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Juggling between projects. How do you manage it?

sathish profile image Sathish ・1 min read

Juggling between different projects keeps the mind heavily occupied and how do you people manage both time and the projects?

It would be nice if you state about the number of projects you are working on simultaneously.

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I have a full time job, a 9 months old boy and I've started my PhD couple of months ago. The full time jobs implies two technical projects and a team to manage. Overall there is a lot to do. I sometimes find myself hard to keep up with my inbox, rss feed and pocket list.

During the full time job I don't have much time for extended breaks. Just a short walk for a glass of water or a phone call. There are days I don't have time to get lunch so all I'm relying is the breakfast and the dinner with family. Switching between the two technicals project is not a difficult thing for me. They are related, I'm mostly comfortable with the stack, the architecture and the code. The actual work is more of helping team members on them and less to code although occasionally I get to code or design something or do some dev-ops. What I find difficult, though, is the switch between technical tasks and people tasks. 1:1s, performance reviews, other things, are a pain when they interfere with technical ones. Or viceversa. I've tried to arrange my calendar and schedules to ease this burden but I'm not there yet. And besides, there are always unexpected and unavoidable things which just pops up. A thing which helps me a lot is to be clear on priorities. Especially when other people depends on me. Tools I'm not using much of them. Outlook is enough. The inbox list is a to-do list for me and each mail is marked either as to-follow-up or done. All of them are automatically sent to the to-do pane of outlook where more items can be added, not only emails. I'm consulting this list multiple times per day to make sure the priorities are OK. I've tried trello. It's a wonderful tool but my data is in outlook and I haven't yet figured out a way of interaction between them. I'm not staying at work more than 8 hours.

Now go to family. That is saint time. Spending time with them is always the top thing when I get home and I rarely respond to email or do some PhD thing.

The PhD has more difficult time. I get to work in the evenings, after the little one sleeps or in the weekend mornings. What helps me to have energy for it is the passion of my subject, the curiosity and the ambition to have it done. The difficult thing comes at switching between the full time technical projects and this one. That's not easy. There are two completely different worlds: the scope, the stack and the approach. The full time project is a corporate one with a clear path, all details set, essentially it is development. Whereas the PhD is with a broader scope, many unknowns, many paths and options, essentially it is research. There are times when I'm very engaged on a particular thing and I often find myself thinking about my PhD while I'm at job or viceversa, thinking about my job when I'm at home, in the evenings. Commute is sometimes helpful. I can put a podcast with an appropriate subject. Going to work in the morning? I pick something related. Technical or leadership. Going back to home? I pick something related to my PhD. Not all the times I can get this to work. Either I'm too tired in the morning because I worked too late or if I have a day full of interaction with people because of various meetings, I just want some quiet time, maybe along with some chill music, while driving home. Or I just let my mind to wander or dream. That is extremely useful I'm recharging my brain batteries.

This is, in a nutshell, my switching experience. I realise it's more than you asked but here it goes... Thanks for asking, it was good to write about this.

 

Awesome!!