The truth is, being productive is more science than art. How do you master this science? Well, it takes time, practice, and trial-and-error. But there’s one powerful strategy that will give you a good start: Batching.
Batching means that you group similar tasks together, rather than work piecemeal, jumping from one task to another. This strategy isn’t complicated, but it can radically transform the way you finish projects, approach your “to do” lists, and even manage stress.
In this article, we’ll take a look at why to batch, as well as how…giving you a superhero strategy to finish every workday feeling like a boss.
Why Try Batching?
Chances are, you already have a method of approaching your workload. Whether conscious or unconscious, you have habits that dictate your workflow and behaviors. For example, you may check your inbox first thing in the morning and then tackle tasks and problems as they arise. Maybe you address all needs and tasks associated with one client before shifting to the next. Or maybe you flip-flop between projects and emails, checking your email and text messaging constantly.
Are these really ideal strategies for working productively and efficiently?
When your brain is forced to shift gears from task to task, you prevent yourself from getting into the flow–that special zone of maximum productivity in which you accomplish your best work at an efficient pace.
In fact, one study showed that multitasking reduced productivity in students by 40%. Another study by a psychiatrist found that switching back and forth between tasks knocks down your IQ by 10 points.
Batching can help you avoid less-than-desirable side effects of multitasking by streamlining your focus on a single type of task over time. Click To Tweet But that’s not the only advantage of batching…
Batching Reduces Mistakes
Batching reduces your likelihood of making errors. When you’re constantly switching back and forth between types of work, you’re more likely to forget details and make missteps. Plus, you’re less likely to produce high-quality work that comes out of a place of deep focus.
Batching Breaks Time into Manageable Chunks
Believe it or not, batching can actually help you prevent that overwhelmed, stressed-out feeling you get from meditating on your massive to-do list. By breaking down tasks into manageable chunks and drawing boundaries around your own time usage, you create a system for managing your schedule. You don’t have to get everything done right now. You only need to tackle your “assigned” tasks.
Batching Keeps You Organized
Batching can help you stay uber-organized by helping you think methodically through what needs to get done, and when. You’re less likely to miss key tasks (like sending an invoice, project proposal, or finishing up a piece of content) when you group like tasks together.
If all of this sounds good, then you’re ready to start batching!
How to Start Batching
Batching isn’t complex, but it definitely takes intentionality. Here are strategies you’ll want to use to get the most out of this productivity-boosting approach to work:
Divide Your Work into Subcategories
First, you’ll need to decide on appropriate subcategories of work for batching tasks.
For example, if you’re a writer, you may want to divide your work into research, outlining, writing, editing, proofing, and admin tasks related to various clients.
If you run an ecommerce business, you may want to batch your personal emails, support requests, new marketing efforts, shipping administration, and website management.
If you’re a social media manager, you may want to divide your tasks into scheduling, content creation, market research, and client administration.
In any case, you’ll most likely want to choose 3-5 categories that cover the majority of your active work hours, and involve similar mental activities. This is the key to batching: Creating a schedule that will keep you from needing to “start” and “stop” over and over throughout your day. Instead, you’ll create a focused, meditative flow that allows you to tackle each task with ease.
Plan Out Your Week
When you’re committed to batching, every day of the week is intentionally planned out. Let’s say you’re a content writer. You may want to batch all of your research for content on Mondays. Tuesday is spent outlining, and Wednesday and Thursday are for writing. Finally, Friday is for all admin tasks.
Or, you can batch according to chunks of the day. For example, maybe you spend your AM on administrative tasks, and your PM is focused purely on creation.
No matter what approach you choose to task, you’ll want to schedule strategically. For tasks that require more mental focus and clarity, choose a time of day or day of the week during which you reach peak productivity (Tip: You can use Timing to check your personal levels of productivity throughout the day and the week).
Then, stick to your schedule!
What’s the archnemesis of batching? Distraction.
Maybe you can’t resist checking your social media accounts, reading the news, chatting with a friend at your coworking space, or visiting the snack fridge. Whatever the kryptonite, avoid it at all costs. The whole point of batching is to remain laser-focused so that you can produce quality work…not get sidelined by a cat video.
Of course, make sure to schedule breaks between batching tasks. Getting refreshed and reset will help you return to work with renewed clarity and mental acuity.
Create a Schedule & Sync it to Timing
Once you’ve determined how you’re going to categorize and break down your timing usage, use the Calendar app on your Mac to create a schedule. Then, you can sync it to Timing by activating this feature in your preferences. Your nifty new calendar will show up as a separate timeline in your Review tab, keeping you on track with batching.
Using batching together with Timing will help you stay accountable to your own plan of action and view how many hours and minutes are consumed by different kinds of tasks.
Not only that, but you’ll be able to see how batching is improving your levels of productivity, per hour or day. Go to your Review tab at the end of the day to view your most productive hours. Or, shift the setting to “This Week,” “This Month,” “This Quarter,” or “This Year” to view your most productive weekdays.
Ideally, batching will have significantly boosted your productivity…and hopefully, your earnings!
So far, you’ve learned how to batch your workday tasks to get more done, faster. But did you know that you can use batching to transform your entire schedule…not just your working hours?
If you’re as passionate about productivity as we are, chances are that you also plan and schedule your off-work hours as well. Try batching your cleaning chores, meal prep, reading, and personal admin tasks. You may be surprised at how grouping these kinds of activities together can make your off-days extra productive…leaving more time for rest and recreation. (We don’t recommend batching your sleeping or eating, however!)
Think of batching as the simple life hack that maximizes you–making you a more productive, efficient worker, and a happier, more balanced human being!