We've been increasingly busier at GRAYBOX over the past few months and I'm learning every day that managing projects and my work habits is a necessity as our workload increases. Here are some things I've learned about producing quality while balancing multiple projects.
One of the biggest concerns I have when juggling multiple projects is quality control. It's sometimes difficult to make sure I'm putting out my very best work when I have several projects battling for my attention. To solve this problem, I typically plan my week, dedicating days or large chunks of time to each project. This helps me get my brain in the mood to think about the project, and once I'm 'in the zone' I can bust through a large amount of work in a small amount of time, without having to switch back and forth and get distracted. I also know that once my brain is fully focused on a particular project, and its goals, that my work is going to be higher quality. This method also psychologically makes me feel better, as my brain only has to focus on 1 project as opposed to 3 or 4. I don't feel like I'm overbooked and burnt out mentally after just a few weeks.
Change It Up
Sometimes I can't devote an entire day to a particular project, so I'll have to break my day into chunks to get several tasks done on time. I find it's sometimes difficult to reset my brain when switching from one project to another. To remedy this, I'll take small breaks in between tasks, simply to 'cleanse the palette'. I'll get up and take a break, look at Facebook or Reddit for a couple of minutes, or go have a quick chat with someone before digging into my next task. This helps me stop thinking about the project I was working on and gets my brain in the right space to move on.
Sometimes even when working to the best of our abilities, a deadline just isn't going to get met. Communicating with clients and your project team early and often can help ease the stress of a possible deadline pushback. Deadlines are a method of planning, and if there's time to rearrange the project schedule, a client or co-worker will typically be happy to do so. The important thing to remember is not to put others in a bad situation by keeping them out of the loop. If they're a part of the process, they'll be much happier in the end, as they'll have the ability to rearrange their plans accordingly.
Realize You Are Not Super-Human
Sometimes there just isn't enough time in the day to get everything done, but it does need to get done on time. In those cases, I find it's best to take an inventory of open tasks, and decide which are easiest to hand off to others. The 'perfectionist' in me is terrified of letting others take over, but I know in my heart that if I'm overbooked, none of the work I do will be satisfactory. Handing off to others ensures the work will get done with more care and detail than I can give.