Most of my time at Atomic Object has been focused on individual projects. However, I am occasionally asked to handle the responsibilities of multiple projects in parallel. Dealing with one project is difficult enough, so managing multiple projects can feel extremely challenging.
Since there is only so much context you can hold in your head at one time, it is important to have a strategy to manage these responsibilities before spreading yourself too thin. Here are techniques I use to manage the load of multiple project responsibilities.
Humans are not meant to multitask. This makes it important to create boundaries when working on multiple projects. Boundaries on your time and availability help reduce context switching in a given day, making it easier to focus on the task at hand.
I like to block off time for each project I’m working on. This means working on the responsibilities of one project and ignoring all but the most important requests of other projects.
Let anyone involved in the projects you’re working on know when you will be focusing on their project. Others may expect you to always be available for your project if you don’t let them know otherwise. By being transparent, you are managing their expectations about your availability and productivity.
Planning ahead makes the above steps easier. Knowing when you are going to be working on each project makes it easier to block off your time. It also makes it easier to communicate when you will be focusing your time on each project.
Planning ahead can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. For example, I usually will schedule a full day to focus on a project and let others know in advance.
While working on multiple projects at once is not ideal, there are ways to manage the mental overhead and manage external expectations. If you consistently manage multiple projects feel free to share any strategies you’ve found helpful in the comments.