How many projects do you work on at once?

How many projects do you typically work on at the same time? This includes work and personal projects. I was wondering because throughout my experience I have found that this has varied to several to just one at a time during different levels of expertise.

I used to work on two projects at a time. I felt like this kept me from staring at the screen and doing nothing when I hit blocks in one project. Now I am shifting all my focus on Elixir and have been building my first Phoenix app.


1 Elixir side job, 2-4 Elixir hobby projects, 1-2 language learning excursions, 1 Erlang work project. That about sums up how the situation usually looks, but it obviously varies.


3, one phoenix, one php, one android


I like to focus on one project at a time (and if possible one language at a time!) - however sometimes I need to update or maintain existing ones.


Way too many! I generally tend to get excited about something new before I’m done with the previous project, so things will often pile up in a way that I’m juggling a bunch of half-finished projects on my table.

Currently I have a Nerves-project on Raspberry Pi, a Discord/Overwatch bot, a Slack/Strava bot, a game with a Phoenix/Vue UI, a Phoenix-based website management tool, and a bunch of other things in the works. Sigh. One day… :slight_smile:


My goal is work mainly on 4 elixir side projects for 2018. Luckily in 2017 i got 3 of them to a consumable state so it’s mainly just features and improvements. But between mix/hex and a functional language i have no trouble keeping up with 4 and life… so far

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A ton! Even at work I get a ton… ^.^;

I try to limit my projects to 1 at work and 1 at home, but usually end up with at least 2 at work (current work, and exploring future options) and 3 at home (one IoT, one app, and one web).

2 Phoenix web apps at work. A few open source Elixir libraries I’m interested in. And Java/Python code at work when I must.

@JoeZMar: Depends on job + 3 libraries + 1 personal home project + collect ideas about 100+ more libraries/projects. :smiley:

To be honest for now I need to focus on job (collect moneys for some important things) and in future I will focus more on non-related to job projects.

btw. Currently I don’t have a job and I’m looking for next one. :slight_smile:

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Rather than focus on # of projects, I focus on # of technologies plus process automation plus teammates. I try to limit to boring/proven technologies. I try to put hands-on effort into the same layer of the stack: devops/backend/api. The API is the super productivity multiplier - god bless REST and GraphQL. Amazing what people will do when you publish a good self-documenting interface. Elixir is an interesting mix of new (attracting great people who like the shiny) and proven/boring (attracting a different type of great person). Projects and Teammates come and go, but process automation lives forever.

Whenever I see statements like that I’m reminded of: Human Task Switches Considered Harmful.

Now he’s talking about task switches during each day - but I also think this applies to projects in general. Any one project likely has a significant (if not large) context to switch into - but there is also the issue that a “switched-out” context fades over time, i.e. while it’s relatively easy to pick up work on something you “switched-out” last thing yesterday, the time and effort required to switch back in seems significantly higher if a week or a month has gone by.

The more projects you take on, the longer the average “switched out” time interval will be (unless you are grinding every day to dust in context switches already) so the more time is wasted getting “back up to speed” (or preparing to be able to get “back up to speed” later, e.g. “memos to self” that only really make sense at that particular stage of work).

Seems one project would be the most efficient solution. I guess a second, low priority project with a light context would be permissible for those times where it isn’t possible to make progress on the first - though those times should be few and far between if one resolves to never be blocked.

A single person working on multiple high priority tasks is an oxymoron. High priority usually implies high urgency - working on one task comes at the cost of delaying completion of the other tasks (which implies it’s more important); working on them in rotation delays completion of all tasks. How can “high priority” tasks tolerate the inherent delay of multitasking?

I love it when I have one project that I can really drill down into and focus. It’s pure joy when I work on something so intensely that I forget about time and it feels like the whole world disappears in the meantime. The reality is that I just can’t get that type of focus for most of my projects. Every once in a while I’ll get inspired enough to have a burst like that, but the last peak I remember was a few years ago and that wasn’t for something I was tasked to do at work.

Having multiple projects (across several different languages to keep it more interesting) for me is a solution to the problem of not even being able to summon the focus/motivation I need to do only one of them.

I agree that it’s something close to bad management to put workers on several projects at once, though. Luckily my work situation is not like that.

Oh they entirely are, but that ‘reset’ can also help clear the mind to solve problems easier, which I find a large help when going through multi-page SQL… >.<

Thankfully only one thing is really high priority (it’s what’s been keeping me the most busy).

It’s not helped by the fact that I’m the only programmer at this college, so… ^.^;

Have you always focused on number of technologies (after your first) rather than projects or was there a transition after a certain level of experience? I find that I have fluctuated between the two “strategies”. I actually found Elixir because I was trying to get away from focusing on several technologies and dig into one. I was working for a Rails startup when Phoenix 1.2 was released and noticed José Valim (Worked on simple_form and devise, some of my most used gems and clearly someone heavily involved in the Ruby/Rails community) was the creator. Couple months later I left my job and haven’t looked back. I haven’t worked on a Rails app since.

Only after a lot of trial and error. :slight_smile:

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