Too Many Irons in the Fire? Tips for Coping with Project Overload

Published Thursday, December 16, 2010 5:20 PM

It happens to all of us. We all have days (sometimes weeks) when there is just more work to be done than hours to do it. If you're in the midst of project overload, we've assembled some tips for tackling that mound of work head on rather than getting buried by it.

Time to Get Going

Triage (aka Prioritize): What projects must get done? Which can be put off for a later date?

Organize: Break projects down into discrete elements and asses how long each component will realistically take.

Work Backwards:  Identify the due date, get it on your calendar and begin charting out a workflow, working backwards from when the project must be complete. Calculate how long each discrete task will take and subtract that time from the due date. Add in wiggle room for the inevitable delays.

Identify Resources: Do you need IT help with a power point? Does your project need major copying and collating? You don't want to wait until the last minute to figure out that your IT team is booked elsewhere or that the company's photo-copying department has several other projects ahead of you in the queue.

Many Hands Make Light Work: If you are swamped, see if colleagues can help pitch in or perhaps work can be outsourced to freelancers. If you are a solo practitioner juggling multiple projects, determine if your clients have flexibility with their deadlines.

Learn to Say No: In a tough economy, it's hard to say no to work. But too much of a good thing is still too much, so learn how to say no to stave off burnout. If you're worried about losing clients or upsetting your boss, be clear that you want to give 100 percent to a project or a job and are unwilling to commit unless you can deliver. Let them know that when your workload frees up, you'll be happy to take on the additional assignments. Odds are your honesty will be appreciated.

How do you prevent project overload? Have any tips for digging out when projects overwhelm? Share your thoughts here and on the Beyond Folders Community's Facebook and Twitter pages.

by Bradley Eggers


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# Eloise said on Tuesday, January 10, 2012 2:22 AM

You've got it in one. Couldn't have put it bteetr.

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Beyond FoldersTM is written by a team of Pendaflex associates passionate about time management, communications, productivity and workplace organization.  Believing in  "continuous improvement" on both a personal and professional level, they share their unique perspectives on subjects of common interest to our readers.

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