How to handle it when you have too many projects and too little time.
Generally, I consider myself good with time management. I have an internal clock that will alert me when I need to stop working on one project and move onto the next. But not everyone is good at time management, especially when they have many things to do, and little time to do them in, so here are a few tips:
1. Make Lists
Generally when starting any project you should list out all the foreseeable work. Make an outline of what you will be doing, the order you plan to do it in. Highlight certain milestones (completion of a first draft mockup or the start of coding), and deliverable dates.
The night before, or the morning of your workday make a list of all the things you need to accomplish that day. Say you have 3 projects, all with different deadlines, all with different complexities involved. Take a moment and think about which piece of which project will take you the longest to complete that day and which has the shortest deadline. Work on the project with the closest deadline first and deliver what you can that day. Then work on the project that will take the biggest chunk out of your workday. Use whatever time you have left for the remaining project.
2. Don’t Get Distracted
I work from home, so a lot of time I would have the TV on as I worked. Bad, bad idea. It only takes a moment to get sucked into some program and before you know it the hour you could have been working was spent with the Lost survivors.
Music tends to help me concentrate and stay on course. I like to turn it up loud to keep me from getting distracted by my surroundings.
Also, don’t forget to take breaks. If you are working at home like me, it is quite easy to get stuck sitting at your desk for 7 hours straight, without anyone reminding you to go on break.
3. Don’t Take Too Much On At Once
I consistently fail at this one. I am always eager for new projects and a lot of times I can’t say now. At one point I had stacked up 11 projects! Thankfully some were quick and easy, and others had flexible deadlines, but let’s face it – that’s an extreme rarity. Whatever client you are working with wants their product NOW. Make sure whenever you bid on a project, or give estimates for completion you don’t under budget yourself. Give yourself a day or two of leeway, and make sure that the project is valued appropriately for the time you are spending on it. If you end up with a project that ended up taking you 20 hours to complete and you are only getting $200, you may want to reevaluate your pricing.
4. Don’t Burn Out
Most importantly, don’t burn yourself out. Take a day completely off between projects. Or, float on just one project for a week. If you are taking on too much at one time, and not taking time to rest you will inevitably burn out and lose focus.
So remember, it’s great to be on the top of your game, and to take on many projects. But there are only so many hours in a day, and if you have family you need to budget them in too! Keep track of what you have done, and what you need to do. When it is time to work, don’t have distractions around you, or inevitably you will be distracted and something that would taken an hour to complete could end up taking you two!