How to Balance Multiple Projects
How to balance competing priorities and somehow make progress across all of them, simultaneously.
Productivity geeks love to-do lists because they prevent multitasking.
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to manage multiple projects using a sequential task list.
To-do lists can’t cope with multiple competing priorities and the frequent arrival of urgent tasks.
Something slightly more complex is needed.
We need a reframe for thinking about ongoing projects:
Rather than focusing on completing tasks (the output), focus on spending a balanced amount of time on each project (the inputs). Controlled multitasking should produce the desired output, given enough time.
There’s nothing inherently evil about multitasking, provided the frequency of switching is long enough.
If you swap tasks every 10 minutes, you’ll hamper your effectiveness. But if you swap tasks every three hours or every day, that’s fine.
So the trick is to maintain separate to-do lists per work theme.
Once your calendar is balanced across multiple projects, the final step is to create individual to-do lists for each topic.
Separate lists allow you to make progress in priority order for each topic you work on while simplifying the prioritization of new work.
Each morning, look at your calendar and see which project you’re working on today.
Then, open the appropriate to-do list and work through it.
There’s no need to fret about other projects because you’ve allocated time for them later in the week.
Out of sight, out of mind.
It’s very helpful for focus.