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I am in a service based IT company in India. I have been working on a government project for seven months (say Project 1) . I did almost 50% of the content here, and also, I have to deal with the client and add/edit contents as per its requirement.

Now, I have been assigned another project (say Project 2) where I have to do the dashboard and reports part (weekly, monthly, and yearly). Both projects are urgently required.

The problem arises, when client from Project 1 calls me to make changes, while I am doing project 2. It all gets messed up. I don’t know how to handle it any more. Moreover, I am to work on both these projects without any additional pay.

Although it has been a few days, I am out of ideas. Is this thing normal? How do I manage it?

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Kilisi
    Jul 22 at 21:28
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    It's extremely common in software development agencies. If you want a single long-term project, consider product-based companies rather than service-based.
    – CodePanda
    Jul 23 at 14:46
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It is normal to be on multiple projects for many companies. Your problem is your personal organisation of your work. You need to keep the projects separated.

I am to work on both these projects without any additional pay.

So long as you are working the same hours, this is totally normal unless your contract stipulates otherwise.

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    And it is perfectly normal to suffer from a loss of productivity when you need to "context switch" between projects (or even between different parts of a single project if it's large enough). You will gradually get better at this, but until you are, try to work on each project in time blocks as large as possible. Jul 20 at 17:12
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    Also, don't be surprised if your supervisor tells you they are both your TOP priority.
    – Arluin
    Jul 20 at 20:43
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    @Arluin Also, don't be surprised when projects 3,4,5,6,... are added as you master your time management. The reward for good work is more work - it's also invaluable experience you can take with you to do bigger and better things when you're comfortable doing so.
    – TCooper
    Jul 20 at 20:59
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    Since no-one's posted it yet, here is the best illustration I've seen of the pain of being forced to context-switch involuntarily.
    – gidds
    Jul 20 at 21:25
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    @Kilisi Not all developers seem to suffer from it, either — in many places I've worked, they like being in big, open-plan offices where they hear everything going on and interrupt each other frequently.  But I hate being interrupted; it's like a jet aircraft taxiing for hours because it never gets the chance to accelerate long enough to take off. One of the things I love about working from home is the chance to concentrate for as long as I need!
    – gidds
    Jul 20 at 21:37
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It is very common to have two or more projects on the go at the same time. You need to learn how to manage it.

Talk to your manager about how much time you should be devoting to each project.

Once you know how much time to spend on each, decide how you are going to divide up your time across the day. For example, you might decide to spend a morning on one project and the afternoon on the other. That way you are not constantly flitting back and forth between the two.

If you get a phone call on one project while working on the other, note down what needs to be done, and go back to what you were working on.

Don't get the customers involved in your scheduling. It's not their problem. They are paying for a service and don't want to be told you are too busy working on something else. In the long term, it's your employer's job to make sure enough people are scheduled to work on each contract.

And no, you are not going to get paid more for working on two projects.

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    +1 especially for "Talk to your manager about how much time you should be devoting to each project." That is a managerial decision having to do with project priorities, urgency, etc.
    – Basya
    Jul 20 at 12:30
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    +1 The OP needs to avoid making promises they can't keep to their manager. If a new requirement is added, suggest what else in the schedule should slip to accommodated it. If your manager asks if you can add a new task to project 1 without slipping something in project 2, say "no". Accurately let your manager what work you are willing and able to accomplish and let them decide the priorities. Jul 20 at 17:13
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    Don't ask how much time. Ask "What percentage of my work time?" -- this will make it easier to argue that 100% is the maximum available. Jul 20 at 19:09
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    "Don't get the customers involved in your scheduling. It's not their problem." This depends on that sort of IT work you're doing. If a system goes down and every hour before it's fixed costs them a million dollars...
    – nick012000
    Jul 21 at 9:45
  • @nick012000 The system going down is the customer's problem, scheduling/solving it is not. Nor – for that scale of incident – is it the OP's problem. They should escalate to their manager to see if the exusting balance between projects should change.
    – TripeHound
    Jul 21 at 14:54
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It's absolutely normal.. but how you manage it depends on the various client's relations with your company. You should absolutely tell your manager (if they don't already know) that the client is requesting changes and how long each of those changes are taking. Your company can then either push back on the client or bill them appropriately.

Your management will probably understand that things are going to take longer if you're juggling multiple clients and switching between projects... but that may not change anything if there are contracts in place with strict deadlines.

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Completely normal.

the workload of a singly IT project fluctuates, so you will usually get assigned several with staggered starts and deadlines, to prevent you getting in a lull with nothing to do (which is expensive for the company and boring for the employee). Usually, you work on a single project on a single day, but sometimes things happen that require you to switch.

This is why you keep timesheets to display how much time you spend on each of your projects, to share the costs of your time honestly instead of evenly. As long as this doesn't let you go over your weekly hours, there should be no issue. If you feel like you can't separate them, you can still take this up with your employer though

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    Not everyone uses a timesheet to track their project time. Many companies use task tracking software. Not only does this show what the employee has been working on, but it allows employees to see what's coming up and to keep track of what types of tasks are common, among other things. Jul 20 at 17:22
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It's normal to have more than one project.

Frequently (once a week or more often), confirm your understanding of task / project priorities with your manager. I highly recommend get this in writing, like in an email:

Mr. Manager,
Here is my understanding of my present projects, in priority order:
{task list}

Is this still valid?

This will allow your manager to change your tasks as well as remind them of the priorities. If there are any disagreements later, you can show your manager these emails. :-)

If your manager deals with percentage of your time (e.g. 80% on Project 1), add that to the email as well. Don't accept any percentages that add up beyond 100%. Remember to schedule in administrative or non-working time (breaks, bathroom runs, sick time, etc).

Also CC: to any project managers that you are working with.

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    Thanks for the typo notification. Made changes. Jul 22 at 0:47
  • Manager does not do that. I tried to do a similar thing, but I got a call response saying that "Please give extra efforts for both the projects". But, the manager does not handle the first client. If a company does not have resources to handle more projects, they should not consider taking them.
    – Skumar
    Jul 22 at 2:29
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    You should ask anyway, and develop a paper trail (proof / evidence). Again, if your managers demand to much of you, you have documented proof. Train your managers. Jul 22 at 14:37
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    @Skumar - bad managers will often set impossible goals and make it seem like your problem. Remember that if these things were really important, they would be willing to pay overtime or recruit more staff. Just give them your best estimate, ask for priorities and give plenty of warning if you can't meet a deadline. Jul 23 at 17:15

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