You are probably thinking, "What in the world is batching and what does it have to do with productivity?"
Batching tasks together saves time and makes life easier, so I am a huge fan of this. Instead of doing every single task at different times during the week, I collect a group of similar activities and do them all at the same time. You could collect all your reading assignments, phone calls, or chores and do them all at one time.
Why Does Batching Work?
The first reason batching works is that it reduces daily clutter. Instead of scanning my email inbox multiple times every day, I check it only once per day. Instead of doing all of my assignments separately throughout the week, I finish them in one session.
The second reason batching works is that it improves focus. You are probably familiar with this: the longer you work on a task, the more you enter a "flow." That "flow" is a state of mind where work becomes easy and distractions seem to disappear.
How to Start Batching
How can you start batching tasks together? I have compiled a list of places to start to save you time, stress, and achieve mindful productivity.
- Cooking. Prepare your meals for the week ahead on Sunday. This might take a few hours, but you will save some time during the week.
- Classes. If you are scheduling classes, arrange them back to back in order to avoid large gaps. Sometimes, it is hard to get started on a task during these long, but not long enough, chunks of time.
- Cleaning. Do all your cleaning-related chores at one time during the week.
- Entertainment. Try to batch all your leisure time at the end of the day. This will motivate you to finish your work early and truly relax (instead of procrastinate).
- Assignments. Whenever I have multiple assignments due in a week, I try to do them all in one sitting. Even though I might spend several hours one day trying to finish up these tasks, I save myself from procrastination.
- Email. Tim Ferris, the author of The 4-Hour Workweek, received over 300 emails per hour during his book's bestseller climb. However, he only answered his email once per day. So why do we check our emails multiple times per day?
- Phone calls. Keep a running list of people you need to call and do it once per day. This way, you are not stopping and starting work in between calls.
- Reading. Try to read work or school material in one or two batches per week.
- Computer work. Although this has become increasingly difficult these days, try to batch all of your computer work into part of the day. If being on a computer is part of your job, this probably is not applicable to you.
- Magazine/article reading. Do you subscribe to magazines or newsletters (like Productive Break's Tuesday's Tackling Tasks)? On one day per week, read through all of them at one time.
- Shopping/errands. Instead of making multiple trips to different locations throughout the week, do all of your grocery shopping, visits to the post office, and dry cleaning at one time.
- Free time. Compress your work into five or six days of the week, and give yourself the weekend off. However, this varies upon how you define "work." Generally, if it goes on your to-do list, it is work.
- Thinking. Do you have an hour or two of "thinking" time each week where you do a weekly review? If not, you should get into this habit. This can be your most creative time!
- Planning. If you have a big goal or idea, set aside a few hours to plan it out. If you continue to plan only in pieces, you might never actually start.
- Sleep. Even though Thomas Edison may not agree with me, I sleep only once each day and try to avoid naps. This will push you to make sure you get enough sleep when you do sleep only once.
Which tasks are you likely to start batching together? Let me know in the comments below!