Nearly 60% of project managers simultaneously work on two to five projects at a time.
Ensuring the same level of focus, productivity, and output quality across projects is a superpower project managers need to have. Poor project performance can lead to a colossal waste of investment— 114%, to be exact.
Thankfully, project managers can juggle projects with a robust system in place.
Here are ten strategies to help you work smarter, improve efficiency, and manage multiple projects.
- 10 Strategies for Successfully Managing Multiple Projects
- 1. A project management software is your best friend
- 2. With great focus comes great productivity
- 3. Ask: Are you prioritizing tasks right?
- 4. Communicate with clarity
- 5. Limit context switching
- 6. When priorities shift, be flexible
- 7. A balanced workload leads to a happier (read productive) team
- 8. When scheduling projects, envision the entire portfolio
- 9. Set clear, measurable, and attainable goals for each project
- 10. Save your recurring workflows and save invaluable time
10 Strategies for Successfully Managing Multiple Projects
1. A project management software is your best friend
But all hope is not lost.
You can bring about a change in project management mindset by investing in software like ClickUp—a tool that can manage every aspect of a project:
- Strategize and plan
- Visualize your workflow
- Allocate tasks
- Track time and manage resources
- Collaborate with your team
- Forecast outcomes
ClickUp is a centralized project management tool that can host multiple projects and help you to seamlessly move between tasks—a decided advantage for when things get out of control (as they often do, multiple times a day!).
You can also access free project management templates and jumpstart your project planning with every project.
2. With great focus comes great productivity
Typically, project managers handle three to four projects simultaneously—and their biggest challenge? Focus.
Learning how to focus is more complicated than you’d think. To train your mental muscle, you must first analyze why your mind is drifting.
Once you’ve figured out the why, try these tips to improve your concentration skills:
- Say no to tasks that are low on your priority list. The more you multitask, the higher the chances of mishaps
- Automate your admin tasks and repetitive to-dos with ClickUp AI Assistant, which can create agendas for you, build checklists, edit content, and more
- Implement timeboxing— a strategy where you consciously train your mind to complete a task within a specified block of time
- Practice mindfulness and turn off those pesky notifications that can disrupt your focus. You can also use focus apps to guide your mind and help maintain steady concentration levels
- Delegate and trust your peers and direct reports instead of micromanaging every small task, but don’t be an absent manager either
3. Ask: Are you prioritizing tasks right?
Find yourself burning the midnight oil but not accomplishing much. Guilty as charged.
You might be prioritizing low-value tasks that might be eating into your time, energy, and effort.
While creating a to-do list, prioritizing tasks is one way to go; might we suggest another game-changer? ClickUp Prioritization Templates:
Pro Tip: Before using the Prioritization Matrix, categorize tasks based on priority using the 4D model: Do, Defer (plan), Delegate, and Delete (Eliminate).
For instance, let’s say you want your team to know what to do and when. ClickUp Task Management feature can help create a hierarchy for what’s important.
It offers data-rich visuals such as Kanban Boards and Gantt Charts, which provide a high-level overview of your tasks at a glance:
The ClickUp Task Priority option lets you prioritize tasks without errors. Here’s how it works:
- Choose between four levels (flags) of priority: Urgent, High, Normal, and Low
- Sort your tasks by time to see the most critical tasks within your workflow
- Drop your high-priority items into your task tray, which is available 24×7
- Combine your prioritized tasks with dependencies. (such as “waiting on” or “blocking”)
- Set filters for due dates and save them or share them with the team
4. Communicate with clarity
Maintaining a constant line of communication is central to project success for many reasons:
- Stakeholders can share their expectations with team members to better align their work. Clients can share instant feedback if things go wrong
- Create a feedback loop for your team and assist them in reaching goals faster without compromising on quality
- Conduct team meetings to re-strategize and review the project status. A proactive approach goes a long way
- Manage client expectations and timelines and prevent the dreaded scope creep
But how can you communicate with clarity? By communicating where the work is happening.
A great place to start would be to invest in a tool that prioritizes communication, similar to ClickUp Chat:
Scattered conversations happening over multiple tools lead to confusion and errors. Considering how much we use messaging apps in our personal lives, similarly, wouldn’t workplace chat be the most convenient?
You can share updates in real time and get cross-team visibility into who’s working on what.
You can also layer your interactions with visual context and improve comprehensibility. Add links, attachments, files, GIFs, images, videos, and whatever gets the message across.
Like Instagram or Facebook, you can add anyone to your work conversations with @mentions. No more wasting time sending emails or making calls to alert team members.
Moreover, you can assign comments to individual members and keep the action items moving. Your team member will be notified instantly and can start working on the task without wasting time.
Yes, communication has long been a must-have soft skill for project managers. But it’s high time we look at the “how” of communicating well.
5. Limit context switching
Bouncing around apps and platforms is a waste of time.
In your quest to manage multiple projects and boost productivity— “Context Switching” can get in your way.
Often confused with multitasking, context switching is the lesser of the two evils. You are jumping between apps and starting new tasks, leaving older tasks mid-way.
Sadly, its detrimental effects go beyond productivity. A study from the University of California, Irvine, reported that just 20 minutes of repeated interruptions can cause higher stress, pressure, and frustration at work.
So, how do you deal with context-switching?
You tackle it in two ways:
1. Onboard all apps and tools onto one platform, allowing your team to access everything at their fingertips.
ClickUp, for example, supports 1000+ third-party app integrations, allowing you to implement one org-wide solution that is home to your favorite tools. Plus, you get rid of the team of unconscious context switching.
