I bet you can relate to this: You have a hundred good ideas, 10 great ideas, and 5 ideas that you want to get off the ground before next weekend. But is it possible to turn all your great ideas into reality and juggle them at the same time?
The answer is yes, with good project management skills. A project is nothing more than a sequence of tasks undertaken to create something. So managing multiple projects means juggling multiple ‘to-do’ lists. It takes skill to do this, but like any other skill you can gain mastery with practice over time.
Legacy Web Services is living proof that I know what I am talking about. We currently have more than 80 web service clients that we actively manage every month. That’s 80 different projects with multiple deadlines and changes that need to be made on the fly.
If I can achieve those results with 80+ clients, you can too! To get to that level, you will need to “create” more time in your day with an audit, find the right projects to work on, and get the right tools to stay on track.
Audit Your Time
I’m going to tell you something you already know and probably don’t want to hear: If you are having trouble managing multiple projects, it is probably because you are mismanaging your time. So if you want to improve your project management skills, you will need to improve your time management skills.
As the saying goes, “What gets measured, gets managed”, so before you can manage your time, you need to measure how you are currently using it. Choose an average day during your work week and do the following:
- Set your phone’s timer to go off every 30 minutes.
- When that timer goes off, write down what you did during the previous 30 minutes. Do this for the entire day.
- The next day, put a star next to activities that you would consider “High Value and Very Important (HVVI)“. Put an X next to “Low Value and Unimportant (LVU)” activities. The rest of the activities are things that have to be done (eating, laundry, driving, errands) but dont move your projects forward. We will call these “Neutral (N)” tasks.
If you have done a decent job at tracking your time, you will realize two things:
- You dont work as hard as you think you do, and
- If you didn’t let low value activities eat up your time, you would have a lot more time to focus on High Value and Very Important activities.
Once you are conscious of how you spend your time, you can start to remove low value and unimportant activities to make space for projects. You only get 24 hours in a day, so be brutal about getting rid of activities that dont move you closer to achieving your goals!
Audit Your Projects
Create a list of all the projects you have swimming around in your head. Just like you separated your time blocks into “HVVI“, “LVU“, and “N“, organize your projects the same way. What project are you most passionate about? What is the most time sensitive? What project has the chance to bring in the most revenue or achieve the biggest results? That project is a HVVI project.
You may have multiple HVVI projects, but I suggest you limit yourself to actively working on your top 3 or 4 projects, and outsource tasks for the others until you get the ball rolling on your big ones.
For instance, say you have 5 website ideas. 3 of them you are passionate about, one is interesting to you (and you only bought the domain because it was .99¢), and the last sounds like a good idea in an industry you dont know anything about.
Hire a designer to build 3 or 4 websites and create the logos for them. While that is being finished, start writing blog posts for the first three sites. You could also start establishing a social media presence with tweets, videos, and images. That way, when your design is finished, you have content ready to go.
For the latter two sites, have a designer get started on a logo, or maybe pay a writer to do a few blog posts for you. You could start shopping around for a theme, or just outsource the whole project and put it on autopilot. That way, you are making progress on all projects at the same time.
Get The Right Tools
Once you know what you need to work on, there are a few tools that we recommend to help you stay organized and keep you moving forward.
A Good Planner
Nothing beats a good planner. I haven’t found an online solution or app that’s better than a physical to-do list and calendar that I can keep with me at all times.
If you want to improve your project and time management skills, a good planner will help you do that!
The most effective online tool we use to keep our projects organized and on track. Place all your projects on one spreadsheet so that you can see what you are working on in one glance.
Google has made it easy for you by creating templates you can use (like this one), or you can create your own.
The example below is what we use to keep up with our projects. Parts are blurred out to protect our clients privacy, but you get the idea.
Get A Wall Calendar
A wall calendar is the best offline solution I have ever used in my life! You can plan your whole year at a glance, track your goals, stay on task, and take your productivity to the next level!
The calendar you see above is the same one I use. Click here to read some reviews and try it for yourself.
Project Management takes practice.
A lot of practice.
Don’t beat yourself up if you drop a few balls or every day isnt hyper-productive. Once you fail (and you will), pick everything back up, re-evaluate your system and make adjustments.
The longer you practice, the better you will get.