Monthly Archives: January 2009

(Not) coping with multiple projects

I haven’t posted in a long time. The reason is that my mind has been elsewhere. I’ve had a lot to do on other projects and I could not put enough effort on blogging. (There is another reason, but I’ll deal with that in a later post.)

I am not a very efficient multitasker (although, who is?) so I instinctively shun away from multiple projects. Through experiment and experience, I’ve developed an understanding of my internal project portfolio rules. Here they are, put into words for the very first time:

  • I can have one primary project.
  • Concurrently to the primary project I can have one secondary project.
  • There are no tertiary projects.
  • Secondary project cannot have a deadline.

The rules are descriptive, not prescriptive. That is, this is my understanding of how I work, internally.

Sometimes I don’t listen to my internal voice and try to disobey the rules. What happens then in my head is a redefinition of projects until the rules are satisfied again. This often happens implicitly, with bad consequences.

Say, for instance, that I am working on a primary project and a secondary project within the limits of my internal rules. A third project comes along that I feel is more important than either of the two. I put my energy into it, and magically, one of the other projects drops away, without me even noticing it.

A dropped project is no longer a project — it is just a thing I am supposed to work on, a thing I have lost my passion to do. Automatically, I try to avoid it, and if I absolutely have to work on it, my mind is elsewhere. Whatever the result, I will not be proud of it, since it is not my child anymore.

My best strategy to deal with these rules is to have one long project (primary or secondary) overlapping a lot of short projects (of the other variety). The long project keeps utilization high, and the short projects ensure that many projects finish. Incidentally, it makes sure I have time to write the blog as well.