The benefits of batching
By Raeleen | 1 August 2015
Find your productivity sweet spot
We are big on batching in our office, but it hasn’t always been that way. I used to be absolutely drowning in emails. Every time a new email would come in, a little icon would pop up on my desktop and I’d click in straight away to address whatever request was being made or whatever fire needed to be put out. But it meant dropping tools and losing momentum in whatever I was doing.
As a creative, I thought it wasn’t affecting me, and that I could just pick up where I left off, but that was never true. It’s not that simple for anybody. It takes you a good ten minutes of working at one task before you hit that sweet spot of productivity and you’re really flying. Every time I stopped to answer an email, I had to start again from scratch. What a whole lot of wasted time!
What is batching?
Batching is collecting a bunch of similar activities, and doing them all together, one after the other. That means when you hit that productivity sweet spot, you ride that wave longer and further, and you save time. We batch all of our activities in the office: meetings, emails, project management, brainstorming, phone calls, even writing this blog.
Batching saves time, without a doubt. As well as the ten minutes of mental ramp up time you need every time you start a task, there is also time loading your emails, gathering your colleagues together, getting out of your chair and walking to wherever you need to go. They’re all small amounts, but they add up.
Batching tasks you hate
I hate reading our financials, and I’ll avoid it with all sorts of other tasks if I can help it. But now I set aside half an hour every week to sit down and go through everything. Breaking it down into a manageable time period and knocking it off on a regular basis has made it much less imposing to me. Not only do I feel fantastic after I’ve done it each week, I always ensure it is scheduled before something I really enjoy, so I get my reward at the end.
How to start batching right now
Don’t put it off – you can start batching right this minute. Here are some tweaks you can make to your day to make you more effective.
- Email: turn off your notifications and block out some time to answer your emails once a day. If that freaks you out, make it two or three times a day and then start to wind it back as you get more comfortable.
- Social media: turn off your notifications, and if you don’t need to access social media for work, save it for lunchtime or after work. If you do need to access social media as part of your job, block out a small window of time just after your scheduled updates, to answer responses. Then be firm with yourself. It doesn’t make any practical difference to your day if three more people liked that funny song your kids sang at breakfast, does it?
- Reading: save articles you find online in Evernote (use the Google Chrome plugin) and then set aside some time a couple of times per week to read through your file. Evernote is also sensational for organizing to-do lists, ideas, notes and reminders.
- Meetings: create an agenda and cover everything you need to in one meeting. Make it at a regular time, have a tangible goal, and ensure everyone knows what is expected of them. Send the agenda to the attendees ahead of time so they can bring anything they need to the meeting.
- Projects: if you’re working on multiple projects, batch similar tasks together, or dedicate entire chunks of time to a single project – whichever will allow you to focus more effectively.
- Phone calls: make a list of people you need to speak to during the day and then make all your calls in one sitting.