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The Adventures of Dan the Project Manager Man - How Much is Too Much?

Are you working on tasks efficiently as possible? How much is too much?

On Monday, I had been working away at several new projects that had come my way.  I had had several meetings on my calendar.

Tuesday was more of the same.  Existing projects needed to be updated.  Administrative work needed my attention.  Carol, my manager, invited me into her office and asked me to consider documenting a new process for posting our timesheets.

By Wednesday, it had been a long week that was about to get longer.  I had already worked 2 nine and a half hour days, taking only 15 minute lunch breaks.  The day was interrupted by tasks outside my normal responsibilities that needed some attention: research for an impatient client, lending a listening ear to another project manager’s team issues, and catching up with a colleague who experienced a family loss.

By Thursday there was as much work on my plate as there was on Monday – just different tasks.  I felt like I couldn’t catch up.

Friday found me feeling not well, tired, and behind on the week’s tasks.  I began planning for the next week and working on timesheet documentation.  I worked until six that evening.

In the end, I needed to know the right time to say “No” to new projects.  So, I took my current list of projects, reviewed my last 4 weekly timesheets, and determined that I was averaging one and half hours per project each week.  With over 40 projects I found out why I wasn’t able to keep up.

In a fast-moving business environment workload and responsibilities grow unwieldy, quickly and unexpectedly.  We don’t usually plan to be overwhelmed.  Sometimes it just happens.  Managing ourselves and our time becomes the bigger project.   When we know our actual capacity, then we can realistically say no or yes when a new project comes our way.

I found another tool for my Dan the Project Manager Man tool belt.  Either I effectively manage my capacity for work, or I can expect to be overwhelmed.

Are you able to determine your working capacity?  Are you able to say no when you want to say yes? 

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Comment by William Pirkey on October 28, 2011 at 1:18pm
I feel your pain...I'm at 62 active projects at the moment. 3 are rather "big", and 1 is hig-vis. Which one do you think is getting the most attention?

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