7 Tips to manage multiple projects

If you are a project manager, chances are that you are handling more than one project at a time. And, of course, with multiple projects come multiple responsibilities, day-to-day challenges, and, inevitably, greater amounts of stress. 

Still, there are ways to learn to manage multiple projects simultaneously. 

In this article, we’ll explore:

  • The difference between a project and a task,
  • The concept of project portfolio management,
  • Potential problems of managing multiple projects, and
  • Possible ways of making multiple-project management easier and more effective.

So, keep on reading, and you’ll find some guidelines on how to get a hang of multiple-project management.

7 tips to manage multiple projects - cover

Projects vs. tasks — what’s the difference?

Even if you are in charge of a single project, you still have to take care of its many elements — that is, its parts. These parts of a project are what we know as tasks. 

Your success in managing a project depends on how well you manage these tasks. In that sense, tasks can be observed as small projects. 

However, managing multiple tasks is not nearly as challenging as managing multiple projects. This is the result of the differences in their complexities, which include the following:

  • Projects call for careful planning and coordination — tasks don’t.
  • Projects require a risk management plan — tasks don’t.
  • Projects are carried out in several stages — a task is done in a single stage.
  • Projects take more time and resources — tasks can be completed in a short period of time.

What is project portfolio management (PPM)?

The problem of managing multiple projects at a time is especially noticeable in large organizations that deal with tons of projects. 

Another problem is the fact that these projects are often very different from each other, which makes it even more difficult to successfully handle them. 

That’s where project portfolio management comes into play. 

In project portfolio management, projects which are similar in some way are put in a portfolio. 

Creating portfolios makes it easier for project managers to: 

This way, the waste of resources should be reduced to a minimum. 

Project portfolio management (PPM) vs. project management (PM)

Project portfolio management is not to be confused with project management, even though the two may seem similar. 

Let’s take a look at some of the key differences:

  • Project managers focus on one or more projects — project portfolio managers take care of all projects within an organization.
  • Project portfolio managers work towards long-term goals — project managers usually stick to short-term ones.
  • Project portfolio managers deal with the success of the company as a whole — project managers are focused on the success of individual projects or projects that they work on.

4 Potential problems of managing multiple projects

When you’re in charge of several projects, either as a project manager or a project portfolio manager, you always have to juggle between different tasks. 

With that in mind, it’s only natural to make mistakes when faced with multitasking. 

Here are some common problems that multitasking between projects often brings. Keep on reading, and you will learn some tricks to help you solve them.

Problem #1: Communication problems

Being a project manager in charge of several projects, you’ll have to deal with a number of people. In such situations, misunderstandings may arise at any moment. 

At times, no matter how hard you try, you simply can’t avoid failing to get your message across from time to time. 

Common issues in communication among project teams include:

  • Misunderstanding roles and responsibilities,
  • Unclear project objectives,
  • Poor task descriptions, etc. 

To prevent large-scale complications, a project manager should keep in mind all these unforeseen situations and set processes in place that will help them overcome them.

Problem #2: Lack of trust

Project managers are often snowed under tons of work. 


Well, they often overestimate themselves and take on more work than they can handle. Thus, they fail to recognize the need to delegate some of their tasks to others.

However, the more people project managers have to work with, the greater the chances they simply won’t click with all of them. 

This can be problematic when it comes to delegating work.

Problem #3: Bad planning

While planning many projects, it’s quite possible that something will go wrong. 

If it turns out that a particular plan is not as appropriate as initially thought, it may require revision — and that inevitably calls for additional time and money.

Problem #4: Failure to adapt

Sticking rigidly to the plan and failing to adapt to changes can lead to serious issues when managing multiple projects. 

Similarly, poor estimation can lead to more errors in decision-making and cause major setbacks in the future.

7 Tips to manage multiple projects

As we’ve established in the previous section of this article, managing multiple projects at a time is a challenge. 

Such challenges call for skillful project managers that are able to grapple with whatever comes their way. 

Now, let’s take a look at some tips to manage multiple projects that will come in handy in various situations.

Tip #1: Plan ahead

The essence of a successful project is the plan. Bear in mind that the original plan will probably change as the project progresses. 

Still, you need to have something to start with. 

You will have to plan your: 

  • Resources, 
  • Deadlines, 
  • Priorities, etc.

Additionally, you will also need a detailed schedule and project roadmap.

And, remember — poor planning may lead to project failure. That is why planning has to be done as best as possible. 

One of the easiest ways to make it work is to use project management platforms. Some of them, like Plaky, are completely free to use and offer a myriad of useful features.

In Plaky, you can create a board for a project and add tasks
In Plaky, you can create a board for a project and add tasks

You can keep track of multiple projects by creating a board for each project. Inside every board, you can organize projects into their constituent tasks. 

Apart from that, you can add fields to help you keep track of individual tasks. These fields will help you organize your project according to different criteria, such as: 

  • Due dates,
  • Status, and 
  • Priority.

If you prefer, you can create your board using one of many templates Plaky offers. Depending on the type of work you do, you can take your pick.

Create a board from scratch or from a template
Create a board from scratch or from a template

You can further adjust each template by adding:

  • Fields,
  • Labels,
  • Tags,
  • Deadlines, and more.

Tip #2: Maintain good communication

In order for a project to produce the expected results, it is important that all participants stay well-informed at all times. 

However, when you are managing several projects at the same time, good communication is not that easy to achieve. Changes pop up, and it’s crucial that you notify everyone about them. 

