Question: What’s the maximum number of projects to try concurrently?
1-2 major projects or 3-4 smaller ones. This seems to hold true across many industries and is a sort of Agile rule of thumb. If you take on too many projects at once, things will get confused or there will be too many meetings and not enough time to do actual work. I start mixing up product names and talking to the wrong team until I look like an idiot. If the product names change a lot – oh what a tangled web it becomes.
If all the projects are ultra mega hyper urgent priority with accelerated timelines it’ll be hard to juggle and coordinate. Everyone will want things from you right now, all the time. Even the Bible says that “No man can serve two masters”.
If the projects have varying priorities and due dates, it may be easier to keep up. If they’re all due the same week, crazy! But dates shift all the time, so you can always hope for a reprieve. Even high priority projects have waiting periods or gaps where you are waiting for something else to happen. You can use this time to work on the side projects and keep them up to date.
Having too many open-ended projects that never reach closure is also bad. It’s possible to have 8+ projects on a docket, with 5 of them languishing for months. This distracts concentration and also we tend to forget where things stand and why. Then people ask for the document, and we sound lame if we say “It’s not ready yet…” but we can’t explain what the holdup was.
Sometimes it’s OK to let projects die on the vine. Get your doc to a stable state and move on. Projects have been known to die and suddenly rise again from the grave multiple times over weeks or months… or even hours.