If you’re anything like most people, you start your day by checking and then responding to your emails. While it benefits the people you’re replying to, it’s a lousy way to manage your time. You should consider task batching, it’s a smarter way of doing things – and it may work for you. But when it comes to productivity and time management, it’s not one-size-fits-all proposition, so another productivity hack you may want to check out is Day Theming
How Task Batching can Increase Your Productivity
Task batching was designed to eliminate multitasking, which is the enemy of productivity. It involves grouping similar tasks together and working through them. Doing so avoids multitasking and also helps if you tend to procrastinate.
So, What Exactly is Task Batching?
Task batching is a smart time management and productivity strategy. It involves grouping similar tasks into a batch and then addressing these, before moving on to the next batch of tasks. By doing so you avoid multitasking and what is also known as ‘context switching’ – jumping back and forth between tasks.
Despite what pop culture has been telling you, multitasking is simply not productive. According to neuroscientists, your brain works best when it gets to focus on one thing at a time. And your ability to focus and concentrate is unfortunately not a limitless resource, so it just makes sense to use that which you have, optimally.
Task batching involves focusing on the tasks at hand and not allowing yourself to dwell on everything else you need to do, because that way you are distracting yourself and trying to focus on more than one thing at a time.
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It takes time and energy to constantly have to reset and refocus on tasks, because you’ve been trying to multitask.
So much so that it’s referred to as “switching tax” – and it can take around 23 minutes before your brain adjusts fully and you’re able to properly focus on the task at hand. Don’t do it.
How to Make Task Batching Work for You
1. Consider your tasks for the day, and then group similar tasks together.
Are you paying attention?
So here’s a biggie: WRITE IT DOWN.
Whether you prefer the old school pen and notepad method, or typing it out on your computer – the point is to get the clutter out your head
and free up space and bandwidth for tasks that require your focus. I used to fool myself into thinking that I didn’t need to write things down and that I’d remember them, and I would, but at the expense of being able to focus fully.
My mind would have the annoying habit of interjecting with “Don’t forget you still need to do XYZ…”, which is exactly what you’re trying to avoid with task batching.
The irony is scheduling your time can feel like a massive waste of time, at the time.
You have SO much to do, and now you have to waste even more of it by writing out a to-do list a mile long. Rather than take a load off, it’s enough to induce anxiety and abject panic.
Here’s the thing: it does take time initially, but it gets easier and it ends up saving you a whole lot of time in the long run.
What Does Batching Similar Tasks Look Like?
Task batching similar tasks for me could include creating a page of web copy, writing a blog and an email newsletter. Then moving on to the next batch of similar tasks that could include creating and sending invoices and following up on payments. Word to the wise: An infinitely better way to do this would be to engage a personal assistant service.
2. Block Off Time in Your Schedule
If it’s in your calendar, it’s a commitment. It also lets your team know not to disturb you during these periods.
3. Schedule Tasks According to Your Periods of Peak Productivity
Organize your responsibilities to maximize productivity, and when you are most focused.
Some people prefer getting this done first thing in the morning, while the rest of us need several strong cups of coffee and tend to be more focused in the afternoons.
4. Color Coding
If you want to level up your time management and productivity skills, consider color coding blocks of time.
This allows you to know what your day looks like at a glance of meetings that are blocked in yellow and deep work in blue.
5. Minimize distractions
When I have blog posts to write, I have to leave my phone in a drawer in another room. If my phone pings with a message, I will stop what I am doing and check the message, then notice that there are several other messages to read and respond to. Then I figure, while I’m here I may as well check social media, or hey – I haven’t yet done today’s Wordle. And so it goes.
2 hours down the rabbit hole and absolutely nothing to show for it.
I aspire to be like Bill Gates who takes himself off to a cabin in the woods for 2 weeks a year where he is completely disconnected and isolated from the rest of the world. He uses the time to think and read. Away from all the clutter and distractions.
Maybe you can’t manage two weeks, but if you can manage two hours, you’ll be amazed at what you can get done.
6. Reminder: You’re Not a Machine
Yeah, I know you think you are. But you’re not. For the sake of your sanity and peace of mind, you need to schedule regular breaks too. If you’re working on a tight schedule or a deadline is looming, it’s tempting to push through or to ‘just get it done’. Trust us, you need the break.
There is an old Zen proverb which says …”You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day – unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.”…
The Benefits of Task Batching
Increased focus and attention
Task batching allows your brain to stay focused for longer which increases your attention span.
Maybe not initially, but over the period of a few weeks you’ll notice a marked improvement in your attention span.
You Get More Done
Your productivity improves and so too does the quality of your work. Because you’re better organized,you can see what needs to be done, at a glance.
And this leads to:
Task Batching Equals Stress Reduction
Your schedule feels more manageable and you’re producing better work in less time. And you know you’re going to feel good about that!
This is how things should work in an ideal world. You’d plan out your time, schedule it and then stick to the plan.
But life doesn’t work like that.
Sometimes there are going to be times when a priority will pop up that needs your immediate attention.
And hopefully there will be many times when opportunity knocks and you need to drop everything to answer.
Have a plan in place, but try to remain flexible. It’s okay to reschedule time blocks when you need to.
If You’re Serious About Productivity
You should give us a call.
Book a discovery call with us today. Tell us what you need help with and we’ll match you with a professional va who will fit in with your plans, and free up your time by taking care of the necessary tasks that you just can’t seem to find the time for.