Do you feel like you have too much on your plate? If you have a hard time finding a work-life balance, can't seem to study enough, or feel overwhelmed because of your busy schedule, batching could be the answer to your problems. It's a simple time management method that you can quickly adapt for work, school, or getting more things done at home.
How Does Batching Work?
This method uses the idea of batches to help you organize your time more effectively. A batch is a group of tasks that have something in common. The purpose of grouping tasks is to have batches you can complete in one sitting.
If you often perform repetitive tasks, you would block an hour of your time and get all these tasks done at once. If you can group similar tasks because they require you to use the same tools or skills, you could get them done in a single batch.
There are multiple ways of grouping your tasks, and you can decide how much time you want to block for each batch. It’s a flexible approach to time management that helps you get rid of multitasking.
You can create daily batches for small repetitive tasks you perform every day at work like answering emails. You can plan your week with some batches that help you run errands more effectively, and have some monthly batches that help you meet your goals.
Why You Should Stop Multitasking
Batching is the answer to multitasking. Multitasking can make you feel more productive, and you might get the impression that you get more things done if you work on several things at once.
However, the concept of multitasking is misleading. Your brain isn’t working on several things at once. Instead, you switch between tasks at a rapid pace. It’s counter-productive because you never truly focus on what you do.
Researchers have found that multitasking prevents you from making good decisions. It’s difficult to use your critical thinking and decision-making skills when you switch between tasks.
Multitasking prevents you from achieving an optimal focus level. You waste a few seconds every time you switch between tasks because your brain has to adjust. If you often multitask, you have probably notice that it can negatively impact the quality of your work or that it’s difficult to retain information. Multitasking also feels stressful and overwhelming.
Unfortunately, many workplaces have adopted multitasking as a norm. This approach only works if you can perform some tasks on autopilot because you don’t need to focus on them. There are probably a few repetitive and mindless tasks you can perform while multitasking, but this approach isn’t ideal for most of the things you do.
Getting Started With Batching
You can start organizing your tasks in groups by keeping track of what you do during a typical day or looking at your to-do list. Ask yourself how much time you usually spend on different tasks, how often you switch between tasks, and where you typically waste time.
If you can identify repetitive tasks, group them into a single batch. Look for logical ways to group other tasks. If you have to be physically present in one spot for different tasks, put them in the same batch.
You will encounter a few challenges in the beginning. It's difficult to assess how long it will take to complete a batch. You might find that it's challenging to remain focused long enough to finish a bunch of tasks.
It takes a while to get used to that system. Don't feel bad if you don't meet your goals or if you spend more time than you had planned on completing a batch. Limit yourself to planning one or two batches a day at first, and keep track of how long it takes you to achieve these groups of tasks.
You will figure out how long you have to spend on each type of batch after a while. You will also find better ways of grouping tasks, and get a better idea of how much you can realistically accomplish in one day.
Useful Batching Tips
We love batch processing because it’s a flexible approach to organizing your time. You can take that concept and make it work for what you need to accomplish. Here are a few tips that will help you get started.
Batching and Prioritizing
Some important things are going to come up during the day. You will encounter interruptions while you work on a batch or during your downtime.
You need to ask yourself a quick question when an interruption occurs. Is it something you should put aside for later, or is it something that requires your immediate attention?
Asking yourself that question will help you prioritize important tasks and identify the things you can put aside for later.
Find a Way to Save Things for Later
Batch processing is about grouping tasks and setting time aside to work on them. You need to find an effective way of keeping track of what you need to do.
The downside of grouping tasks for later is that you can easily overlook something if you don’t have the right tools for recording essential tasks. You can easily group repetitive tasks you perform daily or weekly since they won't change, but you can also batch unexpected tasks and one-time tasks with the right organizational tools.
We recommend creating a to-do list on your phone or carrying a small notebook with you. Add a new item to your list for articles to read, phones calls to make, and errands to run. You can then go over your list at the end of the day and add each task to a relevant batch.
The key is to find an effective way of recording tasks and setting some time aside to plan your batches.
If you don’t already have a schedule or calendar, you should start using one. You need a schedule or calendar to block time for your different batches.
