Task batching (also known as batching, grouping, time blocking, batch processing) will change the way you get things done and make you crazy productive. Let’s batch together.
What is task batching?
A time management system that maximizes concentration, productivity, creativity, and mental focus while minimizing distraction and stress. When you task batch, you are grouping a long list of similar jobs together. (is there a statistic you could insert here? Studies show that when you switch from task to task, you slow down productivity by ____%.) In contrast, batching cuts down on the time it takes for your brain to switch and refocus. There are a lot of variations of batching but the Pomodoro Technique is my preferred approach. With task batching you stay focused on a certain task and can achieve flow: a mental state where we get “in the zone.” In her book, Year of Yes (I highly recommend), Shonda Rhimes refers to this as “the hum” the intangible thing that drives work when it gets good.
Multitasking Kills Productivity
“Multitasking” is a buzz word (and sometimes seen as a badge of honor). I’ll admit that I try to do a million things at once because my mind moves so fast. I think this is further fueled by technology, society’s pressure to be all things to everyone, and as a working mom of two boys, just trying to get through the day. Before I started task batching, I’d switch from task to task in an exhausting, never ending loop, stopping short of making it to the end of my daily list. For me, distractions are everywhere. Checking emails, meetings, texts, calls, errands, unplanned needs of my kids… life. These distractions often take priority over what really need to get done. From here there is a direct path to burnout.
What Can You Batch?
Anything! (My personal life gets batched too! Errands, kid items, household management…) Let’s dive into some ways to batch your business.
- Blog posts and podcast creation
- Testimonial process
- Answering emails
- Returning phone calls
- Networking on social media
- Course creation
- Accounting including invoice review, payment and managing your budget
Start Batching Right Now!
- Create your to do list. Spend two minutes writing down everything that comes to mind. Don’t stop until the two minutes are up.
- Group similar tasks logically by their function (e.g. email, calls, meetings, items tied to a specific deliverable) and location (e.g. computer, downtown, car).
- Break your day into segments and assign each task category a dedicated window of time.
Variables To Consider When Making Your Batch Plan
- When are you most productive? (I’m a night owl)
- Time available vs. time it takes to complete the task
- Defined dates
- Spacing out projects to avoid burnout
Let’s Get Real About Task Batching
- Task batch planning takes time. So you’re going to need to task batch that too.
- Life Happens. Things come up. Give yourself wiggle room and the openness to adjust and readjust your calendar.
- Find a system that works for you and make it fun. You might need to try several approaches to batching. Don’t give up! I often use different colored pens and highlighters, sticky notes, and a giant wall calendar.
- Do everything you can to minimize distractions. Turn off email and phone alerts. Put in earbuds (even if you aren’t listening to anything). Leave your phone in another room.
- Publish over perfection. I’m not suggesting that you feel rushed or anxious to complete a bucket of work, but I would encourage you to think about the value of the additional time spent aiming for perfection rather than moving onto the next task. With batching, projects won’t drag on forever.
Bottom line, you’ll get more done, feel more focused and less anxious about your to-do list, while also feeling energized, in control and accomplished!
Have you tried task batching? Have any other productivity tips?