How to Manage Multiple Projects (And Actually Get Things Done)

By Sean Ogle •  Updated: 11/06/18 •  8 min read

How to Manage Multiple Projects (And Actually Get Things Done)Being an entrepreneur is a constant struggle.

I’ve never met a single true entrepreneur who wasn’t always looking for the next big thing.

It doesn’t matter how little free time they have, or what the state is of their current projects, they are always open to new possibilities.

This can be both a good and a bad thing, but for me personally, it’s left me more than a little overwhelmed at points over the past few years.

In the past, I haven’t always been great at managing multiple projects. Usually, right in the midst of finishing one product, I’d decide it was a great time to start a new venture! So I’d go for it – regardless of how close I was to finishing the other project.

And rather than having one project at 100%, I’d have two (or even three) projects at various stages of completion.

I can’t explain why this happens, maybe it’s just the entrepreneur in me.

Thankfully, over the years I’ve learned how to manage multiple projects better.

Case in point, we’ve been dedicating a lot of time this year to improving Location Rebel. But, I’ve also been spending a lot of time on my golf site, Breaking Eighty, my golf membership club, the Eighty Club, doing golf marketing, and running a couple of other projects.

Part of that was building good habits but I also realized there were some fundamental components of project management that I had been using to help me start and finish projects.

Maybe these will help you too!

1) Improve Your Organization

If you can’t force yourself to be even the slightest bit organized, you might as well not even start the project.

Organization is essential to ensuring that you stay on track and are able to focus on the real priorities.  This becomes even more important once you get multiple projects involved and have to balance your time between each of them.

If you have a proper roadmap to completion, filled with goals and timelines you will have a much greater chance of success.

The best way to accomplish this is to have a plan before you even get started. Know exactly how much time you are going to spend each week, and on what tasks.

Action Step: Pick a system that is going to help you stay organized. At Location Rebel, we use Asana as our main project management tool. It’s been a lifesaver for managing multiple projects at once.

Here are some thoughts on why Asana has been so game changing:

2) Learn the Ability to Say No

This is extremely important and one I’m still working on.

As I mentioned, so often the typical entrepreneur wants to get involved in as many opportunities as possible. However sometimes, no matter how great something seems, you have to be able to say no.

A big part of this is just being over-extended. You might go into something excited and with the best of intentions but with so much other stuff on your plate, it can wind up half finished.

Sometimes, you just have to say no and buckle down on the things already in front of you.

Action Step: Start building your ‘no’ muscle. The more you practice the easier it’s going to be and I bet you’ll start finishing a lot more of your current projects.

3) Decide a Feature Filter

So often we have a tendency to want to throw everything we possibly can into our products, businesses, whatever. This can be one the quickest ways to slow down progress and make yourself extremely frustrated in the process.

When I was writing one of my first products around overcoming uncertainty, I had this huge unrealistic list of things I wanted to include for the initial launch.

So I took a minute and got objective. I didn’t have time to tackle everything I thought I could so I only kept the most important features. That helped me continue to make progress, while not getting frustrated with the sheer amount of features I tried to cram in.

Action Step: With any project you’re taking on, ask yourself what’s the benefit? If you’re creating a product ask will it help you sell more? Does it really make the product that much better?

If you’re selling your freelancing services ask if this is going to lead to more clients or more money.

If the answer is no, scrap it and move on with your life.

4) Get a Life Outside of Work

We’ve all been there at some point, hell I’m probably there right now, where we get so wrapped up in the things that we are working on that we forget to have a life outside of our work.

Essentially what this leads to is lower levels of quality, more stress than necessary, and a propensity to burn out.

Don’t do that to yourself.  At the very least set aside an afternoon or evening each week to step away from business and recharge. I love to play golf or meet friends for a cocktail. You might love to dig into a good book or play Fortnite.

Or you know, you can take a whole week and go someplace exotic. I mean, that’s not a terrible idea, right?

Action Step: Feeling stressed? Check out this post for a practical guide for relieving stress.

5) Make Sure to Follow Through

This where I get into trouble.

I’m great at starting projects.

I tend to get overly excited and jump right in, without thinking too much about how I plan to actually finish a project. I get sidetracked, start something else, lose interest, or any number of other things that keeps me from finishing what I’ve started.

Just in the last few years, I’ve started to take heed to each of the other 6 aspects of project management, and I feel like I’m closer with this whole follow through thing than I’ve been in forever.

It’s exciting. A little bit of momentum can carry you a long way – think about that if you are struggling to get something past the finish line.

Action Step: Stick to your plan and avoid distractions. Focus on how awesome you are going to feel when you’ve finished your project. And if you need more help consider starting a 30 day challenge that’s centered around your project.

6) Set an End Goal

Why are you working so hard on this? What are you hoping to get out of it?

If you don’t have a goal, then it’s really difficult to put your full effort into your projects.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself about your end goals:

Understanding exactly where you hope to be when all is said is done is vital to helping you get there.

Action Step: Get really specific with your end goals. Don’t just say you want to finish a project dig into your real motivations and the results you want to get, these will help you not only stay focused but it’s also a great way to know what you should say no to.

7) Follow Your Passion

You can work on just about anything without the need to be passionate about it, but doing something you love and believe in can certainly add motivation.

I’ve tried to choose projects and businesses that I really have an interest in. The kinds of things that I would do for free if I had to. Let’s face it, I’d happily golf, travel, and try cocktails from around the world even if I wasn’t getting any monetary benefit from it, I just love to do them.

