As a PM there are many occasions where we are tasked with delivering multiple projects. My question is when (or how) do you realise you are overloaded and have taken on too many concurrent projects?

3 Answers 3


Usually I can remember all important things for my work. I personally realise overload, if I start to forget important things. That is usually the sign, that I have to overlook too much.

Another measure is my email-inbox. Normally I keep only mails in the inbox, that I have to react to in some form. Usually my inbox is around 5-10 E-Mails this way, things I have to adress later. If my inbox grows much larger, I know that I got too much input too handle.

  • It's good that you're trying to put actual measures on something like this.
    – Michael
    Commented Jul 13, 2012 at 13:21

First, count the number of projects you are running.

If the number is > 1, then you have taken on too much. If you are doing true large scale project management: initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing -- and if you are doing them effectively, you can only focus on 1 at a time. If you are a small organization or team where less rigid pm methodologies work, you might be able to run 2 projects at a time.

Multitasking is bad:

  • See #10 in this link
  • Harvard Business Review study
  • More intersting tidbits here

My humble opinion!

  • Excellent point -- managing more than one project is a bad sign of overload.
    – ashes999
    Commented Feb 8, 2011 at 16:24
  • Too vague to be truly useful. Projects come in all forms, shapes and sizes; and if you're are overloaded depends on several factors like "how much can you personally handle?", "what's your involvement?" and "how much hours do you put in at work?".
    – Jakob Buis
    Commented Feb 9, 2011 at 9:56
  • @Jakob I agree! All projects are different. That's why I classify large scale projects as those that follow PMI prescribed phases: initiating, planning, etc. But I'm not totally drinking the PMI Kool-aid, hence my comment about less rigid pm methodologies. "How much can you personally handle?"...you're right, varies depending on the person. "What's your involvement?"...orig question says you're the PM. "How much hours do you put in?"...I like what Jason Fried says about workaholism: unecessary, creates more problems, burnout, inefficient. IMHO, expecting long hours is bad management.
    – CraigV
    Commented Feb 9, 2011 at 14:20

When you feel you're loosing control and playing catch-up rather than pro-actively getting information and giving direction on projects.

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