leader, you may feel you can multitask and get things done faster across all the project tasks. But that is not the case in reality. According to research, multitasking or context switching can reduce your productivity by 40%.

Here are some tips to avoid multitasking while working on multiple projects:

  • Pick one priority task and give it your undivided attention.
  • Turn off all the distractions like mobile, social media, etc.
  • Be thoroughly involved with your work. Do not let your thoughts wander to non-work activities.
  • Ensure you start the next task only after completing the previous task. Incomplete tasks hamper the progress of your project.

8. Stop Procrastinating

We all tend to procrastinate appointments, task completion deadlines, etc. Over a while, procrastination builds up extra stress and anxiety. This further affects the productivity of your regular tasks.

You can take a cue from the world’s top CEOs to combat procrastination:

  • The co-founder and COO of The Muse, Alex Cavoulacos, uses the 1-3-5 rule while managing multiple projects. She takes up one big project, three medium-level tasks, and five small things on any given day.

Following this method will keep you focused on the task at hand. Also, this ensures you clear your desk at the end of the day.

  • Author of the International Best Seller, The Four Hour Week, Tim Ferris, focuses on completing his tasks in batches. This means that at a time, he only takes up a specific job like writing and cuts off any other type of job like mail checking.

9. Automate Your Tasks

Automation helps you complete more tasks spread across multiple projects in less time.

Some redundant tasks like progress tracking, dependency setting, and invoice creation are best managed by software. By doing so, you free up valuable manpower resources and save significant time.

Some simple tips to automate project tasks are:

  • Identify the redundant tasks for automation.
  • Introduce task templates so that teams need not create a project dashboard from scratch.
  • Bring in automatic task assigning based on certain conditions.
  • Set notifications when tasks reach a particular level and take follow-up action.

10. Learn the Art of Saying “No

When was the last time you went on to provide help but lost out on your project responsibilities?

It is natural for us to want to help others. Sometimes, we get so involved that we fall short of our work responsibilities. Here comes the importance of saying no, diplomatically.

Sometimes, it is okay to refuse people and avoid taking extra workload. When you politely say “No” to your co-worker, you make them understand your plight and, at the same time, maintain a good relationship with them.

Read More: 15 Best Workload Management Tools for Teams in 2024

11. Encourage Delegation

Delegation of work is equally important as saying no to specific tasks.

As a project manager, you are overwhelmed with different project tasks and meetings. Many project managers are reluctant to delegate tasks because of fear of rework and less trust in their subordinates.

While you may be hesitant to delegate initially, you will soon realize the benefits of delegation within the team.

Delegation helps empower your team members with greater autonomy and allows you to focus on high-level tasks.

But how do you effectively delegate tasks to your subordinates? Follow these steps:

  • Identify the appropriate tasks for delegation.
  • Communicate the task nature clearly.
  • Understand the skill and interest level of your subordinates.
  • Give them complete authority to complete the task flexibly.
  • Avoid micromanaging and repose complete trust in your subordinates.

Read More: Essentials of Task Delegation in Project Management 

12. Review & Document Your Progress

It is important to introspect on your project progress to understand your strong and weak areas. Have you met your expected short-term and long-term goals? What were the challenges encountered by you while performing your tasks? What new skills did you acquire? Was there an opportunity to delegate more, and so on?

Also, make sure that you document every minute aspect of your project review. This helps you to handle the same challenges better next time.

13. Know What’s Flexible

When handling multiple projects, it’s important to know which deadlines are flexible and which are not.

Prioritize tasks that are critical and have little to no flexibility.

On the other hand, identify tasks that can be adjusted or postponed without major consequences.

Being aware of what’s flexible allows you to make better decisions on allocating your time and resources and enables you to be more adaptable when unexpected changes arise. However, be cautious not to compromise quality or overlook important details while making adjustments.

14. Manage Others’ Expectations

Managing others’ expectations is crucial when handling multiple projects.

Clearly communicate project timelines, priorities, and potential setbacks with stakeholders, team members, and clients. This helps set realistic expectations and avoid misunderstandings or disappointments later on.

Be transparent about any constraints or limitations impacting the project’s progress or delivery. Encourage regular communication to stay on the same page and address any concerns promptly. Managing others’ expectations also involves saying “No” when necessary and negotiating trade-offs to balance competing demands. Ultimately, project management fosters trust, collaboration, and accountability across the project team and stakeholders.

4 Common Challenges Managers Face When Managing Multiple Projects

Project management is not devoid of challenges. The most common challenges that a project manager faces while managing multiple projects include:

1. Competing Deadlines

Competing project deadlines can create a high-stress environment for project managers.

With limited resources and conflicting priorities, it can be challenging to determine which projects to prioritize and how to allocate resources effectively.

Thus, project managers must assess the impact of each project on the organization and stakeholders, negotiate deadlines when possible, and manage stakeholder expectations. 

Effective communication, delegation, and risk management strategies are essential to ensure that each project is delivered on time, within budget, and as per the expected quality standards.

2. Overlapping Resources

Overlapping project resources can create a complex and challenging situation for project managers and team members.

Managing conflicting demands can be difficult if multiple projects require the same resources, such as personnel, equipment, or budget. And this can lead to delays, overruns, and quality issues.

Here, project managers must identify potential resource conflicts early on, prioritize projects, and communicate effectively with stakeholders.

Optimal resource allocation and delegation strategies are crucial to ensure that all projects have access to the necessary resources and are used efficiently and effectively.

Ultimately, it’s about striking a balance between meeting project requirements and maximizing the use of available resources.

3. Lack of Communication

Lack of project communication can lead to misunderstandings, missed deadlines, and decreased morale.

It can also prevent team members from identifying and addressing issues early on, leading to project failure.

Thus, project managers must establish clear communication channels, define roles and responsibilities, and encourage regular updates and feedback.

Smooth team communication fosters collaboration, builds trust, and ensures all team members are working towards a common goal.

4. Scope Creep

Project scope creep can be a daunting challenge for project managers.

As project requirements change or new features are added, keeping the project on track and within budget can be difficult.

Project managers and leaders must establish a clear scope and communicate it effectively with stakeholders to control scope creep. They must also set a change control process to manage any requests for scope changes.

Efficient risk management and contingency planning strategies are also crucial to mitigate the impact of scope creep.

Manage Multiple Projects like a Pro

Managing multiple projects is inevitable as a project manager. It may look overwhelming in the beginning. But, by incorporating steps like prioritizing tasks, avoiding multitasking, and using tools, you can become a pro in handling multiple projects simultaneously.

Looking for a tool to manage multiple projects with ease? ProProfs Project could be the right fit for you. The tool lets you create project dashboards, prioritize tasks, automate repetitive ones, and monitor progress in real-time. Also, get hold of some fantastic features like shared file management, efficient client billing, project analysis on a single dashboard!

Frequently Asked Questions

Qn. How do you manage multiple priorities?

Ans. Shortlist the most urgent priority and work on it first.

Qn. What do you do when priorities change quickly?

Ans.  Keep the communication open with the team, reassess the tasks and reallocate the right tasks to the right resources.

Do you want a free Project Management Software?

We have the #1 Online Project Management Software for effective project management.

About the author

David is a Project Management expert. He has been published in elearningindustry.com, simpleprogrammer.com. As a project planning and execution expert at ProProfs, he has offered a unique outlook on improving workflows and team efficiency. Connect with David for more engaging conversations on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.