Plaky offers highly useful features that help you maintain good communication with your team.

Plaky offers several options to notify people about changes
Plaky offers several options to notify people about changes

If you make some changes to a card your team members are subscribed to, they will get notified. Each of them will get an in-app notification, as well as an email notification.

Another way to announce modifications is to use the @mention option in the comments section. 

You can mention a particular person (@person) or a whole team (@team). This way you will save time and make sure everyone is up to date with the latest changes.

Tip #3: Adapt to changes

Sticking to the original plan from start to finish is definitely not a recipe for success. Things change over time, and so do the factors that influence your projects. Thus, you will have to modify your plan to keep up with the current state of affairs.

For doing this, you will have to take into consideration factors like the progress of your project and the performance of the team. 

Your project may turn out far too risky or unprofitable. Or, it may turn out that some tasks should be prioritized, although they weren’t originally considered urgent.

Therefore, if you want your project to stay on the right track, you should introduce these changes in a timely manner. 

Good project management software is equipped with options to modify data at any time.

It also allows you to control who can modify this data.

Plaky allows you to change permissions with just a few clicks
Plaky allows you to change permissions with just a few clicks

In Plaky, you have a variety of options to modify your boards. 

For instance, you can:

  • Choose which boards are visible to everyone, to some members, or only to you, and
  • Allow or bar selected members from editing content.

Tip #4: Delegate work

Remember — you can’t do it all by yourself! You are not a team of one, but of many members, each with their own roles and responsibilities. 

Managing a single project on your own can sometimes be too much, let alone managing multiple projects at the same time. 

So, if you are beginning to feel overwhelmed, start thinking about delegating some of the tasks to your team. 

Remember, sharing is caring, and you all have the same goal — the success of the project.

In Plaky, you can assign a person to a particular task
In Plaky, you can assign a person to a particular task

For instance, in Plaky, you have the option to leave a note to each team member informing them about new tasks or developments. 

You can notify a person by leaving them a note in Plaky
You can notify a person by leaving them a note in Plaky

Besides comments, you can further explain the task by attaching files or including helpful links in the task description.

Tip #5: Stay organized

When you have multiple projects to take care of, it’s easy to get lost in the data. Therefore, it’s important to find a way to maintain a bird’s eye view of all your projects at all times.

One of the ways to do so is to store your projects in a single place. You can, for instance, use project management software to store multiple projects and keep track of each of them.

Change the look of your board according to your needs
Change the look of your board according to your needs

You can, for example, organize your projects in the form of a table or a Kanban board. In Plaky, you can add: 

  • Fields, 
  • Items, 
  • Item Groups, and many other elements.

This way, you can keep track of everything you’re required to do, including deadlines and priorities.

Tip #6: Avoid multitasking

Multitasking can be demanding. It’s not easy to handle multiple tasks simultaneously and give each the amount of attention it requires. In fact, research shows that switching between tasks can lower your productivity by a whopping 40%. Thus, you should avoid multitasking as it often leads to mistakes.

The best way is to sort your tasks according to their urgency. This way, you will focus on the most important things first and avoid wasting time on tasks that can wait. 

The Eisenhower matrix can help you with that. It is based on the idea that urgent tasks are not always important. Therefore, it suggests that you should do the important tasks yourself, and delegate those urgent but less important to others.

In Plaky, you can easily change the status of your tasks
In Plaky, you can easily change the status of your tasks

Plaky offers several useful options for managing individual tasks. You can set: 

  • Progress statuses (Doing, Done, In progress…), 
  • Priority statuses (High, Medium, Low), and 
  • Due dates.

These categories can be altered at any time as the project progresses to reflect the task’s changing statuses.

Tip #7: Minimize distractions

Concentrating on a task is not easy, especially when you are a project manager dealing with multiple projects at the same time. What may be of great help is reducing distractions to a minimum. 

For example, you can indicate to your colleagues that you are in the middle of an important task. You can do so by setting your status in the team chat app or your calendar to Busy, Do Not Disturb, or the like.

In Plaky, you can use status labels and customize them to help you highlight the importance of a particular project. You can do so by using labels of various colors.

Choose a label and customize it any way you want
Choose a label and customize it any way you want

Here’s an idea to help you mark the projects that require your full concentration. 

You can choose a red label and name it Red Alert. Then, when you start working on a task that demands concentration, you can set that label for that task. 

This way, you will signal to your team members that you should not be disturbed while the label is on.

Conclusion: Master managing multiple projects with these tips

Project managers usually juggle multiple projects at a time, but the question is — how many is too many? Often, the number will depend on the size, complexity, and significance of the projects, as well as the capability of the project manager.

Successfully managing multiple projects requires additional skills and tools beyond what is normally required for managing a single project. It can be quite a challenge, but there are ways to achieve it. The trick is in knowing how to strategize, plan, and act. 

Learning some tips and tricks and opting for the right project management tool will definitely help you. What’s also important is creating a productive work environment and keeping a positive attitude along the way.

✉️ These are some of the ways to balance between projects, but there are plenty more. Share with us the hacks that help you handle multiple projects at blogfeedback@plaky.com, and we may feature your suggestions in this or some of our future posts. Also, if you liked this post and found it useful, share it with someone who would also benefit from it!

AnaAntic Ana  Antic

Ana Antic is a project management researcher and author whose goal is to assist companies and individuals in the process of handling various projects. She decided to dive into the world of project management with the aim of exploring the skills and techniques that lead to a successful project. She believes that being a good project manager is not something we are born with but something we acquire.