How to Manage Multiple Projects

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Time is the scarcest resource and unless it is managed nothing else can be managed.
— Peter Drucker

Time management is a critical skill to have in the business world. If you don’t know how to manage your time well, the simplest tasks can end up getting looked over. I think the best place to lay the foundation for time management skills is in college. With so many different activities competing for your time along with your school work and other obligations, you need to master your schedule quickly.

Personally, I love having a lot on my plate, I think it makes life more interesting, and I feel really productive. Here’s what I found helpful in managing multiple projects in my jobs and life.

Create a to-do list

When there’s a lot on your plate, the best thing to do is get everything out of your head and onto paper (or a notes app). I find that if I don’t write down tasks right away, I’ll end up forgetting them. When I’m in meetings, and an action item comes up for me, I’ll bold it in my notes and then add it to my task list later. If I receive an email with tasks I need to complete, I will add them to my to-do list right away.

I have a few different to-do lists, call me crazy, but it’s what works. I use OneNote to keep a running task list, which is separated by larger action items (ex: communications to write is the list title, and underneath it, I will list out everything I need to write). I also use my Happy Planner to create daily to-do lists, typically I’ll look at my running list and organize my day based on the priorities, which brings me to the next point.

Prioritize tasks

Your manager does not expect you to get to every single thing on your list done right away. They understand that you need to prioritize your workload. If you are ever confused as to what should be prioritized, set-up some time to speak with your manager to review your list and determine what you should be working on first. Don’t be afraid to do this! If you don’t, you could end up spending time on something that isn’t due for a while and neglect a task that is needed to be completed right away.

Once you’ve been at a company for a while, you will start to see patterns in the workload and similar tasks. This will allow you to start prioritizing your tasks yourself. Again, don’t be afraid to ask your manager if you need assistance! I guarantee that they will appreciate you wanting to be on the same page as they are in terms of deadlines.

Block time in your calendar

In my second job, I was responsible for managing a senior vice president’s calendar. I learned a lot of things from them, including blocking time in your schedule for heads-down work. When you have a lot of meetings in the day and need to get something with a hard deadline done, the best way to ensure you’ll have time in the day to do it is to block time in your calendar.

Now, just a side note with this, if an important meeting comes up, you might need to adjust the time you previously blocked for yourself.

Follow-up with key stakeholders

If you have multiple projects on your plate, my guess is that you have different stakeholders involved with the tasks. Set some time for yourself to follow-up with them, inform them of your progress, and if you need anything from them to complete your work. Often times, I will need to follow-up with someone a few different times. So that I don’t keep bugging them daily, I make a note in my to-do list when the last time I followed up with them was and add a date to follow-up with them again.

I hope these tips help you! If you use any other productivity tips, please leave them in the comments below! I’d love to learn from you too.