I wish I was better at multitasking. Things keep on piling up even after investing so much time and effort. Why is there such a limited time to manage my projects?
Can you relate to these lines? Don’t worry; you aren’t alone in this. Most project managers face similar challenges—especially when managing multiple projects. Reaching the necessary milestones in more than one project on time and with efficiency can be challenging. Fortunately, there are some strategies you can apply to handle multiple projects with ease. Let’s zero in on the ones that top managers vouch for.
Empower your subordinates to take decisions
Things get complicated when you have to take a decision for every small step of a project. And complications multiply when you are handling a number of projects. Rather than keeping the decision-making power to yourself, it is better to empower your subordinates. Of course, you must ensure that the person is capable of handling the responsibility.
An added advantage of doing so is that your team members will feel more valued. This is why you shouldn’t just dictate the responsibilities to them. The better approach is to show them how their decisions will impact the overall project. Keep your doors open to allow them to take your advice. Doing so will ensure they don’t feel burdened.
For example, it might interest you to know that Netflix founder Reed Hastings, in his book “No Rules Rules,” talks about how their organization is already following this approach in every department. No wonder Netflix has evolved so much in the last few years! They had a few pitfalls, too, but overall, the strategy has reaped fruitful rewards.
Pro Tip: Share the success stories of your subordinates with others. This will keep everyone motivated and encourage them to make decisions on their own.
Cut short the meetings
Isn’t it shocking that 68 percent of US professionals lose time due to poorly organized meetings? Almost 72 percent of UK professionals and 74 percent of German professionals lose their productive time due to the same reason.
To reduce the time wasted on meetings, circulate a clear agenda among attendees. It is a common practice to share incomplete agendas like “Budget Challenges.” The attendees don’t have sufficient information to prepare for the meetings in such cases. The agenda should have clearer sentences like “How to reduce our spending by 50k by the end of 2020?”
Also, many managers complain that attendees are often late for meetings. The attendees, on the other hand, believe meetings often start 10-15 minutes after the scheduled timing. A trick many managers use to deal with this is to set the start time at irregular times – such as scheduling the meeting for 2:37 pm instead of 2:30 pm.
Save your meetings from hijacking. Many attendees bring their own agendas from another project that might be irrelevant to your meeting. Ask such individuals politely to discuss the same in a separate meeting dedicated to such topics only.
Last, but not the least, ask the attendees to confirm their availability. When they are also involved in multiple projects, there are chances that two meetings might clash. This will result in unnecessary delays.
Pro Tip: Have a “No Meeting” day every month or 15 days. The team members should work on their respective tasks only on such a day.
Choose the project management software wisely
A single, straightforward project can be easily managed with spreadsheets and checklists. But as the number of projects increase or they become more complex, the need for professional project management software arises. When you are searching for project management software, compare the features carefully before finalizing. A lot of the tools have demo videos and free trials to help you make better decisions. Here are some of the project management tools popular across the globe:
- ProofHub: For around 20 dollars a month, you can manage ten projects on this tool. To manage unlimited projects, you will have to pay 150 dollars a month. With a simple and well-structured UI, this tool allows you to delegate tasks and assign user roles. Other essential features include tracking of project history, online team discussions, and secure file storage.
- Podio: Workflow automation – a necessity when managing multiple projects – is possible with Podio. You can customize this app with if-this-then-that logic, thereby automating project budget tracking and sales pipeline. This app allows you to share large and encrypted files too.
- Workzone: It’s possible to view project statuses with Gantt charts if you are using Workzone. This tool lets you set permissions for users to access files, tasks, and projects. This feature comes in handy when you need to show the status to your clients. The users can also create individual, personalized to-do lists on Workzone.
- Buildertrend: Specially designed for remodelers, home builders, general and specialty contractors, BuilderTrend comes with task management, staff calendar, bid management, permit management, supplier management, and myriad other features.
- Cage: Apart from managing and creating multiple projects, Cage allows you to conduct video calls with your team, vendors, and clients. Protect your projects with this management tool, with a password protection feature.
- Honorable Mentions: Popular project management tools like Airtable, Asana, Trello, Zoho Projects, and Clarizen are also suitable for different projects.
Pro Tip: Test a tool with a small group of people. After you receive positive feedback, purchase the premium version and ask your entire team to join it.
By delegating the tasks to an individual or a small team, you can get rid of the burden that comes from trying to handle multiple projects alone. Delegation doesn’t mean you aren’t in control of that task. It’s just that you are managing it rather than working on it alone. To effectively delegate a part of a project, communicate the purpose of the project clearly and comprehensively.
The team members should know their responsibilities, along with the relevant deadlines. They must have workbooks, user guides, and necessary manuals that support the task that they will handle. While delegating, keep asking relevant questions to ensure that each member has understood the task thoroughly. Share the details of the people they are supposed to contact in case of any confusion or query.
Keep a track of the tasks periodically. While doing so, ask if they need any additional resources or if there is an unforeseen obstacle. Don’t forget to give positive feedback where due to keep them going.
However, tracking the status shouldn’t mean micromanaging. Most team members are not comfortable with it. It kills the scope of creativity and prevents employees from going the extra mile to deliver their best. If you micromanage, your team members might work just to complete their daily hours. Hence, best to avoid it.
Pro Tip: Don’t assign too many tasks without setting order of importance.
Use Parkinson’s Law to your advantage
According to Cyril Northcote Parkinson, the famous British author, “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” This statement became Parkinson’s Law and is widely used to efficiently manage time. Use it to your advantage by making deadlines tighter. Offer incentives to those who finish a particular task early. Such an approach not only spares an ample amount of time but also gives your team some time to relax.
Parkinson’s Law is applicable to you too. Keep challenging yourself by setting up a stricter time limit. You will be surprised to see the additional time you will get to manage other tasks.
Pro Tip: When setting tighter deadlines for your team, have a buffer time to manage unexpected challenges. Don’t communicate the same with your team beforehand though, else it might kill the purpose.
The Bottom Line
A mix of all the above strategies will make it easier for you to handle various projects. In a short span of time, you will emerge as a resourceful leader in your organization. That said, it is always crucial to continuously modify the strategies as per the changing scope and needs of the project.
So, which strategies do you think are the best for your projects?