Managing Multiple Projects, Part 2: Self-Organization and Discipline

By: Kim Perz and Shelly Wright

In our last article we talked about the importance of Master Planning in Managing Multiple Projects.

Today we explore Part 2:  Self-Organization and Discipline.  As a project manager, your self-organization skills will set the tone for how organized and focused your projects are. From the last blog, we know that the key to achieving a goal is solid planning. Here is where discipline comes in:  during the execution of that plan.

So how are you able to execute your project plan and to-do list?  Let’s look at some friendly tools and techniques to bring order and structure to your world of multiple projects. The areas we will unpack today are:

  1. Keeping documentation excluding e-mail organized and accessible
  2. Keeping e-mail organized
  3. Taking meeting notes
  4. Allocating your time for projects
  5. Prioritizing projects


Keeping Documentation Organized and Accessible

Keep project documents organized using a logical file/folder system. Move desktop-saved documents to their long term project document repository immediately after you are done with the draft. Leverage document management tools such as Dropbox, SharePoint, or shared file server. Develop a standard naming convention for project documents that start with the project short name at the front of the document filename.

The example shows three major project folders – Ice Cream project, PM Class, and Point of Sales System – each given a shortened name.  Each major project folder then contains the same subfolders.

graphic 3 MMP pt2

graphic 2 MMP pt2

Keeping Email Communications Organized

Use a project short name as a prefix in the Subject line of all emails you send related to that project. A quick glance through your inbox will tell you the content of each e-mail. Is it related to the Ice Cream project or the Point of Sales System project? Communicate this approach with everyone on the project and have everyone agree to use the project short name.  This will allow you to filter e-mails by project just by reading the subject line.

Example: PS (short for the Point of Sales System project) e-mail Subject:

graphic MMP pt2

Taking Meeting Notes

Develop a meeting note template and take electronic meeting notes during meetings or calls.  Send them out immediately afterwards. Be prepared with the template at the start of each meeting and fill it in as the meeting progresses.  Make sure to reserve  the last ten minutes of the meeting to review the main action items of the meeting and the key decisions made. At the end of the meeting send the notes out to the attendees of the meeting. For highly charged political meetings, select a project team member who will be the scribe for the meeting. Rotate the responsibility so no one feels they are being “demoted” to administrative activities.

Allocating Your Time for Projects

Work on projects in specific blocks of time each day.   Block time off on your calendar to enable you to devote 60- or 90-minute blocks to working on each specific project.  Assigning time limits helps you give your undivided energy to that deserving project.  Also schedule quality breaks – get up and walk around the block or take a lunch away from your desk.

Prioritizing Projects

  1. Know what projects are most important to the company to ensure they are getting ample time and focus
  2. Know project deadlines and give a higher priority and more time to those with upcoming (earlier) deadlines

Wrapping It Up

Today we talked about being organized.  But staying organized really has a lot to do with the planning techniques we talked about in Part 1.  Realistically, there is no “silver bullet” for ensuring success when managing multiple projects.  However, using the right approach tailored to you and your needs will get you there. In the last two articles we talked about the following approaches to help you:

  1. Developing a master project plan
  2. Developing a master to-do list
  3. Developing a master project quick reference guide
  4. Keeping documentation organized and accessible
  5. Keeping e-mail organized
  6. Taking meeting notes
  7. Allocating your time for projects
  8. Prioritizing projects

You can see that with some realistic and thoughtful planning and discipline in your execution and time management, you can be the master of your projects, rather than their servant.  Now, go tackle those projects!

Do Your Company’s Program and Project Management Practices Need a Tune-up?

Call us at Wright 1 Consulting. We can simplify the art of project management to tangible steps you can take to improve your overall corporate practices. When results matter… Wright1 is there!


Examples from Wright, S. (2012). Portfolio Management Templates. Personal Collection of S. Wright, Wright1 Consulting, Manhattan Beach, CA.

Golash-Boza, T. (2011, June). How to Manage Multiple Projects. [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Project Management Institute (2008). The Standard for Program Management – Second Edition. Project Management Institute Inc. ISBN: 1933890524

Project Management Institute (2013). A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge: PMBOK Guide® – Fifth Edition. Project Management Institute Inc. ISBN: 9781935589679

Robins, S. (2012, April 24). How to Manage Multiple Projects. [Web log post].  Retrieved from



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