Multiple clients with multiple projects, all with multiple deadlines...
Most of us in marketing are balancing several clients, each with different projects in various stages of completion. While we are completing one project, or just getting into the meaty center of another, a new project may come in that we need to get ramped up on.
Being able to juggle multiple tasks at the same time is crucial to our success.
Even if we are not project managers per se, each of us still manages the progress we make on our various tasks and jobs. Marketing project management software can make keeping track of our work much easier, keeping documents in order, helping with resource planning and allocation, setting deadlines, and more.
Whether you are approaching a new product launch, a website redesign, or any other project, here are a few ways to effectively juggle multiple project tasks.
1. Create to-do lists and executive summaries
First, create a weekly "to-do" list for projects in process. Note the various tasks, rank them based on deadline and priority, and list what items are needed to shift the project from "in process" to "completion" status.
Within your master task list, leave a blank column for "creative ideas." As ideas come to you about related future projects, improving a current project, or contributing to a larger company plan, note these items so they are not forgotten.
Also, for every project you are balancing, create a single-page summary of all the highlights and important aspects to refer back to—including summary, status, and key updates. When all of your projects start to blend together, you will be thankful you created this document.
That summary document can also be used for key talking points when you have to explain or present the project to team members, clients, or other stakeholders.
2. Keep detailed documentation
Store all relevant project documentation on your marketing management software to keep it easily accessible to the team. Store important notes, relevant emails, and other communications, drafts, troubleshooting notes, detailed instructions, etc.—basically, all resources that will allow you to pick up right where you left off, or make it easy for someone else to jump in and help.
When you have to leave one project to work on another, it can be confusing when you return; sometimes, you aren't quite sure where you left off. Keeping good track of what you are working on is important.
If you're working on an ad campaign involving graphics and proofs and your team is scattered across the globe in four different offices, you'll appreciate these detailed notes and instructions when your team is sharing graphics, revising proofs, and updating documents.
If your client, for example, requests a change to the proof at the last minute and a key member of your design team in Paris is out of the office and another colleague must step in, the level of status detail could literally make or break your deadline—and the final project success.
3. Prioritize prioritizing
When you are juggling multiple projects you absolutely must prioritize. The time will come when several tasks need to be completed at once, and doing so is simply impossible. When you see this scenario looming, decide what is the most crucial... and tackle that first. Staring at your computer screen while panicking about everything you have to get done will not help you.
If you are unable to reallocate a few tasks, it is time to get someone to weigh in and help determine what is most important. Get opinions from management and the team if you are unsure of what to tackle first.
When you determine which task is No. 1 on the priority list, focus on that one task and that task alone. Forget multitasking for a moment; single-task that one item, ensuring the task is complete, accurate. and approved before shifting to list item No. 2.
There are tasks that lend themselves to multi-tasking (updating a status report, for example) but when possible carve aside the "focus" time you need to complete the most vital tasks without interruption.
4. Better manage your resources
A robust marketing project management software will outline how much time your team members have to spend on a project, how much time should be spent on certain tasks, and when those tasks are due. If you are managing a marketing team, being aware of the knowledge levels, skill sets, and experience of your team is important when delegating tasks. You will have a view into everyone's availability and be able to determine how much time can be allotted to each resource in order to complete the task on time.
Marketing project management software will help you better plan for projects and juggle when you have multiple projects happening simultaneously. Also, you will be able to better manage project resources, timesheets, documents, budgets, tasks, and more. Being able to collaborate across the team on these projects in one central location decreases the chances of error and confusion. Your teams will perform better, you will gain better visibility into the project, and the project will run more smoothly overall.
5. Plan, plan, plan
I mentioned the to-do list earlier, but planning is where the rubber meets the road when you need to complete tasks, manage resources, and collaborate. Your master project plan, which should include everything from the first deliverable to the final project sign-off, should be your ultimate guide for each project.
There will be days when your to-do list shifts as an urgent item comes up and you are forced to re-prioritize. It's key to make sure that everything you do aligns to the master list of tasks, assignments, and milestones. If a new task is added that affects a milestone, adjust related assignments immediately.
That "constant tracking" to the master plan keeps you in control of the project—and keeps you, your team members, and all stakeholders on the road map to success.