How to Stay Focused While Working on Multiple Projects
Teams within organizations are made of leaders and employees who work together to reach a common goal – the success of the organization. HR hires employees with the expertise needed. However, people end up working on additional projects that are not necessarily theirs when they are called to support a coworker. For example, when the workload of a department becomes overwhelming and the deadlines unattainable, or supervising the job of a junior, training a new employee, etc. You may need to wear different hats. It can be stressful. What can you do to minimize stress and stay productive on more than one project?
Finding a healthy balance between collaborating with various teams and delivering successful results requires planning. Working on a specific project starts with understanding the client's needs and the kind of role you will be accomplishing. Defined teams know the strengths of the group and the flow of the work. Thus, agreeing on making decisions together, processing ideas, and resolving conflicts. A cohesive team may even identify contrasting styles that cause tension to work better. Working on different teams and various projects requires adapting yourself to distinct roles and switching attention. Multiple meetings are scheduled throughout the day and may take time and stress. Having the ability to juggle duties properly by focusing your attention and developing yourself may benefit the productivity of the organization. How so?
We recommend these actions to handle the stress of managing multiple projects:
1. Prioritize the work that needs immediate attention. We suggest you start the beginning of your workday by creating an agenda that prioritizes the urgency of the tasks: schedule small meetings for the day to review deliverables, assign roles, and accountability. It is key to have realistic expectations of the status of the project and productivity as a group.
2. Identify a task and focus on it. Some people prefer to start with a less demanding project, others, like it to be demanding. Research shows that focusing on a few rather than more tasks a day leads to efficient results. When we pay attention to something specific, neurons respond to what we are focusing on, whereas those neurons responding to irrelevant information get suppressed. When the work is complete without interruption, the outcome is almost always better.
3. Communicate better. Your pace may be quick as you are juggling from project to project, so it can be hard to keep coworkers in the loop. It is integral to make sure that your team knows that “you are working on it.” You may communicate verbally, send an automatic e-mail reply, check status on the teams' outlook “busy, available, be right back,” etc. When ready, it would be a good exercise to review your piece of work.
4. Identify conflict resolutions. Your team knows best what your clients need most, so you need to focus your energy on that and make sure the team is clear with who does what. Creating a culture of “we” instead of “I” is key to collaborate for a common goal.
5. Invest in employee learning and development by engaging your employees on the “I want to” instead of on the “I have to.” Create a good relationship with the manager of the team you are working with. Leaders could take the time to meet with the junior staff to make sure they align with the organization's strategy. If you identify some gaps either from experience or knowledge, it is time to invest in your employees. Go through the nuances together and provide a few tips to get it done. In some cases, just a few hours of training may bring out the potential of an employee. Also, by acquiring new knowledge and putting it into practice the project gets better managed. The possibility of a win-win solution results in extending employee knowledge and delivering a better outcome. Leaders can also learn from employees and develop innovative ideas by creative solutions to your client’s challenges and take the organization to the next level.
Managing multiple projects may be less stressful when you prioritize project importance. Once done, identify which area of work you will focus on. Consider effective communication among team members as you check the status of the project's deadlines and deliverables. Honest communication, in turn, will help you avoid the pitfalls of conflict resolution. Finally, provide the opportunity for employee advancement and development to deliver agile solutions and innovative products and services your clients.