The Project Manager is a Multi -Tasker
One of the most valuable skills any project manager worth his salt should possess is the ability to manage multiple projects. Whatever career you decide to pursue, chances are, you will find yourself handling more than two or more tasks concurrently; they could be short tasks that require just a couple of hours to complete or projects and programs that span months. One way or another, there would be a time in your career where meeting several deadlines simultaneously become all you can think of. You begin to wonder how best to manage these projects and what tools you can employ to help streamline your processes in order to make you more productive.
How to Manage Multiple Projects
In this post, we would be looking at strategies to help you manage multiple projects and the best tools to help you become more prolific in your career as a project manager. The ultimate aim being not only to help you beat deadlines but to do them in such a way that you are not keeling over under tremendous pressure even as you strive to remain organized and stay proactive. Being proactive is one of the first steps towards eliminating anxiety in the workplace, even as one seeks to control various situations as opposed to reacting to events or situations when they occur. It then goes without saying that a proactive manager should know how to manage multiple tasks/projects concurrently.
So without much further ado, here are 3 secrets to achieving superman status at the workplace.
The world we live in today is one that is evolving at a very fast pace. Companies are constantly innovating and launching the-next-big-things, we constantly seek faster modes of transport, the world needs a permanent cure for cancer, we want more durable tools, we want computers that process data faster than the speed of light etc All these changes taking place are sure to keep any project manager on his toes – the secret to maintaining one’s sanity is planning.
The absence of a project management plan is the first indicator of failure for any project. Planning helps you align projects requirements with your organization’s overall business strategy. A good plan helps the project manager anticipate risks and ensures that resources are utilized judiciously.
Even superman had help. The biggest mistake any project manager would make, is trying to accomplish every task solo. It’s not only irritating to your employees, but it increases the amount of time needed to get things done. You also do not want to be micromanaging your team members as it stifles creativity, it does not elicit loyalty to the project, employees are not given the opportunity to prove themselves and when left unchecked can lead to a high rate of employee turnover.
A good project manager should learn to delegate as delegation significantly reduces the project manager’s workload, leaving you with ample time to attend to strategic issues that demand utmost attention. This in no way relates to abdication, rather project managers should see this as a step towards delivering quality projects in record time.
For best results;
- Work on assigning tasks to subordinates – Some great tools to help you with this would be the Work Breakdown Structure and the Project Scope.
- Transfer authority alongside tasks – Assigning tasks without the authority to perform said tasks often poses some form of complication among project team members.
- Help your team members understand the level of responsibility that is being handed to them and ensure they understand that they would be held accountable for whatever task is being assigned to them while you concentrate on providing oversight functions.
This is a skill you MUST master if you aim to take your multi-tasking skills to a whole new level. People who handle 3-5 projects simultaneously have the same number of hands as everyone else, but what they have learned to do differently is prioritize. Of course, there is the 80/20 rule that posits that 80% of the work we typically do in a day contributes to less than 20% of the value of our work. That means you want to be spending more time on things that actually add value and less time on activities like reading and responding to emails.
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- Make a list of all the tasks or projects that require your attention.
- Categorize the tasks on your lists as either high priority, medium priority or low priority. You can also check out Stephen Covey’s Time Management Matrix. It’s a simple but very effective time management tool anyone can use.
- Create a timeline based on the information you got from the second step, keeping in mind all the deadlines you are expected to meet.
- Get cracking!
To find out more about prioritizing, take a look at this very informative post.
In Conclusion, Here are Some Tools for Managing Multiple Projects
Earlier on, we introduced you to the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), the project scope and Stephen Covey’s Time Management Matrix but here are some other tools worthy of note. They include:
- Critical Path Analysis Flow Diagrams
- Fishbone/Ishikawa Diagrams
- There is, of course, the basic excel spreadsheet or you can just try the Nutcache all-in-one collaborative project management web app.
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