Keeping track of multiple projects

How do you keep sane when juggling multiple projects? For me, a to-do list and a way to organize project-related information make life so much better.

I’m planning two Idea Labs and an expertise location pilot, supporting a training course, assisting with a proposal, helping with two workshops, answering questions related to four potential Idea Labs, and adding to my community toolkit.

The key challenges are:

  • keeping track of all the actions I need to take and by when, so that I can estimate my workload and give people more accurate feedback
  • organizing information so that I can find and share it
  • following up on what I’ve asked other people to do

Toodledo helps me stay focused on what I need to do at work and at home. Capturing all the different things I need to do and making sure that due dates are written down means I don’t have to stress out about things falling through the cracks.

The Lotus Notes Activities sidebar lets me organize project information and refer to past discussions. Activities also makes it easy for me to add other people and share resources with them.

For following up, I’m getting used to creating tasks representing things I’m waiting for, and regularly reviewing this.

How do you eat an elephant sandwich?

One bite at a time.

  • Try TaskCoach. It will help track effort as well. It syncs with the iPod app but it’s pretty expensive ($0.99 + taxes). It helps track multiple projects.

    For my workflow (which I am still trying to visualize and draw properly), before I put an e-mail that represents a task I have to do under “Filed” under Notes I have to put it in TaskCoach.

  • I like Toodledo’s web interface, but TaskCoach’s XML-based format and cross-platform support is really tempting, particularly if I can hack in an e-mail interface so that I can keep my automatic library-renewal-reminder task generator. (It tells me which books I need to return.) ;) I’ll play around with it sometime. Thanks!

  • Let me begin by saying you accomplish a LOT compared to… hmm.. pretty much everyone I know. It’s good to know you struggle with the same challenges as us mere humans.

    That said, todo lists are great. Managing them – setting ticklers and triggers – they’re all very left-brained. There are meta-patterns that can get lost while pursuing to-do list items. There’s a certain ZEN quality about juggling multiple projects that bespeaks more the path you are choosing and the journey you’re experiencing than merely the ‘crossing out’ of tasks that are done.

    I’m not gonna take away from toodledo or any other task manager. But I am going to suggest that task managers cannot paint the whole picture. And there must be a process (might even be regimented) to step back, slow one’s breathing and observe the patterns.

    From Illusions by Richard Bach: “I am a fragment of a mirror whose design I cannot know. Yet with what I know I can shine the light into the dark places in the hearts of men where otherwise the light would never shine.”

    I don’t think that’s quite verbatim – but you’ll now be forced to hunt down the exact quote if you wanna know what comes before and after that line.

  • Brendon Robinson

    I have had good success with tracking my projects using todo lists and heirarchies of todos in org-mode. I do notice a tendency for my to-do list to slowly migrate to a project list as longer and longer \todos\ make their way onto the list. I’m finding that this reduces it’s utility as a list of immediate action items. What techniques do you use to ensure that long-term projects stay separated from immediate action items?/