6 Steps to Keeping Your Projects in Check

Too Many Projects-1

Are you overloaded with projects?

Chances are that you have many simultaneous undertakings.

But, do you know just how many projects without doing a manual count?

How Many Projects Do You Have?

I was recently coaching an individual who was overloaded. He was having trouble keeping up with his work.

Together, we made a list of all of his open projects. It was eye-opening.

He had almost two dozen projects that were “in progress” or not closed out.

He really didn’t have enough time to get all his work done. And the situation wasn’t getting any better, as new projects were starting almost daily.

Are you in the same situation?

How do know when you are overloaded? And how do you keep your projects under control?

Here are 6 Steps to Keeping Your Projects in Check:

  1. Make a Project Inventory – Knowing your project load is the first step in managing your work. Until you know just how many projects you are carrying, you won’t be able to make prudent decisions about your time and capacity. Make a list of all of your open projects, big and small.
  2. Close Out Unneeded Projects – Not all projects should continue. Some projects aren’t ever going to finish. Or perhaps, they have become obsolete. Have the fortitude to end them so that you can concentrate on the few important ones.
  3. Prioritize Your Projects – If you have multiple projects open, (and most of us do), it is important to know their order of priority. When you have to decide between projects, know in advance which one is more important. It makes those last-minute decisions about your time much easier.
  4. Lay Them Out on a Timeline – A list of projects is good, however, it doesn’t let you see deadlines and how the projects relate on a calendar. Making a timeline of your projects can let you see the order and precedence of your work.
  5. Delegate or Backburner Some Projects – You can’t do everything at once. If you have more than a few projects, you need to decide which ones to delegate or delay. Too many projects at once leads to none of them reaching the finish line.
  6. Capture Ideas for Later – You can’t act on every great idea that crosses your mind. (Or you’ll end up with 57 things started and nothing done…) Capture those great ideas  and save them for later.

Keep a Tab on Those Projects

Many of these may seem like basic project management. However, individuals and companies fall victim to them each and every day.

Keep tabs on all of your open projects.

Doing so will allow you to know your project load and help you concentrate on your most important work.

Question: How do you manage your project load?

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • gregpipkin

    Great article, Craig. Been following your blog for some time. I use Basecamp to collaborate on projects, Things to manage personal tasks/projects, and Evernote to organize and document my work on projects. While Basecamp is great for keeping all members of a project on the same page, Things (or a similar app) works far better in my opinion as a day-to-day personal management tool. I can see all of my work, personal or collaborative, in one convenient place.

    However, your suggestion of a timeline is one piece that I’ve not found a great system for yet. I’ve used spreadsheets and calendars, and even software specifically designed for timelines, but none of them work well for me. I would love to see an “overview” timeline of projects as a feature in Things. That would be a killer feature for a task management solution… which does not exist today as far as I know. I hate using a single-purpose app for this.

    Craig, do you have any suggestions? How do you manage this in your personal workflow?

    • http://www.timemanagementninja.com/ Craig Jarrow

      Greg,

      Like what you are saying about timelines. It would be a killer feature.

      Our setups are similar. I use Things, Evernote… and then Asana for projects. Ironically, the one thing I miss moving from Basecamp to Asana is the calendar…

      Look for more posts on my workflow soon. :)

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  • http://www.AchieveTheGreenBeretWay.com/welcome Michael Martel

    I use two tools. For managing people working for me, I use Teambox. It is a nice little tool that allows me to assign tasks/projects and keep track of them. The team member can give me status inside of the tool and we can converse back and forth with me adjusting the task if needed. I also like that I can switch the task to other team members depending on work load.

    For my own tasks and major projects, I use Outlook and MS Project. Outlook Tasks are good for emails that need to be followed up on. I either set them as a follow up or drag them to the task bar to create task. Major projects running over months are best in MS Project. I use gantt charts to make sure I hit all the dependencies.

    • http://www.timemanagementninja.com/ Craig Jarrow

      Like how you use different tools for different types of items/tasks.

      Too often, people get stuck in using one tool for everything and that gets messy.

  • Crystal Richard

    As a publicist, my “projects” are typically keeping track of client’s press assets, media lists, and media outreach. I definitely have to agree with @gregpipkin:disqus that Basecamp is incredibly helpful for organizing all materials and quick back and forth with a client. For myself and my line of work, I recently started using Contactzilla for contact management. The seamlessness of keeping all of my contacts on one platform, that I can sync to any device and access from anywhere has been a lifesaver for me – especially around launch time. I can extend access to designated address books to my team and revoke access if needed. It’s truly been a life saver.

    • http://www.timemanagementninja.com/ Craig Jarrow

      Interesting. I haven’t seen that contact tool.

      I have use iCloud with Cobook on my Mac and iOS devices.

      • Crystal Richard

        They’re pretty great! Contactzilla.com if you’d like to check them out!

      • Tom Dodds

        Just posted here, meant to reply to you…. Apologies for double post.

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  • Mike Zamora

    You forgot to mention use technology as a tool! Since I work for a Project Management Solution, I am more than a little biased. However, prior to working in the technology industry, I worked in Construction and found that I was much more successful when I leveraged technology. Disclaimer: Shameless plug, check out Projectmates at http://www.projectmates.com.

    • http://www.timemanagementninja.com/ Craig Jarrow

      Right on, Mike!

      That needs to be on the list. :)

    • Tom Dodds

      Honesty is always the best policy :)

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  • Mark Twin

    In my earlier days of project management, I was also a bit worried about how to manage my e-mails because it was very difficult to handle them due to their large amount. After some time, I discovered a project management tool called proofhub (www.proofhub.com). This tool has helped me a lot. Now I don’t have to waste my time on e-mails.

  • Tom Dodds

    We’ve been replacing BaseCamp in a bunch of businesses in UK & US and have found that with the right tool – social collaboration, tasking and project management in one place. Anyone have any experience of tools other than BCSocial that can do this ?

  • Carla Frett

    Good tips indeed. Its my good luck that I landed on this page. I am a guy who always go in search of better tips and tricks for managing things in a better way. Basically I want my part of time to be done up properly. Because I believe that time is the most important aspect of life and if passed one time it cannot come back.

    What if all these tips gets implemented on an online tools that can manage the time. Lets say we initially feed all the sort of schedules and every thing gets managed in automated way. Being a software professional I prefer to manage everything from software perspective and I will be more than happy if these tips comes with the quickbooks time tracking software where in I can have a good track of the time of my employees working for me.

    Can that be possible?

  • Jimmy

    There is no burden for you even you have dozens of projects to manage when you have proofhub.com with you. You can easily manage all of them.