I’m staring down a few deadlines for rather large projects. I took 3 weeks off from work between late July and Labor Day, and while this was great from an overall life optimization stand-point, I’m kind of paying for it on the work front now. So I’m trying to be strategic about my time. Fortunately, I have all kinds of time management tricks up my sleeve!
The key to dealing with multiple projects, I’ve decided, is that on any given day, I act as if I only have one. Each project gets its own day, scheduled now about a week out. Until 3 p.m. (unless I have a previously scheduled interview/phone call) I focus completely on that one project. I aim to get as much as possible done. Come 3 p.m., I can start picking up the pieces of everything else. This includes answering email, scheduling stuff for the other projects, travel logistics, etc.
The amazing part of this is that when you actually focus on one piece of work from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. (with a break for lunch) you can get a lot done. In two nose-to-the-grindstone days, I cranked out a draft of my 10,000-word ebook. It’s not done yet, but in 7-hour chunks, you get a lot closer. In 7 focused hours, you can write and practice a speech, write a magazine article, do heavy editing on about 15 pages of text, etc.
Psychologically, this is easier said than done. For starters, the inbox is screaming to be lavished with its usual attention. Second, you have to trust that, even though you know the deadline for something is a week away, you cannot work on it until Thursday (or whatever the designated day is). If you attempt to sneak in some morning work time on it — and start toggling back and forth between projects — the miracles that arise from focus will not happen.
But once you start training yourself to really focus, the results are kind of addictive. I think I’ll try to keep this up when things settle down a bit. I’m also reminded how glad I am to work from home — I think it would be quite difficult to squirrel away for 7 hours in an office. How do you manage multiple projects?
In other news:
Modern Mrs. Darcy’s e-book on combining work and life, called Work Shift, will be released on Thursday. I’ll try to write more about it later, but I’m on the road a bit so I thought I’d give a heads-up now.