How Many Projects Should Project Managers Oversee and Manage?
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Related: A Day in the Life of a Project Manager
In this video, we follow Gillian, a project manager for an agency in New York, as she shows you what a day in the life of a project manager is actually like, including work hours, work environment and job duties.
Some companies might hire employees to manage several projects at once. Overseeing the progress of many projects can take extensive time, energy and resources. You increase your chances of managing these tasks successfully by using your time-management, organization and communication skills and abilities. In this article, we discuss how many projects a project manager might typically oversee and manage and how to successfully handle multiple projects at once.
How many projects should a project manager manage?
The number of projects a project manager should manage typically ranges anywhere from three to 20 and depends on the employee's expertise and the complexity of the projects assigned. For instance, an entry-level employee may prefer to take their time complete on a few projects to familiarize themselves with the work, while a more established project manager can handle and complete several similar projects quickly.
Some projects may only require you to finish a few tasks a month, while others contain several time-consuming assignments. Deadlines can also impact how many projects you can handle at once, as some might have longer flexible deadlines, while others have strict upcoming due dates.
How to manage multiple projects
Follow these steps to successfully manage multiple projects at once:
1. Place all your projects in one place
Have your projects outlined and featured in one location to easily locate, reference and use them when needed. This helps you visualize each project and how long it might take to complete them. Add any resources or important information in the same place as well to easily refer to and remind yourself of essential items for the project. This can include documents, notes or guidelines from the client, names of employees assigned to certain tasks and contact information of clients or other references.
2. Create a to-do list for each project
Once your projects are together in one place, build a to-do list and action plan for completing each one. You can include new or recurring tasks needed to finish each project and schedule individual deadlines for each. This ensures you hold yourself accountable for staying on track to submit each project on time. Your to-do list items can serve as a visual aid to understand what other items you have coming up throughout the day or week. Once you finish a task, you can return to the list and check it off before moving on to the next item.
Related: How To Manage a To-Do List
3. Prioritize your tasks
Once you have a to-do list prepared, you can start prioritizing those items according to upcoming deadlines and the impact they have on the organization's success. Use this time to build a weekly schedule or calendar and input these items into it. Establish the dates and times you have meetings or other appointments and schedule these tasks around them. Try to give yourself plenty of time to complete each item and plan for any unexpected events to occur that day, like questions from coworkers or last-minute assignments. Scheduling your tasks properly ensures you submit the entire project by its deadline.
4. Research project management tools
To increase the visibility and collaboration of your projects, you can upload them to a project management tool. These are software programs that organize your projects, assign to other team members and review each task's progress through graphs, pictures or charts. You can create certain templates that match your workflow to allow yourself to quickly move through and monitor tasks at a steady pace. These tools also allow you to check in on the progress of other employees to ensure you submit all deliverables on time.
5. Delegate work items accordingly
Try to regularly re-evaluate your upcoming to-do list items to ensure you have enough time to complete all of them by their deadlines. Take note of any tasks that seem simpler and more time-consuming and consider delegating these items to employees who have the knowledge, expertise and time to finish them. This allows you to dedicate more time to larger, more complex work items. If you delegate your own tasks to employees, remember to provide detailed instructions on how to work on them to ensure they can complete them efficiently, with limited questions.
6. Block out time to focus
To ensure you have enough time to focus on essential items, consider blocking out a certain period on your calendar to work on it. You can add this to your public calendar to notify employees to reach out to you with questions or assignments when your calendar is open. This gives you time to handle one key task at a time to ensure you submit a quality assignment. During this time, try to mute your notifications on both your phone or computer to limit any distractions while you handle this task.
7. Check on projects' statuses regularly
If you assign different tasks to employees, try to regularly view their progress and reach out to them for updates. This allows them to inform you of whether they require additional resources, information or time to complete their task on time. Consider reviewing the timeline of all your projects each day to better understand if you're on track to submit them by their respective deadlines. You can also hold meetings with employees working on these items to provide them with a space to ask additional questions and to inform you of how long they require to complete an assignment.
8. Adjust your schedule accordingly
There may be moments where unexpected tasks or obstacles arise throughout the day that provide you with less time than expected to complete your scheduled items. Try to return to your schedule regularly to move various items around when needed. Determine which tasks have more flexible deadlines to move them to later dates so you can focus on priority assignments. Remain flexible and willing to work with a changing workflow to ensure you remain calm and relaxed when last-minute challenges or items occur throughout the day.
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