Most of the entrepreneurs and freelancers I know juggle several projects at once. They are in the process of finishing up some projects, in the midst of working on others, and ready to begin even more in the coming weeks. For those with traditional jobs, it might be tough to see how all of the juggling is possible.
As someone embarking on several projects at the moment, I’m trying to master a few of the most common tricks. Until recently, I focused primarily on client-driven projects. In a way, all projects are client-driven, so let me explain the distinction. Client-driven for me means a client contacts me with very specific goals in mind or I make contact with a client with a project in the works. For instance, applying for jobs on Elance.com results in client-driven work.
The other type of project (we’ll call it self-driven, though this is not a perfect description) is intended to help business growth. Clients will eventually be involved, but the project starts with my own idea. In addition to various client-driven projects, currently I am working on four self-driven projects. This includes two ebooks, though one is just in the idea phase at the moment, a marketing campaign targeting a very specific market, and the relaunch a website I started about two years ago. When I realized I was hopping from project to project a few weeks ago, I decided to create a plan. If you are the type of freelancer or business owner faced with these same project juggling challenges, you might find my plan helpful.
Create a List of Priorities
I created a numbered list for the projects based on my goals. I kept the list very general to keep confusion and overwhelm at a minimum. The first item on the list is client-driven projects. This is what is paying the bills right now so it must be priority #1. The second was rebuilding the website. I plan to use it in the marketing campaign and for at least one of the ebooks, so it should be finished before I focus on those projects. The third item on the list is the marketing campaign, and the final two are the ebooks. The list is very basic and my use of it is, too: It’s on a post-it stuck to my planner. Simple, but focused.
Once priorities are set, deadlines are needed. I’m in the process of creating these and they scare the heck out of me. I am great with deadlines when it comes to client-driven projects and often finish projects ahead of time. Then I kick back for the rest of the day and clean my mounting pile of dishes, as referenced here. Sticking to self-imposed deadlines is a little tougher for many people. My plan is to finish everything except the second ebook by the end of 2012, so I need to get those deadlines in order.
Create Public Accountability
And finally, let everyone know about your plans because nothing is more motivating than the pending embarrassment of people knowing you did not follow through on a project (partially kidding). So here I am. Also, I’ve given more details to my husband about the projects or more specifically, how I’m going to turn my small writing business into something wildly successful in the coming year or so. This public accountability results in a few things:
- The motivation of potential embarrassment, as mentioned before.
- Support from other people for the projects. Believe it or not friends, family, and even strangers will be excited about your projects. Not all of them all the time, but if you keep at it, you are going to catch somebody’s attention.
- Clarity and determination because you are creating a road map to your goals. If you are like most creative professionals there are several ideas floating around in your mind. Speaking or writing about them brings them into focus and allows you to commit to the important ideas.
Your method for moving forward with projects might be a little different or you might want to incorporate a few of these tips. Feel free and share your thoughts below!