Throughout the year, there are times that are busier than others. It’s inevitable that projects are going to overlap and stack up. Deadlines move, freelancers book up, jobs cancel…it requires a clear head and detail-oriented thinking to keep things straight.
To successfully manage multiple projects, here’s a few things I do that can help you hit all your deadlines and avoid costly mistakes.
Know Your Limits
Every sole proprietor, small business, or even big business for that matter has limits. There’s a finite amount of time, resources, and money that’s available, no matter how much people might try to convince you otherwise. What separates those that are successful from those that struggle is knowing how to juggle and manage those resources.
Understand how much work you can take on. Be realistic about the length of a project. Don’t use a “best-case scenario” or a “well if everything goes to plan…” mindset. Rarely do best-case scenarios ever pan out. Be realistic in what you and your team can accomplish. If you have to say no to a client because you’re too busy, that’s OK. I’ve found that it’s better to say no to a client than do poor work. The damage to your reputation will be far greater than the sum of just that one job.
When there’s a lot of work, recognize you can’t do all of it yourself. Work with other talented creatives to help execute your vision. Sure, you might be tempted to just edit that short piece yourself, but do you have the time? Could your time be better spent working on another project more suited to your skillset?
I’ve found it’s much easier to hire out specific roles on a project because most of the time, the creatives I hire end up giving me a better product than if I had done it myself. I could have edited that short video or designed those motion graphics, but the point is that I didn’t have to pull an all-nighter to get it done. I could get a good night’s sleep and come back the next day fresh. Ultimately, it’s up to you to ask yourself this one question: “What is my time worth?” If it’s worth more than what you’re willing to pay someone else, then it’s time to squad up.
There are numerous services out there to help you manage your workload. I’ve used several different ones over the years and none have been much help until recently. Here’s a few I recommend:
A very simple web-based project management system. It lets you create “Boards” for different categories of tasks and “Cards” to represent those tasks. You can create checklists and upload documents to different Cards. You can add team members so they can see progress and make comments too.
I only started using Slack a few weeks ago, and I’m finding it’s incredibly useful for communication with team members. You can create different channels for various projects, post links and documents, etc. It functions like a feed so it’s quicker to find things when you search.
Google’s suite of apps for business. Setup email, contacts, calendar, drive, docs and link it to other accounts or their mobile apps. These collaboration tools are essential. I've used a number of other email and cloud services over the years, and Google really has it locked up in terms of reliability and ease of use.