When You Have A Lot Of Small Projects, It’s Hard To Manage Them
There are times when you need to juggle many small projects all at once. But, it’s not really that hard if you develop a system to keep organized, use the right technology for the job, and manage your time well. It’s a lot harder when you are trying to do it all manually.
Know How Much Time You Really Have
It’s very important to learn how to judge how much time each project really will take, plus how much time you really do have to work on it each work day. You don’t want to take on two projects that both take 40 hours of work, and say you’ll be done with them both on the same day, in a week. It’s completely impossible. So get real about time and how much of it you have (or don’t have as the case may be). It’s easy to trick ourselves into thinking we are faster than we are (I do that often) but if you figure an additional amount of time – like double the original thought – you usually will be on track to get it done on time.
Organize Each Project Separately
Every project should be its own entity with its own timelines, milestones, and deliverables. Even if the work is for the same client, you will want to organize each project a client gives you own its own merit. It doesn’t matter if you choose to use a calendar system, a folder system, or a full-fledged project management system – organize each project so that you can clearly see what needs to be done each day to reach your goals. You can use this when doing a report back to your clients if you need to for them to understand where you are. You can also use this with your employees to help them tell you where they are in a project.
Design a Filing System
Even if everything you do is on your computer, you need to create a standard filing system within your computer that makes it simple for you to find projects and pieces of projects. Keep separate folders for each client, with a separate folder for each project. It may seem tedious to file things that way, but it’s very handy when you use it. Consider using Dropbox.com to store the files as you can access them anywhere and get updates easily.
It helps if the projects are organized by due dates on the computer. This means that your naming convention revolves around the due date, the project name, and the client’s name. That way when you open a client file you’ll see a list of files that automatically organize themselves by date if you name them with the date first. You can take that further so that when you click on each project file, inside is another list by date of “to-do” items. Once you are used to doing it like this, you will be able to easily tell where things are and love the organization of it.
Use a Project Management System
Invest in a good project management system. Cloud-based project management systems like Asana.com can make your life a lot easier. If you don’t want to keep a good filing system on your computer, you can keep everything organized on the project management system by client and date there. You can even set it up so that entries go directly into your calendar so that you know what to do on any given date.
Keep a Good, Updated Calendar
No matter which type of system you use, nothing can beat a good calendar. Many people use online calendaring systems now such as Google Calendar or even Outlook, and there are others that will sync with your phone and all your other devices. This way, you can see at a glance what you need to work on at any given date or time. You can easily look at it when talking to potential new clients and quickly determine whether you can take on a new project or not, and when. Make sure to schedule your work day – don’t just wing it. Winging it won’t work to keep you on task.
By prioritizing each project based on due date and how long it will take you to accomplish, you’ll be able to handle multiple small projects with ease. Don’t forget to schedule in the work you have to do for yourself, too – in other words, treat yourself as a client as well. This will help you avoid letting the ball drop when it comes to your own business needs. You can do this with employees at your shop as well – create projects and let them have access so they can see what’s coming and what they need to do to get ready. Then you can have them work on projects instead of you all the time.
Tell me about a time when you created or worked on a project and how did it feel to get it done? Did it work smoothly or was it bumpy?