How to: Manage Projects Efficiently
I am currently sitting in the restaurant of the IBIS Hotel in Marrakech, where I have come to meet the president of the Mayshad Foundation, Nezha Alaoui, and to meet my father who’s arriving tomorrow. Meeting Nezha was quite spontaneous, as it was organised only a few days before each of our arrivals. She usually resides in New York and tends to travel around quite a lot for Mayshad-related affairs. It just so happened that I was travelling down to Marrakech that very weekend.
Anyways, this post is not about the meeting, but it is about something we discussed today: constantly multitasking, and managing various projects simultaneously. See, today I realised that Nezha and I are quite similar in this way; we both are fueled by productivity, we need to have multiple things to do, multiple projects to be in charge of, to thrive. On my part, this is why I started this blog and the business; studying online and volunteering are great, however, I wanted to find a way to gain more work experience and to have something to do for the 2-3 hours a day I wasted on Instagram or Youtube.
Now, how does one manage multiple projects at once? Of course, you need discipline and passion for whatever project you are managing, but you also have to have the right motives. Why are you doing this? Is it to fulfil your own needs, or someone else’s?
Personally, I enjoy managing multiple projects simultaneously but cannot count on motivation alone. The first thing I count on is my calendar; every Sunday evening I sit down and look at the assignments due the following weeks, the places I need to travel to, the conferences I have to prepare and apply for, and the freelance work I need to get done. I schedule two weeks in detail in advance and base this on the big events or deadlines coming up. For example, if I am travelling to Belgium in April to share my research on HIV/AIDS, I’ll plan my schedule accordingly starting in February to make sure I can really enjoy the conference, without stressing about articles I need to write or assignments due the same day.
I try to schedule everything; whether it be the two to three-hour studying slots in the morning (if I’m not otherwise occupied, as I am at the moment interning for Mayshad), or the thirty minutes I spend walking home and getting ready for the gym. Of course, it can be overwhelming at times to have everything pre-planned, but it’s a necessity to get everything done on time.
For example, if I have work to do for Mayshad, articles to write for this blog, three assignments due over the week, conferences to apply for and to prepare, am travelling to Marrakech over the weekend for a Ted Talk, and have 3 contracts on Coach Coralie, I can’t be spontaneous or I’ll find myself finishing up work at 3 AM, which brings me to my next point.
An important part of the managing projects effectively is to save up on your energy when you can and to have a healthy lifestyle to ensure you wake up fully ready to be productive. How can I work well if I only slept for 4 hours? How can I feel good if I eat a diet full of sugar and never exercise? In the “grind” era we live in, too little importance is given to the importance of taking care of yourself, and not doing this enough can lead you to a serious burnout!
Talking about burnout, it’s important to take time off. If that means taking an entire Sunday without checking your emails and booking a hotel room in a small city far away to spend all day in bed, then so be it. In my case, I prefer taking Friday and Saturday nights off to ensure I can spend time with friends, but I’m ready to sacrifice the weekend days and to work during those.
Finally, if you decide to start multiple projects at once, you have to get ready to do some overtime. Unfortunately, your workday doesn’t end at 5 PM when you leave the office. For it to really work, you need to be invested, which means you might have to work late some nights or wake up really early some mornings.
It may seem like all I do is work, however, I see this as an investment. Furthermore, it’s something I love doing. I can’t think of anything more boring than waking up in the morning with no purpose or nothing to do/nowhere to go. I am driven by the fact that I need to get X number of things done, and love to see my goals being reached because I’ve planned my time accordingly.