If you are a fan of the David Allen system "Getting Things Done" then you may like this system for managing a project portfolio. My definition of a project is any piece of work, area of responsibility or relationship that requires multiple actions.
1. Keep a minimum of 20% of time free for single tasks, correspondence, the unexpected and minor projects
This is vital to deal with correspondence, single action items, modest (usually maintenance) projects and unexpected activity requiring urgent attention.
2. Use 80% to deliver major projects.
A major project may be time-limited or recurrent, it may be an organisational unit or division for which you have responsibility, or it may be a working relationship with a colleague. If you accept that each major project needs at least 5% of your time, then the maximum number of projects is 16. If you have more than 16 projects / reports etc...then it may explain why you are working all the time!
3. Make sure your meeting schedule is helping you deliver your project priorities.
Make sure your meeting schedule is project focused. Your time is valuable so if it does not match up against your critical projects then the schedule is not fitting the priorities. In order to track this make sure that every appointment is tagged with a project label.
In summary - these simply guidelines help:
(a) Identify times when you are over-capacity - with all the implications on you and those around you.
(b) Prioritise projects - so you know which need the most attention right now
(c) Consider the feasibility of taking on a new project - if you are at capacity you can't take on a new project without ditching an existing project
(d) Reinforce the importance of project review. Its obviously vital to keep on track of your projects to maintain momentum - but also so you can determine when you can exit and take on something new!
(e) Focus on the projects that really matter to you.
If there is general interest in this approach I'll post something on implementation.