How to juggle two projects at the same time

With so many meetings and a slew of other responsibilities at work, you’re bound to spend a lot of time working on two or more projects at the same time. Here are some tips to help manage it all.

Don’t freak out

Anan Tello, a storyteller, writer, yogi and self-coined “amateur artist,” writes in Thrive Global that when you’re working for more than one manager, you shouldn’t forget to “take it easy:”

“You were not hired to please everyone. Your job is to work a certain number of hours every day with a few breaks, deliver high-quality services and improve the business. If things go wrong, that’s okay. You did your job, you tried hard but things didn’t go as planned. That’s okay; it’s a part of doing business. Don’t stress over the things you can’t control. Seek the advice of mentors and professionals, and, above all, be good to yourself. Treat yourself with love, courtesy and empathy.”

Don’t run yourself ragged, or you might just drop the ball.

Never underestimate the power of a trusty checklist

Old school? Maybe. Effective? Certainly.

A post on workflow automation platform OneSpace, says it’s helpful to “make a checklist” when working on many projects at the same time:

“If you’ve taken on multiple large projects at once, the amount of work ahead of you can paralyze your ability to get started. To make things more manageable, organize your tasks into checklists. First, create a master checklist of all the tasks you must complete to finish your assigned projects. Organize these tasks by due date, and when a new task arises, add it to the list in the appropriate spot. Each workday, create a smaller checklist that outlines the tasks you must complete that day, listed in order of priority. When you complete a task, be sure to cross it off both checklists.”

Give yourself the time you need

A Harvard Business Review article about working for more than one team discusses the authors’ research, and details how to minimize distractions:

“When you’re focused on a high-priority task, buy yourself a mental escape from unnecessary intrusions. For example, when I’m writing — my highest-concentration task — I put an automatic reply on my email telling people I’m not checking messages till a certain time of day, and offering my mobile number in case of an emergency. By telling people not to expect an instant reply, you buy yourself some time to focus, while reassuring them that you will pay attention — later.”

Work in reverse

Alan Henry, former Editor-in-Chief of Lifehacker (and now at The New York Times), writes in Lifehacker that you should “work backwards from your deadlines” when you need to “prioritize” when everything you have going on is crucial. He draws on his experience being a project manager:

“Time is usually the one variable most of us can’t change. Deadlines are deadlines, and often we’re not the ones who set them. This is where working backwards from due dates is crucial. Start a spreadsheet, and mark down when each project or task on your plate needs to be finished. Then work backwards to the present day, taking into account everything each specific to-do that needs to be done to get from here to there, and how long it takes to complete. When you’re finished, you’ll likely see a bunch of tasks that should have started already and others that hopefully won’t start for a while if you’re going to make the deadline.”