2015-CalendarAs a solopreneur and professional services provider, you’ve got two options when you have multiple clients to satisfy, and multiple projects to tackle.

  1. Focus on just one project at a time, finishing one before starting on the next.
  2. Work on multiple projects simultaneously.

I’ve discovered A is often not practical or possible. If clients need to wait in line for you to begin their projects, they could grow frustrated and decide they’d rather give the work to someone else.

Alternatively, B allows you to make progress on multiple projects and keep multiple clients happy. But that modus operandi presents challenges, too. It requires planning and discipline to stay the course.

As a solopreneur and freelance writer working with anywhere from 10-15 clients in any given month, I’ve discovered the number one must-do to manage multiple projects is SCHEDULING THE WORK.

I Repeat: Schedule Your Work!

Rather than simply noting deadlines and assuming you’ll knock out all deliverables by then, reserve time slots on your calendar for working on the various pieces and tasks related to each project.

I know Carol uses Microsoft* Outlook for that purpose, but you could use any calendar or project management tool that you’re comfortable with.

Reserving the time you need for all things related to projects will help you plan your time and give clients delivery dates you can confidently (and realistically) commit to, barring any unforeseen circumstances like not receiving the details or direction needed from clients or others involved in projects.

Mapping out your time on your calendar gives you an hour-by-hour, day-by-day, week-by-week, and month-by-month view of what you’ll need to do and when you should be doing it. It also can save you from misjudging how much available time you have, so you don’t overcommit yourself.

But That’s Not All You Need To Do.

Managing multiple projects requires communicating consistently and clearly with your clients.

They need to know:

  • What you’ve completed.
  • What you’ll be working on next and when you expect to complete it.
  • What you need from them (feedback, more information, etc.), so you can continue to make progress on their project.

To facilitate smooth sailing, consider giving clients work to review in manageable chunks as you complete it. In my experience, that best accommodates clients’ busy schedules, and prevents them from becoming overwhelmed by having too much to look over all at once.

And by asking for feedback as you go, you’ll likely need to make fewer revisions as projects progress. That gives you an opportunity to hone what you produce based on your clients’ feedback, which means less rework.

Have Patience; It’s Worth It.

Not everyone has innate project management abilities, so don’t get upset if managing multiple projects doesn’t come naturally at first. Expect it to take some determination and concentration—and anticipate some frustration—before you’ve seamlessly incorporated it into your routine.

Keep your eye on the prize. Improving on your project management skills will help you not only handle the work you have now, but also potentially expand your capacity to take on new projects. It’s all in the planning—and knowing what you need to do, and when you need to do it.

*Disclosure: Intercap and/or Carol Roth have a client relationship with Microsoft