If you are in a position where you have to manage multiple projects at once, then you are most likely making progress in your career as a project manager. However, prospective and even prestigious as it may be, the work can be downright confusing and tiring. As a matter of fact, a company’s faith in its most prospective project managers could actually be leading them to burnouts due to the extra load, not to mention, increasing the chances of human error to a significant degree.
None of that, however, should be a problem that talented and experienced project managers cannot handle, as long as they know how to. To help PMs handle their multitasking without exhausting themselves and produce the results expected from them at the same time, here are a few effective tips to consider.
Identification of Importance: Prioritizing Your Projects
Depending on the kind of position you are in and the projects you are handling, variable importance will always be a factor. If you can prioritize your projects in accordance with their importance, deadlines, and relevance, you will also be able to prioritize your own time to match. It’s an effective strategy to keep project managers from getting overwhelmed by all their responsibilities.
Identification of Importance: Prioritize Your In-Project Goals
Now, this one is more complicated, but also more important. Every project is usually divided into multiple stages and development cycles, so the idea here would be that of identifying and accordingly prioritizing the important and immediate goals of every project that is placed under your care. Consider the following steps to get a proper hold of the idea we are sharing here.
- Create a single, unified list of goals from all the projects and sort them in accordance with their priority in your own overlying timeline
- Assign, reassign and redirect your team members to fulfill those goals in each project
It’s an excellent strategy to not just centralize your priority list, but it can also be quite effective for intelligent asset management.
Use the Portfolio Kanban Management System
In order to systematically and simultaneously manage all aspects of the multiple projects under your care, the Portfolio Kanban management system would be an ideal tool. The software company Kanbanize offers a comprehensive guide to Portfolio Kanban and the necessary software tools to make multitasking with even enterprise-grade projects a lot easier than it would be otherwise. After mastering the Portfolio Kanban system, project managers can expect the following advantages:
- The PM will learn to intelligently break down large projects into smaller sections for efficient management
- The particularly large projects can be broken down with Portfolio Kanban until the MMFs are identified and interlinked
- The interface will provide an easy way to track, monitor, guide, supervise and change various aspects of the projects
- Progress will be transparent via a centralized interface with Portfolio Kanban
Learn to Time Block
In case you are not doing it already, learn to time block, or you may find it extremely difficult to multitask as a project manager. To understand the principle at play here, go through the following aspects of intelligent and agile time blocking, but you will have to be the one to implement them properly in your specific situation:
- Set an amount of minimum and maximum time every working day for handling each project
- Stick to the set lower/upper timelines, even if it isn’t necessary on some days
- It aids workflow and rhythm – something that is continuously interrupted while multitasking without time blocking
- Be agile enough to know that if at times those time blocks are becoming productivity blocks, adaptability is important
Handle the “Human Error” Factor with a Focus Boost
The time block method we just discussed is not just going to be effective in creating a workflow, but it will also be equally important for reducing the chances of human error. The thing about us is, although we have created machines, they did not inherit an issue that plagues all of us in varying degrees; the more pressure we are put under, the more likely we are to make mistakes. As a matter of fact, we will often make mistakes even without pressure, but the error percentage will increase exponentially when put under pressure.
As a project manager in charge of multiple complex projects, the same applies to you as well, so you will have to work on maintaining focus, even amongst somewhat chaotic situations. A few tips for boosting focus from an individual perspective so that it can be reflected on the work are as follows:
- Find a quiet place to work, even if you have to move outside the office at times
- Get your 8 hours in, even if it means you have to take short naps in between work
- Multitasking needs to be organized as well, create smaller time blocks for each segment within your broader time blocks
- Learn to depressurize and destress to rejuvenate your mind
Use Delegation as an Effective Way to Divide Work
It is important to accept that you cannot manage it all alone, so you need members from each of your projects to handle temporary or minimal leadership positions for you. They will still report to you of course, but you will hold them responsible for the tasks delegated to them. A few tips to do that effectively are as follows:
- Identify assets, aka, the most talented and experienced employees in each project
- Delegate responsibilities to each asset that suit their expertise and experience
- Introduce the concept of personal liability to each employee and hold them accountable for completing their individual goals
Delegation is not a way to skip responsibility, but a widely used and successful method to create a hierarchy for perfect management of each project.
There are other lessons and tricks that are more specific to each industry, but every one of the tips on this list should be widely applicable, irrespective of the kind of projects the PM is handling.