Why Work Projects are Like Rolls of Toilet Paper

project managementIf you have more than a handful, perhaps even dozens of projects you want to be working on right now, you’re in good company.

Problem is, having all those projects on the agenda simultaneously erodes focus, increases stress and reduces productivity. It’s okay to have many projects you want to accomplish, but not okay to be actively working on a dozen at a time.

Better to choose five or six that are the highest priority and break those down into do-able tasks.  The other projects don’t have to be abandoned, but can be kept in a safe place where you can be reminded of them when you get the current project far enough along or even completed.

When you dilute your focus on too many projects it’s difficult to stick with any one of them long enough to make significant progress.  The result is usually paralysis from being overwhelmed.

Projects are like rolls of toilet paper. You really only need one at any given moment (remember, no multitasking allowed). And just a few extra rolls nearby.  When you do find that you’re ready for more, it’s not all that difficult to replenish your stock.


  1. Russ Henneberry on November 22, 2011 at 12:44 pm

    Great post. You are right, there’s no need to have 20 rolls of toilet paper on hand at all times.

    Thanks for writing this Mary!

  2. Mary Kutheis (kooth-ice) on November 22, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    Thanks, Russ. A client sent me a New York Times article about hoarding and I was….inspired!