2. Use ClickUp Views to keep all your work in one place, your sacred home of personal productivity.
You can also personalize your workflow visualization, project tracking, and task management via three views: List, Calendar, and Board:
A bird’s-eye view of all your projects can save you time and effort that would otherwise be spent managing multiple files and closing browser tabs.
6. When priorities shift, be flexible
Is your team unable to track changing priorities? The inability to pivot as the situation demands is a significant shortcoming for project managers.
And this mostly happens when you’re using multiple to-do lists and spreadsheets to track what’s happening across projects.
You’re unable to reschedule resources within time. This can derail your ongoing projects and create delays.
The two big solutions?
1. Implement a change control process: This will allow you to manage requests for project changes. If a stakeholder requests a change in a project, you can view it in the project schedule instantly. You can also leverage this process to allow stakeholders to approve/deny change requests as they deem fit.
2. Share a central source of truth: Use a tool to track changing project requests and ensure that this tool is available for team members to use offline and online.
When your team members get visibility into the team’s bandwidth and task status in real-time, they can shift gears and work efficiently. Plus, you’ll also be able to check in on the team when things get tight.
7. A balanced workload leads to a happier (read productive) team
Evenly distributing your team’s workload promotes business growth and employee well-being.
Overload an employee with tasks, and you’ll get incomplete work at best and poor-quality work at worst.
Even underutilizing employees can leave them unmotivated and stressed. Unsurprisingly, the US spends $300 billion every year on missed workdays and health issues emanating from work-related stress.
The bottom line: In both scenarios, the organization stands to lose.
Finding that sweet spot can boost team morale and keep the project moving smoothly.
But how? Understand the impact of workload management on data management.
When managing multiple projects and teams, data is bound to flow via intersecting channels. You must manage the workload properly to maintain track of data.
Here’s what a typical Workload Management process looks like:
- Start by aligning your tasks to the right people, ensuring everyone has an even workload. You’ll need full visibility into the people, projects, and tasks involved
- Analyze your team’s capabilities, skills, and expertise to deliver on time, within budget, and of an expected quality
- Next, you’ll want to digitize the ‘intelligent’ workload distribution process. For instance, ClickUp Workload View allows you to see each member’s task sheet and calendar and review who is working on what:
Based on how your project progresses, you can customize the view, track the task’s level of effort, readjust your team’s capacity, and work without interruptions or delays.
8. When scheduling projects, envision the entire portfolio
Employees often get overbooked or blocked for the wrong dates when your project scheduling is uncoordinated.
To make your project schedule foolproof, you need visibility into the team’s workload for the entire year (and not just the weeks that lead up to the project’s deadline).
Let’s say you are launching two microsites. Unfortunately, the first launch gets delayed due to production issues and starts conflicting with the launch of the second microsite.
If your project schedule does not reflect this delay in time, you’ll end up overbooking your resources, and the project will get delayed.
Here are some tips you can follow to schedule your projects while keeping the full scope in mind:
- Distribute the project start and end dates for people who are working on multiple projects at the same time
- Schedule your project dependencies—for example, do you need to finish designing the website before content gets written?
- Consolidate duplicate tasks across projects to get work done faster. For instance, say you need to purchase stock images for your marketing and sales collaterals; do them together
- When setting due dates, work backward to understand how long each task will take to complete
9. Set clear, measurable, and attainable goals for each project
Setting goals and KPIs is central to measuring employee progress. But goal-setting has deeper, more psychological after-effects.
Forbes claims that people who vividly picture their goals are 1.2 to 1.4x more likely to accomplish them.
So, when you start viewing goals as a more structured project plan, you will be better positioned to achieve them.
In the context of business, goals take the form of milestones. Seasoned project managers embrace the following goal-setting process:
- First, they work on setting project objectives
- Then, they focus on breaking down projects into smaller, more manageable tasks
- Next, they assign tasks to appropriate team members
- Finally, they set measurable, realistic, and clear goals
But don’t stop there. Use automation to your advantage with ClickUp Goals:
ClickUp Goals is great for organizing all your goals (think sprint cycles, weekly employee scorecards, OKRs, etc.) in easy-to-use folders.
You can create targets in diverse formats—number, true/false, task, monetary, descriptions, etc.
Plus, you don’t need to worry about keeping tabs on your project progress. The tool can take over for you.
10. Save your recurring workflows and save invaluable time
Are you constantly rebuilding the same workflows each time a new project begins?
Picture this: You’ve just worked on a quarterly email about new product launches. After a couple of weeks, it’s time to get started on deliverables for the new quarter.
But hold on.
The design tool you were using has been decommissioned. You’ll need to use a new version and start from scratch. But the catch is that you don’t remember the components of the previous email.
This is not an intelligent move, productively speaking. You may miss out on critical components, and your subscribers might get a subpar email.
What can you do to prevent this next quarter? How about you templatize your workflow and use it as-is in the upcoming quarter?
As the new quarter begins, you can start with the personalized template you created.
This will accelerate your work process and prevent workflow gaps.
Pro tip: Update your templates routinely with insights and best practices to ensure quality delivery.
Manage Multiple Projects Easily with ClickUp
What is the most common dilemma project managers face? How to manage multiple projects without losing their sanity.
Understandably so. Project managers have their work cut out for them.
As a project manager, you may often find yourself knee-deep in deliverables due yesterday. You may also be tackling high-pressure clients and an overworked team. And let’s not forget about maintaining stakeholder expectations and rising project budgets.
Now, doing this for one project is difficult enough.
Imagine what happens when you bring multiple projects into the mix— it can lead to employee burnout and unhappiness.