12 Tips on Managing Multiple Projects, Competing Priorities and Tight Deadlines
When asked the question, "Are you good at juggling deadlines, projects and various demands?" Most of us would immediately say yes! Without a doubt, multitasking is a typical routine activity in our work culture.
As a project manager, you are likely faced with multiple projects and deadlines, all of which have top priority. Sometimes, just when I think (or imagine) things are going smoothly, a crisis erupts, priorities change and the rush of fire-fighting mode is on. In the midst of this frenetic activity, there are still the required work of answering emails, making phone calls, attending meetings, preparing reports, updating status and schedules, plus all the other expected and unexpected interruptions throughout the workday...
So, how do you become an effective, productive juggler? The answer is: Strategy + Action. Here are 12 quick tips to help you master the skill:
First things first! Do a brain dump - Capture all your projects and routine tasks with their impending deadlines either on a piece of paper or on a digital note-taking app
Record and summarize the amount of estimated completing time for each item on the master list
With the help of key stakeholders, pinpoint and rank the "real" priorities - Always keep your eyes focused on the big picture
Make a plan
Evaluate the trade-offs between project size and complexity, cost, urgency, risk, and stakeholder value
Divide and conquer - Apply the chunking technique by break big task down into smaller, more manageable parts
Track how you use your time - Check out The 10 Best iOS Time Tracking Apps in 2016
Gain control by creating a daily schedule for yourself - How to Manage Your Time in 9 steps
Organize yourself with systems that eliminate time-wasters and unproductive habits
Make effective delegation
Don't overload your plate - Learn to say no
Be flexible and relax - Remember change is inevitable and change is constant
While there is no magic trick or secret formula to ensure success in all your undertakings, but the vicious cycle of need-it-now deadlines or conflicting expectations and multiple demands does not need to be your chronic, recurrent nightmares. You can make it a “success cycle” with a set of strategies and take action to master them!
"The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and starting on the first one." ~ Mark Twain