Finding something you are passionate about is a much better long-term business model than grinding away at something you hate.

Action Step: Think about the things you’re truly passionate about. For me, finding a quest has led to some incredible experiences but also some great business ideas too.

Are You Gonna Apply These to Your Next Project?

How many of these things have you considered when it comes to your life and your businesses?

Whether you have a business or not, you’re applying project management skills to many aspects of your personal life too. Viewing yourself as the project manager of your life and continually analyzing it can be a worthwhile way to ensure you stay on track with your goals.

What are some of your best tips for managing projects and getting things done?

Sean Ogle

Sean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
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14 comments on "How to Manage Multiple Projects (And Actually Get Things Done)"

  1. Dan says:

    Nice list, add a little bit of time in there too 🙂 Keeping doing good things and good things happen.

  2. David says:

    Hi Sean!
    Concerning organization: have you ever tried some software solutions like Trac or Basecamp, or todo-lists like Remember the Milk?
    If yes, what was your experience like? Do you use any software tools to stay organized right now?

    1. Sean says:

      @Dan Yes time is definitely a key factor as well. Things dont happen over night (well not usually at least)!

      @David I’ve had limited experience with Basecamp, but aside from that not really. I use a to do list app on my ipod that helps to keep me somewhat organized, but there is definitely room for improvement. I think some of a lot of the software programs are more geared towards organizations. I wrote this mostly thinking about personal project management.

      I’ve also found the most meaningful tool to organization to be a piece of paper and a pen. Most computer programs like that do nothing more than add a layer of complexity thats unnecessary. I’m sure there is something out there that would work well, but I have yet to find it.

  3. Dena says:

    Hey Sean!

    This is a great list. I am just finishing my first year in my current role as supervisor of my team. Becoming supervisor has really shifted my responsibilities from being largely “task-oriented” to being largely “project-managing.” It has been quite an adjustment.

    Your list is a great starting point for beginning project managers. I would also add that the elements above are crucial and additionally, the key to great, consistent success is EXPERIENCE.

    Thanks for another great post and best of luck getting all of your current projects off the ground. I can’t wait to see what’s in store!


  4. David says:

    I’ve tried TRAC for some software projects in teams of 2-4 people.
    Basically, you can create milestones and tickets (=tasks) and assign them to different people.

    Was sometimes useful, but I also had the feeling that it added unnecessary overhead.
    I guess it’s just important to find a place to write down your tasks (and who will do them). You don’t need complex ticketing systems to do it. Right now, I keep my todo lists in Evernote.

  5. Deborah Fike says:

    @David: I’ve used TRAC before too, but I agree it’s a lot of overhead. Basically, I just want a to-do list for myself and to see what others are working on, maybe occasionally send a teammate a task.

    So (speaking of entrepreneurs) that’s why my husband and I have built Fellowstream, a personal and team task management tool. You can use it just for yourself to track tasks because it works like a simple to-do list at one level – very basic. But, if you choose, you can also see other people’s to-do lists, connect tasks through projects, and assign/track each other tasks. The main idea behind Fellowstream is that we manage ourselves (and our task lists) but sometimes it’s critical to see what your teammates are working on in order to get stuff done.

    @Sean: Once again, great article. I think #4 (Having a Life Outside of Work) is extremely undervalued. You have to be able to enjoy life in order to work hard, IMO, and most of us have non-work friends and interests that we need to maintain.

  6. Nate says:

    First, I absolutely did notice the deadline pass for the product. Take your time though, no point in rushing.

    Your thoughts on a feature filter really resonate with me. When I was creating my muse product I had all these ideas for features, like videos, audios, worksheets, flow charts and all sorts of other stuff. I ended up going with a couple of those, but leaving most out. I figure that they can always be added later, the core stuff is important at the moment.

    Great concept to bring up, something I’m sure a lot of others can relate to as well.

  7. Scott says:

    Great post. From what I’ve learned as a management consultanta, I would say that for me two things prevail:

    1) Establish a system and be religious about following it. Any project management plan is infinitely better than no project management plan. So establish a system that works for you, and stick to it.

    2) Get the right tools. My favorite project management tools are MindJet Mindmanager8, and Evernote. I’ve been using these for over a year, and they are great because with Evernote, you always have access to your information. And MindManager is the best visual planning guide you will ever use.

  8. Martin says:

    For me, passion would really be the first factor in achieving your goals. If there is a burning one in you, then I guess everything else will follow. Great post here!!

  9. Go Jonny Go says:

    Systems…definitely systems for organisation, productivity and workflow as well as team building and conflict resolution.

    I have been a project manager for a Swiss Engineering company called Sulzer who operate in oil and gas so plenty of money and plenty of stress being thrown about the place.

    Systems are critical, you will not survive without them.

    Great post.

  10. Heath says:

    Hi Sean,

    Great post – I would add also that one of the most vital parts of project management, as in life, is being very clear on the objectives, and making sure that everyone involved in the project is also bought into these objectives – there are times where different members of the project have different ideas for what the point of the project is, which naturally is not great.

    Also, as David mentioned above, Remember the milk is a great free tool (which also has mobile apps) that I have personally found quite good to keep track of tasks.


  11. Ah the follow through…that’s me. I jump in with both feet giving things 100% (my Type A personality at it’s best) not really sure where it is going to take me. For me the ‘start-up’ is where I get my greatest pleasure. Now I have to learn not to get bored with the day to day mundane operations.

    Great post full of timely tips. Thanks!

  12. Akmal says:

    its really a nice list and helpful for every one and very clear to understand in a quick review.

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