How to Manage Multiple Projects

May 27, 2016 Sam Petersen

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Trying to manage multiple content marketing projects at one time can be a nightmare.

On the same day I'm writing this post, I've spent time creating a presentation for our internal sales team, finalizing a storyboard for a tight-deadline video, reviewing the layout of a 30-page thought-leadership guide, updating asset folders in our DAM, and working with IT to fix an issue with my login credentials. And it's not even noon.

Surely the description of my morning isn't far from what you experience daily. And you and I both know that some days are even crazier than what I've described. This is the norm for content marketers. We're constantly working on more projects than we can count, and that's probably not about to change. According to the Content Marketing Institute, 76 percent of content marketing teams intend to produce more content this year than last.

How does a content marketer keep up with it all? How can you manage multiple content marketing projects without getting overwhelmed to the point of having an anxiety attack? I've got three tips that help answer that question.

1. Minimize distractions

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One of the most logical approaches to the dilemma of having too much to do is to simply cut down on the number of projects you're working on. Or at least hire another content marketer. Well, isn't it cute to think that? C'mon, we all know that isn't going to happen in the near future.

Even though you can't cut down on the number of projects you're working on, you can cut down on how much you're addressing everyday. I'm not referring to the strategic projects you're assigned to. I'm referring to the non-strategic stuff that fills your day––all the distractions, the ad hoc work, the fire drills, the unnecessary emails and meetings. All of that turns a manageable amount of work turn into an impossible workload, and if you can get rid of even some of the distractions you face every day, you can breathe easier and avoid feeling constantly rushed.

Here's a couple ideas for minimizing distractions:

  • Centralize your request process. Create an email alias dedicated to requests or get a work management solution that has a request intake feature. Make sure that people's requests to your team go through your intake process. If they come any other way, tell the requester you won't consider their request until it's gone through your decided request path. This will reduce the number of emails coming into your main account. It will also reduce ad hoc work and fire drills.

  • Take breaks and make them count. A high school teacher of mine used to stop class every half hour and engage us in a completely off-topic conversation for a few minutes before continuing class. The reason he did it is because we focused better when we had a break every once in awhile. I believe this is true for everyone, not just high schoolers.

Some distractions, like stopping your work to shoot the breeze with a coworker just can't be avoided (unless you want to come off as "too good"), and I believe these moments shouldn't be avoided. It's healthy to take breaks! But make them count––meaning, actually disengage from what you're doing and let your mind focus on something else. Otherwise, you're just trying to do two things at once, and you're likely to make mistakes in your work.

2. Prioritize your work

The second method for successfully managing multiple content marketing projects is to prioritize your work. Much of the stress related to juggling so many projects at one time comes from not knowing which project deserves the most attention at what moment. Project prioritization for content marketers often consists of little more than trying to put out whatever fire is burning the hottest, with little to no regard for a greater strategy.

One way to more strategically and civilly approach working on your projects is to actually use a prioritization scorecard. The image below is a content priority scorecard template that can help you manage your projects.

Scorecard

Click here to download this free content priority scorecard template

For each request or idea that comes up, score the asset in each category, and use the total from all four to prioritize assets accordingly. The highest score equals the highest priority. Keep in mind that just because a content project scores low doesn't mean you don't have to do it. It signals that higher-scoring assets should be addressed first.

Also, priorities should be revisited once a week (at least), because points will increase as deadlines approach; e.g., a blog post requested by a manager with a deadline three weeks out (a relatively low-scoring project) may be at the bottom of your priorities at the time of request, but its point value will increase as the deadline grows closer.

Feel free to customize this template by adjusting the point values and scoring categories to best reflect your team's unique workflow.

3. Communicate and maintain boundaries

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Once you've followed my first two tips, this third one is pretty easy. The suggestions I've made so far are essentially ways of creating boundaries. If you follow them, you will have created a boundary between your team and your requesters. A boundary between you and your self-inflicted need to be working constantly. A boundary (in the form of priorities) between one project and another. Now, to make these boundaries last, you have to communicate and maintain them.

For example, once you've devised a request queue, communicate with your requesters (anyone who might need you to create content) and make sure they know your request intake process. Communicate with your coworkers about your approach to socializing. Make sure they know that you're good to chat for a few minutes every once in awhile, but that you're going to ignore them if they're bringing up the NBA playoffs for the third time in an hour. Communicate with your team about your prioritization strategy, and be diligent in prioritizing your projects and spending time on your high priority items. Plus, let your requesters know where their project lies in terms of your priorities, so they can have a clear expectation of when their request will be finished.

There's liberty in boundaries, ask any therapist. So, communicate and maintain them after you've created them.

Knowing how to manage multiple content marketing projects will simplify your life

The whole point of this post is to argue that it's possible to manage multiple content marketing projects at one time and still maintain your sanity. Yes, this morning I had five things that I needed to work on. But because I've taken measures to minimize workplace interruptions, prioritize my workload, and communicate my boundaries, I didn't feel overwhelmed. And my superiors knew what they could expect from me. And best of all, I felt like I could do my highest quality work on each project.

 

About the Author

Sam Petersen

Sam believes that every marketing pain has an effective solution, and he's ready to evangelize that solution to the masses. His evangelism especially focuses on topics related to creative services, in-house agencies, content marketing, and Agile Marketing. He works with the solutions marketing team at Workfront Monday through Friday, and goes to the mountains or the pickle ball courts on the weekends.

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