Capacity Planning



A little intro - real questions comes in the next paragraph: a few years ago you could've called me the role model of personal organization in my company. I wasn't perfect, but it worked well. There were project plans created by project managers, I put my tasks into my task manager and saw when it got too much. But then with new responsibilities, kids, declining quality of project managers (at least it feels so) I'm working with and a motivational low, I feel like my productivity system doesn't work for me anymore and that I'm always behind. In fact, I am always behind because I have too much on my plate and no good overview about what I have to do. That's why I feel like I have to do my capacity planning myself.

So (small) GTD projects, N/A etc. works fine for getting stuff done. But how do you take care that you don't put too much stuff on your plate in the first place. Do you use some sophisticated software to match your available time and your estimated project effort in the next year? Is it enough to look at your plain project list and you know when it gets too much? Or do you not care at all and if it gets too much renegotiate your commitments?

I was thinking about making an Excel file with my (company) projects which normally run for a year or more, and plan each month. But it's some effort, and I'm not sure if it's an efficient way.

Thanks for your thoughts and ideas!


I have found this too every once in awhile in my role. I am the President and COO of my company but it is a small-medium size family business with 40 employees. So basically I am involved in everything and oversee everything in my daily responsibilities. Once we are cranking it is REALLY hard to prioritize time for me as everyone is pulling for my time. And I cannot emphasize enough how much context switching I have to do in terms of my role and responsibilities.

I have found a few strategies help me that I deploy on and off and sometimes together.

  • First one and most importantly is I booked some "me time" on my calendar. I am an early riser and do best on routines so I rely on my morning startup routine. But I have booked from 9-10:30 as focus time for my own work. I find the morning so vital (again for me) for a few different reasons:
    • First because of my role my afternoons OFTEN get thrown off the rails by whatever goes wrong for others during the day. If things roll up to me for assistance or FYI they do not do it first thing in the morning, it is later in the day typically.
    • Building on the first one by focusing in and doing work in the morning I set my own personal expectation that for the rest of the day it is meetings and dealing with any emergency that arises. I am "satisfied" in my day because I checked some things off in the morning and moved some things forward.
    • The hardest part of this is truly treating this time like client time. Sometimes I am bad and give up my calendar. When I do I regret it. Holding this time as my time is critical.
  • Second, I understand the system and process. Every Sunday night I review my upcoming week. If my calendar is jammed I try to get out of any lower priority meetings but I also set the internal expectation that this is not going to be a productive week. As long as nothing is critical that is okay and I accept it. Because I trust my system I know everything will be there for next week when I can tackle it more. Or if I need to bend into the evening or weekend I know upfront vs after the fact
  • I utilize my someday list to move less important projects there. Again just to come to the realization that I cannot tackle everything and that is okay.
  • I have tried day theming on and off. So for example everyday I might start with client focused activities, on Tuesday I tackle business finance activities, Thursday HR, Friday IT. I find by doing this my brain can stay in one focus (it matches my area of focuses) and I do a lot better knocking out my projects. Especially since these areas of focus often overlap with similar tools (accounting software ,etc.)
  • I also use flags so that I can "flag" items that are important to get accomplished. I do that every afternoon as part of my workday shutdown routine so I preset what is important to me tomorrow.
  • The last one is I try to use a tool that DOES NOT show me how many items I have on my list to do :). As that does overwhelm me. I just stay true to my contexts and time allotment to get done what I get done.

Hope that helped a bit! Maybe some ideas came out of it!