I manage multiple projects.
Starting out in project management, the chances are you will be assigned to multiple projects unless one project takes up all of your time. Even so, you will find yourself balancing multiple priorities and sub-tasks that are as complex as if they had been smaller projects.
Managing multiple projects is challenging. I had little experience managing projects, let alone multiple projects. Here are 3 tips I have learned along the way to stay somewhat on top.
Tip #1: Keep Contact Lists Handy
To mistakenly send project information to the wrong client is one thing. But to make the same mistake over and over again is another. Unfortunately that was exactly what I did. I had trouble keeping track of all the contacts, especially if I have never met that person.
With all the names floating around, things start to get confusing. The main reason why it is not a good idea to send sensitive information to another client is that all clients want your full attention and commitment. Even if it is industry standards to be balancing multiple projects, it only adds to their frustration when their needs are not looked after.
Creating contact lists for each individual projects is a great way to keep track of who is on which project. On smaller projects, your project team also tend to over lap between projects. Whenever in doubt, cross reference the corresponding contact lists to keep yourself in check.
Another helpful suggestion is to take some time and get to know the client and each individual on your project team. Their unique qualities will enhance your memory.
Tip #2: Maintain a Daily Action Log
I learned this the hard way – we can’t completely rely on our memories to keep track of our day-to-day tasks. Distractions are all around us with meetings, urgent requests, phone calls, and friendly coworkers who just want to socialize.
I keep a daily action log for each project I am working on. When I am in the middle of a task and something unplanned comes up that requires my attention, I add it to my action log and continue with my current task. The action log gives me a sense of control and confidence.
The daily action log is a list of all the tasks I need to do and what I need other people to do on a specific given day. Beside each task I like to set due dates to help me prioritize my list. I structure my time around these deadlines so that I don’t miss any important milestones. I also find it helpful to set reminders on my calendar to periodically review my progress on each project to make sure things do not slip through the cracks. From time to time, I will set aside time to update my action log, objectives, and budget.
Tip #3: Meeting Minutes, Project Schedules, and Progress Reports serve as Reminders
Meeting minutes are not only good at recording key decision and actions but they are also great at reminding us of upcoming tasks. Minutes are written record of a meeting. It outlines what work has been completed and what work is due for completion. Meeting minutes tell you who is responsible for resolving what task for the week.
Minutes are helpful to review before the next meeting takes place to resolve tasks to push the project forward. Weekly or bi-weekly meetings serve as check-in points to find out what everyone has done during the week and inform others what I have done as well.
Other helpful documents to review are project schedules and progress reports. Project schedules provide a sense of the overall picture of where your project stands. Progress reports contain up-to-date information on the construction progress. They are often supplemented with site pictures to give more contexts. I review all three: meeting minutes, project schedules, and progress reports to keep myself on top of my week-by-week priorities.
Project management is not rocket science. With time and practice, we will get better at juggling between our projects. Don’t be discouraged if things fall through the cracks here and there. It is part of the learning process.