Multitasking 101: Effective Strategies to Handle Multiple Projects at Work
Your main job as a business owner, manager, or department head is to plan and prioritize multiple concurrent projects. You need to optimize your organization’s shared resources, human resources included, to get more done at the lowest possible overhead costs.
When done right, multitasking can significantly boost efficiency and productivity in your team and save you both in terms of money and time. But how can you handle multiple projects at work without burning yourself out or leaning excessively on your team? You can do that by implementing these 4 multitasking strategies:
1. Ensure that your management abilities for single projects are perfect
How good are you with meeting deadlines and setting objectives for single projects? Don’t rush to start managing multiple projects until you are extremely comfortable running single projects. Master the art of defining one task at a time, organizing your team to handle a task as per each person’s talents, and managing interdependencies between different talents in the team. Ensure that you understand the art of mobilizing resources for a single project and minimizing costs while at it. The bottom line is to sharpen your single-project management skills before you pick a second and a third concurrent project.
2. Invest in multi-project management tools
If you are ready for a second project, now procure a couple of multi-project management tools. These will make your work easier, more accurate, and highly effective. Note that there is a difference between single and multi-project management tools. A good multi-project solution should facilitate adequate communication between you and your team members working on different projects. It should have the capacity to collect data from multiple sources, interrelated or not, and then analyze it and store it in one place. That makes it possible for you to conduct effective risk management and make advised decisions for all your projects. Most importantly, a good multi-project management tool should be able to:
- Track the progress of multiple concurrent projects in real-time.
- Help you with task prioritization and resource allocation.
- Predict possible outcomes for different timeframes and objectives
3. Know when and how to delegate
A little help from your outstanding team members goes a long way in saving you from burnout. That is why you should keep your promising employees close and delegate to them some of the tasks that don’t exactly require your micromanagement. You should retain visibility of tasks and timelines, and be there to guide the team leaders you delegate to. You can keep sight of things in your teams by investing in a centrally shared project management tool that provides you with real-time insights into the progress of each delegated task.
You need to identify astute project leaders who are highly skilled in managing the soft skills that their colleagues have. But how can you tell if a team member has the project leadership skills needed to lead their colleagues? One way of identifying such talents is by checking their PMP certification. People with this certification have earned their authenticity as smart, dedicated, and highly skilled team leaders. If you don’t have the certification yet, it is important that you earn one today in order to validate your position as a modern project manager.
4. Stay flexible
One thing is constant in project management: Shifting priorities. But everyone is happier when goals are clear and roles well defined from the onset, throughout an entire project. It can be extremely frustrating when something changes either in terms of budget or time allocations, forcing you to suddenly reschedule or switch priorities. That is why you and your teams should work towards improving your flexibility. One way of staying flexible is to constantly fine-tune your timelines, objectives, and priorities through regular reviews. Encourage your team members to work within the original roadmap but not to cling too much to it to the extent that everything crumbles when sudden changes warrant a change of flow. Most importantly:
- Have a contingency plan in place for when talents leave the team either permanently or temporarily.
- Leave enough room in your timelines for readjustments in case your clients or bosses issue new guidelines.
- Check your expenditure regularly in order to catch discrepancies in the original budget before it’s too late.
- Tweak the original plan from time to time to soak up some of the pressure that sudden changes place on your team.
As a project manager, you have tons of communication lines to serve, meetings to attend, and resources to manage. You may struggle to get through it all without being a multi-tasking genius. The good news is that it is not too late for you to start improving your multitasking abilities.
Guest post courtesy of Lena Linetti