Spinning Plates: How to Succeed With Multiple Projects

managing multiple tasksPhoto by Aidan Jones

In this post, I want to share everything I’ve learned about successfully managing multiple projects (for you, this might be running more than one blog, more than one business, or more than one freelance project), from the planning to the execution stage.

I’ll talk about time-splitting, leveraging, batching focus and my new favorite word, elimination.

 

Time-splitting

When adding additional projects to your plate, the first question to consider is time and how you’re going to allocate it.

You have three choices in total:

  • Split your available time evenly between projects.
  • Subtract time from project #1 and dedicate more time to project #2.
  • Put the same amount of time into project #1, and allocate additional time for project #2.

Option one will involve reducing the time you spend on project #1 to 50% of its previous total, because previously you were allocating all your time to this project.

Only choose this option if you have reason to believe that the time you spend on project #2 will yield greater rewards than the time you previously spent on project #1.

Option two is commonly selected when the individual becomes disenchanted with project #1 and is willing to sacrifice a big chunk of its success in the hopes that project #2 will thrive.

The riskiest option, I’d only recommend it if you feel drained by project #1 or have supreme confidence in the success of project #2.

Option three is the time-splitting model I’ve chosen for NorthxEast. While it requires making more time available, it allows you to fuel multiple projects without forcing any one of them to ‘draw the short straw’.

That being said, not everyone will be able to find the extra time required.

Coming up with a workable answer to the time-splitting question is a necessary step in successfully managing multiple blogs or projects.

Leveraging

Here’s a set of two scenarios:

  1. A blogger maintains a blog on extreme sports and decides to start another on poetry writing.
  2. A blogger maintains a blog on extreme sports and decides to start another on adventure travel.

You can probably guess which combination would co-exist most easily. When creating multiple projects you can make less work for yourself by using one project to prop up another related project.

That being said, the blogger would be wise to leverage the extreme sports blog in both examples. Some extreme sports fans are likely to be interested in writing poetry — just not as many as would be interested in adventure travel.

You can almost always leverage one project to benefit another, even if they’re highly unrelated, by trading on your name and previous track record.

Batching focus

Batching, batching, batching — we hear the word a lot these days, but what does it mean?

The way I’ve understood it is: doing lots of one type of task at once (answering emails at once, writing posts at once, and so on).

The virtues of batching are as follows:

  • It gives you the time to develop focus.
  • It removes distractions.
  • It prevents you wasting time on re-engaging with tasks (for example, you read an email and don’t respond, then later you have to read the email once again when you do decide to respond.)

As I spin many plates, I’ve found batching both projects and tasks to be incredibly useful. I allocate one day a week to write posts for my own blog, which allows me to keep consistent with my native writing style and let the blogs run on autopilot for the rest of the week.

I allocate one day a week for fulfilling my freelance commitments, which means that I can enter a writing flow-state (and not have to worry about those commitments for the rest of the week).

Other tasks I’ve begun to batch are emails, moderation and feed reading. I feel much less fragmented and much more productive as a result.

If you’re constantly flipping and changing between projects, your attention will be fragmented and you won’t be able to do your best and fastest work.

If you’re keeping multiple balls in the air, focus on one at a time, rather than all of them at once. The secret to any great juggler’s skill is the ability to focus only on the single item entering and exiting one hand, regardless of the five or ten items currently suspended in the air.

Manage your projects like a great juggler.

Elimination

Running an established blog is a lot less work than building one from scratch. As of now, my blogging routine is very minimalist and contains only five tasks:

  • Writing content.
  • Moderating comments.
  • Answering emails.
  • Reading feeds once a week.
  • Checking stats and subscriber count once a day.

In Skelliewag’s first month, my blogging routine looked something like this:

  • Writing a long post every day.
  • Moderating comments.
  • Answering emails.
  • Leaving many comments on other blogs.
  • Guest-posting.
  • Participating in forums.
  • Using StumbleUpon actively.

By eliminating some of the more time consuming tasks, I’ve been able to free up hours each week, and that’s one of the reasons I can take on multiple projects.

The assumption that running an established blog is more work than running one which is just starting out hasn’t held true for me.

If your blog is established, your readership will generally do your promotional work for you. While you spend more time moderating comments and answering emails, this pales in comparison to the time most new bloggers do (and should) spend on self-promotion.

Being able to eliminate that has been incredibly freeing.

The principles of productivity by elimination are essential for success with multiple projects.

For each of your projects, complete this exercise:

  1. Write down all the different tasks involved in the project.
  2. Ask: what would happen if I eliminated this task completely? Record both the time you’d save and possible negative consequences. If the negative consequences are too high, ask yourself this follow-up question:
  3. Could I spend less time on this task? Once again, record the time you’d save and the possible negative consequences.

I don’t believe real productivity is about doing the same things faster. It’s about simplifying down to what’s important.

Longer-term readers will know that simplicity is important to me and I’m only just discovering the benefits of taking a minimalist approach to multiple projects.

Even with these strategies in place, I dedicate as much time as possible to each project. I don’t necessarily believe that there’s some kind of paradise state where you can run a successful project by remote control.

It’s theoretically possible, but if you’re like me, you enjoy what you’re doing. Thanks go to you for being part of an audience that has made blogging so much fun.

About Skellie

Massive nerd who just happens to enjoy anything related to blogging, creativity, and online marketing.

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