HOW TO MANAGE MULTIPLE PROJECTS AT ONCE
A career built on ideas is a precarious thing. On the one hand, you get to work on - and hopefully monetise - those crazy sparks of inspiration that pop into your head when you're having a shower or just walking down the street. On the other hand, you start to feel like an exhausted babysitter for the ideas themselves: Spilling out of notebooks, scrawled on Post-It notes, keeping you awake at night...
If you're a freelancer of any description, it's highly like that you're juggling several projects at any given time - while simultaneously managing your finances and plotting your next moves. Exciting? Yes. Confusing and sometimes overwhelming to manage? Undoubtedly. Here are a few ideas for how to keep those plates spinning without losing your mind.
Break it Down
First things first: get crystal clear on what you're doing, and what still needs to be done (don't worry about what you might add in the future just yet). For each of your current projects, take a blank sheet of paper, open a blank document, or start a new Note in your app of choice (see below) and list every single task between you and completion. There. You probably feel more organised already.
Pick Your Tools
Some people like to project manage with multiple notebooks. Others like whiteboards. Personally I'm an Evernote fan. Whatever your organsational tool of choice, it's worth consolidating all your thoughts into one place so you can keep track of stuff on any given day (or device).
There are lots of ways to approach project management, but the only one that almost certainly won't work (or at least, not effectively) is endlessly jumping from task to task, never really finishing or making much progress on any - and exhausting your brain in the process.
Depending on the consistency of your to-do list, it might be worth blocking out certain days to deal with certain types of work i.e. Mondays for Project A, Wednesdays for Project B. Obviously this schedule can be adjusted according to deadline, but giving yourself a full day to tackle a project is generally more productive than spending 20 minutes on this and 20 minutes on that ad infinitum.
Go On Auto-Pilot
When you're making endless creative and administrative decisions on a daily basis, the brain can become easily fatigued. Combat this by automating as much of your daily schedule as you possibly can: your breakfast, your workout, your working hours etc. When you don't have to map out every single moment of your day every morning, you'll have more mental energy to deal with the stuff that matters.
Remember Why You Started
There's no doubt that juggling lots of different work projects can be stressful, but it's also highly stimulating. Whenever I'm freaked out having 'too much' going on, I try to remember the alternative: not having enough going on. Having done jobs that I found tedious in the past - albeit for mercifully brief periods of time - know that, for me, stress is preferable to mental sedation any day of the week. Pick your poison! Then make your plan.