3 Strategies to Manage Multiple Projects
So every day isn’t a stellar day and every week isn’t a stellar week. Sometimes, as hard as I try, no matter what strategies are in place, the work refuses to cooperate and the schedule gets backed up. This can happen for all kinds of reasons: your sister goes into emergency surgery a continent away, your daughter calls with her latest crisis, flash floods shut down your neighborhood, or maybe you just have too much to celebrate right now to focus on working. Let’s face it, interruptions aren’t always bad.
The past few weeks, I’ve been telling you more and more detail about how I’ve finally figured out to organize my life to make sure everything gets done in spite of never being able to stick to a standard 9-5 kind of schedule and with a bit of chaos thrown in now and again for good measure.
So it starts with the practice of small rituals that prime your mind for the work ahead. These are kind of like mindless habits, but you develop them specifically so your brain automagically shifts into the correct mindset.
Next, I create a production schedule to know what needs to be done step by step toward getting a project completed. This schedule lets me know what needs to get completed on a monthly, weekly, and daily basis and is the key to being flexible.
The final piece of the puzzle is using time blocks. Time blocks are chunks of time you build into your day to accomplish 3 or 4 major activities in a day.
Strategies in Action
So there’s these three strategies but the magic is in how they work together. Here’s a link to my current live schedule so you can see it in action and the screen capture below will let you understand the pieces.
I like color coding, so I’ve actually created several calendars for each type of activity broken into time blocks. Blue is dedicated time (meaning no interruptions allowed unless someone is hurt) and orange is available time (meaning folks can call me during those hours or I can set appointments during those times).
Balance is part of the strategy
You might have noticed the time blocks themselves are generally limited to two hours. Two hours is usually long enough for me to complete the next major segment in a longer work without giving me enough time to waste getting lost down some rabbit hole of research.
One hour long blocks of time between each major time block and also gives me time for things like exercise, enjoying some family time, or just move. It’s not good for the body to just sit all the time.
Did you say flexible strategy?
Yep, when interruptions come up, it’s easy enough to move the time blocks around, move them to a later time, or even adjust them to a different day when necessary. Rituals reduce the amount of time I spend trying to get back in gear and production schedules ensure each project gets attention each week and progress stays on track. Since the orange blocks are more flexible, they can be converted to blue blocks whenever needed.
It can even work for you, even if you have a full-time job and kids at home. Just look at the time you actually have available in your schedule and turn it into time blocks of your own. Create a production schedule for yourself and develop some rituals to fast-track your way into your projects.
So what do you think? Can these strategies help you? What are some of your favorite production strategies?
Wendy, your friendly word witch