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Working Work planning: is this normal?

On average, how many projects or initiatives would you say you are involved in at any given time?

  • 1-2

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • 3-5

    Votes: 2 16.7%
  • 6-10

    Votes: 6 50.0%
  • 10+

    Votes: 4 33.3%

  • Total voters
    12

glutton

Cyburbian
Messages
481
Points
12
Background:

I work in local government for a county transit agency as a junior level planner, and have noticed that I'm often juggling 10 projects, tasks, or initiatives at a time and feeling very overwhelmed and stretched thin in terms of managing them.

I would much rather focus more hour on fewer projects rather than spend fewer hours (each) across many projects and initiatives.

My husband, who is an engineer and does not work in planning or transportation related, said this is abnormal and that "dipping your hands in more than 3-4 projects at any given time makes it impossible to focus on any of them adequately", which made sense to me. I'm starting to wonder if it's just the nature of government and/or large agencies, or if it's specifically the culture of my team and workgroup to very loosey goosey on work planning. So I'd like to take a poll:

On average, how many projects or initiatives would you say you are involved in at any given time? Count all of them, even the tiny ones you only think about once or twice a month.

Thank you, looking forward to sparking some discussion on here about the culture of work planning!
 
Last edited:

Clange000

Member
Messages
9
Points
0
Planning seems to be a bit of an oddity when it comes to this but I suppose it depends what type of planning work you are in. I know working for my current employer I am regularly working on 10 plus projects at any given time (some might be simple BLA's all the way to PRD's or Code Text Amendments) plus doing the addressing for the city and business licenses. So it's virtually non-stop and we are stretched really thin so I can attest to not feeling like I am devoting my best efforts to every project.

I know the engineers upstairs are often working on only 2-3 different projects at a time because they see those projects from design to construction with bidding, acquisition and inspections included in that timeframe. We as planners with the city are really helping facilitate the projects through the development process but aren't really designing anything or in charge of managing the construction phase of the developments therefore, we have "more time" to focus on more volume of projects.
 

nrschmid

Cyburbian
Messages
2,872
Points
21
There isn't a normal in the number of projects. It's the success rate of executing tasks according to a project scope in a 40-hour week.

As a Project Management Professional (PMP) who's also a planner, we really need to define what is a planning....project. Are we saying a single development permit, which can span weeks? A comprehensive plan update, which can span months? A site plan, which can span hours? I do physical land planning and I have 30 (maybe more) project sites that are active, and 4 or 5 can come up in a given week.

A good efficiency metric is what can you accomplish (and program) successfully in a 40 hour work week. I'm leaving out organizational policies, expectations, personalities, and politics. Take a project and break down into executable tasks. Do not assume that others will work more than 40 hours.
 

DVD

Cyburbian
Messages
15,021
Points
52
I go through a bunch of projects daily. I think there are 4 or 5 that need to be done today. Since I'm only one part of the big picture I just count getting things done and don't worry as much on the final result.
 

RandomPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
1,762
Points
26
I voted 6-10 in my current position but I will say that, in my last role as a Municipal Planning Director, I would estimate that figure to realistically be 25-30. We are in a field that is just always involved and helps to organize that big picture.
 

HomerJ

Cyburbian
Messages
1,102
Points
17
I put 10+, however to a previous post I would say I am not moving on all projects at the same time in any given week. Some projects are going to be contained within 1 or 2 weeks time, others will stretch over several months. Many also simply stall out after reaching a decision point that is beyond your control (that's probably moreso in the public sector).

Particularly in public sector planning, the number of projects can get out of control very quickly if a team doesn't already have a clear work plan and understanding of the trade-offs they are assuming when taking on new assignments (e.g. can you attend this meeting for me without the full context of why you are there, and then answer the inevitable questions that will come up about committing us to something long-term and time consuming?)
 

MacheteJames

Cyburbian
Messages
979
Points
22
From a public sector, current planning perspective, yeah, it's a problem with this field that I've seen for years, spanning multiple positions in multiple jurisdictions. It kills any form of deep thinking and puts staff in reactive mode for huge expanses of time.

To answer the question - currently 10-15 individual projects per planner, with 50-60 active projects under review at any one time for the land use review wing of the department.

When I was in consulting, we'd consider you full up if you had 4-6 projects that you were billing on regularly, but there, we were seeing projects through from early design-development through construction docs, so different workflow than reviewing filed applications at a public sector office.
 

MacheteJames

Cyburbian
Messages
979
Points
22
There isn't a normal in the number of projects. It's the success rate of executing tasks according to a project scope in a 40-hour week.

As a Project Management Professional (PMP) who's also a planner, we really need to define what is a planning....project. Are we saying a single development permit, which can span weeks? A comprehensive plan update, which can span months? A site plan, which can span hours? I do physical land planning and I have 30 (maybe more) project sites that are active, and 4 or 5 can come up in a given week.

A good efficiency metric is what can you accomplish (and program) successfully in a 40 hour work week. I'm leaving out organizational policies, expectations, personalities, and politics. Take a project and break down into executable tasks. Do not assume that others will work more than 40 hours.
Now, that's 40 billed hours, right? Because when I was in consulting, I had to work significantly more than 40 hours a week to be able to actually bill 40 hours.
 

nrschmid

Cyburbian
Messages
2,872
Points
21
Now, that's 40 billed hours, right? Because when I was in consulting, I had to work significantly more than 40 hours a week to be able to actually bill 40 hours.

40 billable hours is a baseline. It puts all different types of jobs, from interns to entry level to mid level to director on the same playing field, for project budgeting and scheduling purposes, all else being equal. Most people generally work more than 40, but that is driven by an organizational culture, and it's an externality.
 

glutton

Cyburbian
Messages
481
Points
12
Thank you all! Hearing everyone's responses was super insightful. I think perhaps then, it's just the culture and nature of public sector work more than anything else?
 
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