‘How Can I Manage Five Projects at Once?’ I hear a variation on this question a lot. It could be three; it could be ten… Multiple Projects: five will do.
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There is a simple answer.
And, I’m afraid, it’s glaringly obvious. Yet it’s no less valuable for that.
One at a time.
The human brain is ill-suited for multi-tasking. And trying to do five things at once will cause you to slow down and make more errors than you needed to.
This is your most compelling cause, by value, urgency, pressure, or some combination. Deliver on that immediately. Then repeat.
Some people use half-days (10 per working week), others use four chunks per day (2 per half day). I use 5-9am, 9-1pm, 2-6pm. Allocate parts of your five projects into these segments, with a balance that reflects your priorities. Set clear targets for each work period and ensure you create a proper break period to recharge, between each one.
In your recharge breaks, get some: movement, fresh air, daylight, water, food. This way, you will be able to sustain a hefty work rate during your working days.
Multi-tasking does not work, but mono-tasking does. Option (a) is pure mono-tasking; while option (b) is what I call ‘serial mono-tasking’. Another way to think about it is with hats.
When you manage each project, think of yourself as wearing a different hat. One for each project. At the end of your recharge break, deliberately visualize yourself swapping hats from one to another. That way, you’ll have mental clarity about what you are doing.
And if you need to manage multiple projects, and want to learn them, you can. I’ve put them all into an article:
And you may also like this video: How to Manage Multiple Projects
I asked Project Managers in a couple of forums what material things you need to have, to do your job as a Project Manager. They responded magnificently. I compiled their answers into a Kit list. I added my own.
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Dr Mike Clayton is one of the most successful and in-demand project management trainers in the UK. He is author of 14 best-selling books, including four about project management. He is also a prolific blogger and contributor to ProjectManager.com and Project, the journal of the Association for Project Management. Between 1990 and 2002, Mike was a successful project manager, leading large project teams and delivering complex projects. In 2016, Mike launched OnlinePMCourses.
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