If you want to get serious about time-management and get a lot of stuff done, it’s time to learn more about batching.
As entrepreneurs, with our busy schedules, it takes serious ninja skills to manage our days. There’s a lot of advice out there and I am always eager to try it out to see if I can improve my process.
It took me quite a while and several test-runs to get into batching. But now I can say that it changed my life. Batching helped me to be more focused and get much more done. I am no longer constantly running behind schedule. Let’s break it down, the good, the bad and the ugly.
Batching is a time-management and productivity system. It’s based on the same concept as meal-planning. Which means you save time by doing the same or similar tasks in one sitting without distractions.
How does batching work
The first step is to write down all the tasks you do on a regular basis and sort them into categories. Tasks which work well for batching are those which you can do ahead of time. Your categories could be maintenance, writing, photography or bookkeeping. But this, of course, depends on your business.
Then you have to find out how often you need to do these tasks and how much time it’ll take you. For example, if you post one blog post a week it makes 4 per month. Batching your blog post writing could mean that you sit down once a month for several hours to write all 4 posts. This works similarly for creating social media content.
Once you’ve clarified which tasks you can group together and how much time they take to work through, it’s time to schedule them into your calendar. This could be once a month, every week or even every day depending on the category.
The advantages of batching
The #1 reason why batching is so effective is because you don’t waste time. When you get distracted while working on a task it takes 25 minutes to find back into your flow. The same goes for switching between different tasks. Which actually means that you spend more time trying to refocus on the thing in front of you than actually working on it.
When you’re handling your tasks in batches you seriously reduce this time. Once you found your flow you can tackle a lot of work. But to deep-focus on one thing, you have to eliminate all distractions during your batch-work time. A great argument to skip trying to multitask.
For many of us, getting started is the biggest hurdle. I struggle a lot with this. But if you batch similar tasks together you only have to start once. So for me, this is a point on the plus side.
Another advantage of batching is that it helps you to always be on top of your schedule. It forces you to plan ahead. Of course, it’s hard to write several blog posts in one day. But it also means that, once they’re done and scheduled, you can focus on something else.
Lots of tasks we tackle need preparation and setup. You need tools, materials or even a change of place to start. With batching you can cut down the time you need to put all this in place. Photography is the best example. If you’re taking photos for your blog and social media you often need lots of equipment. It takes time to set everything up, assemble props and adjust the setting. You don’t want to do this to take 3 photos. No. You take as many photos as you can in one session.
Batching helps you to create a routine. When you start doing things regularly it forms a kind of habit. Writing, for example, feels easier ever since I started to do it consistently. You can even go so far as to create motto days. This means doing all your writing in one day from blog posts over newsletters to your social media posts.
The problem with batching
Batching hasn’t only advantages of course. As I said above, it took me a long time to get into it. My biggest problem with batching was the planning part.
It takes time to plan your tasks and schedule them into your calendar. But that’s not all. The biggest amount of time goes into preparation. And that’s what I failed to do at first. Because the whole concept of doing all your writing e. g. in one sitting doesn’t work if you don’t have everything you need in place. If you want to focus on writing, upfront work like brainstorming ideas, doing research or creating an outline need to be done already. Of course, you can batch those tasks as well.
Further, batching is only as flexible as you are. If something unexpected comes up you need to rearrange your meticulously planned-out schedule. You will quickly realize that you need to schedule some time blocks for catching up or making changes to make it work.
As a creative, you might even find that batching is too strict and inflexible for you. It can sometimes feel like blocking your creative flow.
But this is why you need to know yourself and how you work best. It might be difficult to schedule creative tasks because you need to be in the right mood to do them. It’s hard to be creative on command. Find out what works best for you.
Batching is not for everyone but if you want to minimize distraction, stress, and overwhelm, I hope you give it a try.
Let me know what you think. Does batching work for you?