Like many millennials, I have a composite career. As well as writing for this publication, I work as an innovation consultant and run a startup. Similar to others riding the coat tails of the gig economy, I have had to learn the art of juggling time, interests and income. And I'm not alone. As this style of working is unlikely to go anywhere, it's worth setting some principles around best practice, as at the end of the day, you're not a freelancer, you're running a business. So here are some tips for juggling multiple projects.
Block Your Time
Rather than shuffle between projects haphazardly, block dedicated time for specific projects. I know that I do my best thinking in the morning, so choose to rotate my focus area each morning, across the various projects I have going on. This means shutting off the email accounts and task lists associated with all other projects and narrowing my focus to just one thing. Laser focus is key, as this is my chance to engage in stretch, strategic thinking. The afternoons are ripe for switching into doing mode; and focus can then expand to beyond just one project.
Set Goals For Income & Effort
For each different project you have going on, set goals that take into account the amount income you draw from the project, and the amount of effort you put in. There may be some misalignment between what you spend the most time on, and where you get the bulk of your income from. Setting out goals to address the discrepancies will help you correct the balance over time and make it easier for you to the make (often difficult) decisions for your business. It may even point to the decision to wrap up certain projects altogether, in order to really double down and succeed in other areas.
Write A Task List Each Night
Sometimes, it can be difficult to shut off projects entirely, as your mind races to what needs to be done, and what balls you might be dropping by neglecting one project for a day or half-day. To overcome this, write a task list each night that outlines all your to-dos by project area. Knowing exactly what each project needs will put your mind at ease so you can turn your focus to one project the next morning without feeling like you're falling behind. If you are working with different teams across your projects, set the expectation upfront that you are not always available via email and that if urgent business crops up, to contact you via the phone.
Respect Your Passion
Some days, I'm just not feeling one of my projects. And that's ok. Rather than force it, take a break from it, fuel up on inspiration from unusual places and attack if the following day with rigor and energy. To make sure you maintain enthusiasm for the project at a higher level, interrogate the block you have - understand where it comes from and why it appeared. Once you are clear on why, ask yourself how you can do something that day to help you overcome the block. Just being aware of it will help to clear it; or tackle the nature of the block with precision the following day.