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How to Handle Multiple Projects and Deadlines

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Juggling several different projects and working toward numerous deadlines at once can be daunting. Good time management and organizational skills are crucial if you want to successfully manage priorities while limiting bottlenecks and stress. You need to make time work for you by refusing to waste it. Keep track of multiple projects, no matter what your industry, by employing a few simple, across-the-board techniques.

Eliminate environmental factors that commonly lead to time wastage. Website Effective Time Management Tips notes that three common but solvable time-wasting environmental factors are email notifications, playing telephone tag and keeping a messy work area. Turn off your email notification when managing multiple projects. Instead, check your emails at certain times, like every two hours, for example. This avoids lapses in concentration and ensures you stay on top of anything important. Avoid leaving countless uninformative “please call me back” messages on answer phones. Instead, leave longer messages explaining exactly what you need. It gives the person more to go on and frees up more time for you to manage your other projects. Messy desks mean time that could be spent managing your priorities is spent looking for things. Even when you are busy, get into the habit of having an allocated place for everything and avoid letting junk pile up around you.

Prioritize projects and deadlines. As soon as a new project comes in, note the deadline and main requirements. Consider where the new project fits in among the others you are already working on. It may require you to immediately switch your attention to deal with it. Or, you may need to work simultaneously on several projects. Make regular lists to keep track of what is required and when. If you have a basic written overview of everything that is required it will be easier to identify what needs to be done first and effectively prioritize tasks. Take time to re-evaluate your priorities often as they may change. Be prepared to be flexible so you can easily adapt to changing circumstances.

Break down each project into manageable “bite-size” tasks. This will limit the feeling of being overwhelmed with too much work. You may discover that different projects have similar components. In this case it makes sense to combine these similar tasks. For example, if you need to find images from a database for more than one project, do both at the same time and save time coming back to the database later.

Switch projects. If you have many priorities to deal with and you find yourself “stuck” or frustrated, try switching your attention to another project. By giving your brain a rest from what it is struggling with and tackling something else, preferably using different skills, you will immediately reduce stress levels. Looking at the original project with “a fresh pair of eyes” later is also likely to encourage you to come up with new solutions you wouldn’t have thought of before in your frustrated state of mind.

Take short breaks. Although you may think you are getting more done, working yourself into the ground or forgetting to eat all day is not conducive to the successful management of multiple projects and deadlines in the long run. That said, if you are “on a roll” it is probably best to ride it out and make the most of it until the next natural pause in your productivity. Stand up and stretch regularly, and practice stress-reduction techniques such as deep breathing exercise if you are feeling overwhelmed.


About the Author

From New Zealand and now freelancing in London, Alice Hudson began her writing career in 2004, specializing in health and fitness, lifestyle and personal finance. Her work has appear in the "Hawke's Bay Today" daily newspaper and "The Herald on Sunday." Hudson attained a Bachelor of Arts and diploma in journalism from the University of Canterbury.

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