Why Batching Tasks May Be Your Next Productivity Secret Weapon
Rich approaches his day without an approach. He has a ton to do every single day and wonders why he doesn’t get more accomplished.
He’s busy all day and very busy compared to most around him. But busy simply doesn’t mean productive.
Rich’s approach is no different than a majority of people in the corporate world.
They’re skilled reactors.
Here is the process of a reactor: working on a project or important task then…
- An email alert comes on to the screen and you choose to respond and you begin checking other emails
- Then the phone rings and you answer it and the call takes longer than you planned
- You choose, just for a minute, to look on LinkedIn that leads to clicking on links and 20 minutes later…
And this is just the first hour of your day!
Is there another way?
The concept of Batching Tasks is choosing and concentrating on a cluster of similar tasks for a set period of time. But why?
Why Batch Similar Tasks:
Nothing wrecks havoc on your day like inefficiency. Bouncing around stops any type of momentum.
You need to be efficient in how you approach work and randomness is literally the complete opposite of efficiency.
When you batch similar tasks together you dramatically increase your efficiency immediately.
Randomness takes energy. You’re constantly moving from activity to activity. The result is most tasks are not getting completed and often done poorly if completed.
We struggle enough with energy without sabotaging it ourselves with randomness. This is a choice. Conserve your personal energy.
What do you lose when you’re random? Focus.
When you concentrate on one task, you have the ability to focus and are no longer concerned or affected with interruptions. This does an amazing thing for your productivity which means results.
And isn’t results the point at the end of the day?
How to Batch Similar Tasks
1. Determine What Can Be Batched
Your day has a ton of repeated activities. We just don’t realize it sometimes. These are immediate candidates for batching.
Three easy tasks to batch:
- Email – if there is ONLY one batch you ever choose, or the one to start with, choose email. You may need a few within your day but limit your emails to only this batch
- Phone calls – get into the make or return call rhythm by putting all your calls together during a certain period of time
- Meetings – schedule on the same day, same time of day, back to back if possible
I’ve personally added organizing / filing / processing to a task that can be batched and reserve a certain time each day to do this important yet batchable task.
You must decide what task you can batch within your day and be confident if you do this activity, you can make forward progress.
2. Decide When You Can Batch
You know your schedule better than anyone. You do have time within your day when you can batch tasks especially when you know what tasks you can cluster together.
Consider using this criteria:
When you have availability – your job may have a certain rhythm within any given day. With some thought you can determine when within your day are prime batch times
When you have energy – some activities are simply brainless activity and can be done at any time and use very little mental capacity. (email and organizing / processing / filing can fall under this category)
When you have downtime –certain parts of your day lend to downtime. It may be right after lunch or a few minutes in between activities and these are perfect fillers, if planned ahead of time to maximize this window and see some results
3. How Often Can You Batch
Your job may require to lean heavier on a certain task such as emails or phone calls or meetings.
For example, if your job relies heavily on email, you may need to start with a couple times in the morning and a couple of times in the afternoon.
Most use not being able to get everything done in a batch as an excuse. But often it’s simply a matter of adjusting how often you need to batch a certain group of tasks. This is a solvable problem.
Question – How Long Should I Batch?
The power comes in the focus on the batching not necessarily the length of your batch. You will get into a rhythm and will pound out those tasks due to the focus.
You will be surprised at how much less time it actually takes when you’re focused and batching then when you randomly answer emails or phone calls.
Over time, you will find your pace and rhythm to know if you need to increase the length and / or the frequency of the batching Time Block.
For example, when I started batching emails or phone calls, I under-estimated the needed time and adjusted from 15 minutes to 30 minutes. When I did this, I found that I didn’t need as many email batch Time Blocks.
I also found that I scheduled too much time for organizing / processing / filing. IF I left a paper trail and stayed focused during this Time Block. I actually needed less time.
We desire to be productive but it’s those who choose to make the necessary changes within their day that will begin to see the results.
We can pose as productive because we’re busy.
But you know.
I challenge you to determine what tasks can be batched, when you can batch your tasks within your day and how long you will need.
It’s a process. But your productivity will go up and your randomness will go down.
What tasks can you batch within your day and when will you schedule that time?