You can use the Pomodoro technique to plan your batches and block time. This technique consists of working for 25 minutes before taking a five-minute break. The next interval should last 25 minutes. You can take a longer break after completing four intervals.
You can block enough time to complete four of these intervals, which would correspond to two hours. You can get a lot done in two hours, and the 25-minute intervals and frequent breaks will help you stay focused.
You can easily adjust the Pomodoro technique depending on the type of tasks you need to complete. You can create shorter intervals, or block enough time for two intervals instead of four.
Avoid planning one batch right after another. It’s good to take breaks between batches, and you need some leeway in case some tasks take longer to complete.
You should also leave some room in your schedule for unexpected things that will require your immediate attention.
We also recommend blocking some time for fun and leisure! Setting a few hours aside for activities you enjoy will help you find a healthy work-life balance.
When is the best time for you to focus on important tasks? Some people tend to be more productive in the morning while others get more things done at night. You might find that it’s easier to focus and get things done after a workout. Take these things into consideration when blocking time for a batch of important tasks.
You should also get rid of clutter and have a designated space for each batch you need to complete. Working in a cluttered environment can impact your ability to focus. Having a clean workspace and use different spots for your batches will help you get in the right state of mind.
Technology is another issue. It’s easy to get distracted between social media, emails, calls, and texts. We recommend keeping track of the amount of time you spend on social media, and turning off sounds for texts and notifications on your phone when you need to focus on a batch.
Find a Balance between Routine and Diversity
The great thing about batching is that you can explore different ways of planning your days. If you need a routine to get more things done, create a batch with some repetitive tasks you need to take care of daily.
If variety helps you thrive, don’t hesitate to create different groups of tasks or to batch things that don’t have a lot in common.
It's a good thing to make a few changes to your routine once in a while, and we recommend finding new ways to group your tasks if you find it challenging to stay focused. You should also avoid using the same schedule and batches from one day to the next. If you have some weekly tasks, create batches so that you can focus on a different thing every day.
You can use batch processing for a wide range of tasks. Get started with a few simple tasks and start using batches for more things once you become comfortable with that time management strategy.
Here are a few examples of tasks you can easily batch at work, school, or home.
Emails and Communication
Emails can become time-consuming and disruptive. We often feel that we have to respond to emails right away.
Create a small hourly batch to go over your emails and identify essential messages that require an immediate response. Keep the other emails for your daily batch, or create a morning and afternoon batch if you receive a lot of emails.
You can batch other types of communication-related tasks with your emails, including calls or letters.
Appointments and Records
If your job includes meeting with clients, we recommend creating a large daily batch with all your appointments. You can spend the rest of your day focusing on other tasks.
You can easily group record-keeping and data entry tasks into a daily or weekly batch. Create a physical or virtual file for invoices, receipts, and other records you need to track. Put them aside for a batch you complete at the end of the workday.
Grouping tasks can help you study more effectively. There are different ways of grouping tasks.
You can create a weekly batch to get everything done for a specific class, or group task types together. You could, for instance, have a daily batch for readings, conducting research, or writing assignments.
You can get more done around the house by grouping chores. You should create a small daily batch with things like washing dishing or making the bed. Add a different task to that batch every day.
You could add vacuuming a room to your daily batch on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Add dusting or cleaning the bathroom the remaining days. Create a larger cleaning batch once a month and block an entire Saturday to take care of it.
You can batch meal prep and cooking to save time and adopt a healthier diet. You can cook large meals and freeze small portions.
Shopping and Errands
A great way to save time on shopping and other errands is to group the things you need to do by location. You can set an afternoon aside each week for appointments, grocery shopping, and other errands in the same area. You can also create batches for online shopping to save time.
Going over your to-do lists, creating batches of tasks, and blocking some time on your planner are things you should do weekly.
You should batch all your planning and time management-related tasks and set aside 30 minutes every week to create your batches.
Batching is a flexible time management strategy that helps you get more things done. It’s a great alternative to multitasking, and you should notice a difference in the quality of the work you do. It’s a useful organizational tool for students, and we recommend using it for household chores, meal prep, and running errands.