Is your planner in order? Oh, very impressive! How about the stuff spread and piled “nicely” on your work desk? Do you have chunks of time during your day or week assigned for specific tasks, including a little work-related housekeeping? If the answer was a big NO, why not give batching a try?
Batching is a lifehack that helps group associated tasks for increased productivity. If you just rolled your eyes a little and thought: ‘Ah, another new term for an old concept called multitasking.’ I’m on the up and up—it kind of crossed my mind too when I first heard of it. I thought, ‘OK, here we go again making up a new concept out of an old one in a “claim to fame”.’ But what if I told you that these concepts are not entirely the same.
When we multitask, something has to give
and more often than not, it’s accuracy!
As it turns out, batching serves as a valuable management tool that not only frees up our days for more creative sessions and “white spaces,” but simultaneously affords laser focus quality and accuracy in our work. You see, when we multitask, something has to give and more often than not, it’s accuracy! In my line of work, I see this every day. Unless you work in a factory in front of a conveyor belt, like Lucy and Ethel in this I Love Lucy episode, please slow down. Double and triple check your work if you must, but don’t be cross with the rest of the team for your blunders. Try batching instead!
With batching, you can organize similar duties and chores, as well as small or large projects over specific days to tackle them together (notice I said together, not simultaneously). Batching helps you break down long lists, maintaining a high degree of focus, one task at a time; thereby reducing stress and eliminating the burning of the candle at both ends. After all, everyone wants a life well-lived without running around frantically (like Wile E. Coyote) or frenetically (like the Road Runner). Beep Beep!!
Batching is a level above multitasking for
organization, accuracy, and time management;
and it’s different from time-blocking.
Although this discussion is primarily intended for the entrepreneur, independent representative or personal business owner, it is intrinsically inclusive, as batching can be practiced by anyone. Large families flow best by batching all of their chores and extracurricular activities with moms at the helm (and cool “superhero” dads too).
I would say that batching is a level above multitasking for organization, accuracy, and time management; and it’s different from blocking out time ahead of busy days. Whereas you would be blocking your time anyway, batching is the tasks themselves—the process of getting the work done.
Here is a visual for my analytical cohorts. Take laundry, where separating your dark and medium colors from your whites can be compared to multitasking, batching goes beyond to separate all of the white bedding, linens, and towels—from the white socks, shirts, dresses, skirts and pants; thus eliminating many different extra steps toward the end result of hanging or storing them (hang in there; we’re zooming back to the home office in a minute!).
I know…you may be thinking that you will end up with more loads, but combining batching with time blocking can offer the ultimate solution to cumbersome routines. It makes the daily grind not only free-flowing but much simpler to accomplish.
Batching laundry is surely another topic for another platform, but as a mother of five and a lifetime color-coder, I can vouch for batching. It makes not only tackling your laundry a cinch, but other tasks as well! And, you don’t have to be an organized, achievement-driven Type A personality to bring order to chaos and organize the everyday.
‘Pardon me,’ the voice of reason says. ‘A glance at your planner shows that you scheduled a Zoom meeting, a weekly creative session, routine lab work, meal-prepping, and dropping off your kids’ uniforms at the cleaners (not to mention what you discussed with your spouse that is not on the planner; like collecting your papers for the dreaded Income Tax filing that you got an extension for, going to the gym, taking Caesar to the groomer, and getting the garden trimmed and pruned). All of it on your child’s soccer game next Wednesday. What were you thinking!!’
Clearly, you have been time-blocking everything but also spreading yourself thin. Here is where batching comes in. Take a look below on how to take all of those tasks and events and simply group them together.
- Yes, keep your body and mind healthy and strong!* Hit the gym, the park, or a designated room of the house to exercise. Continue your regular stretching, walking, running or cycling, as it is vitally important to your circulation; eliminating brain fog, providing more energy, and greatly benefitting your second brain. (wink-wink)
- Get your errands done.
- Drop Caesar off at the groomer** and then check off other tasks in your errands list (one by one) including the drop-off at cleaners.
- Shop for groceries; and
Don’t forget to hydrate!
*Like your devotional, meditation, or “quiet” time, the gym (or exercise routine) should be non-negotiable. This is a recurring time-blocking event that doesn’t need batching. You have to allocate time for it (period)
**You could have a mobile groomer provide curbside service at your house for just a few more dollars and save yourself or another family member the trip to drop off and/or pick up your pet.
- Producing day for planning, developing, executing:
- personal development, mentoring, and a planning/creative session;
- social media marketing (going LIVE, tweets, posts and/or stories);
- Zoom or Skype conferencing, phone calls, and meetings throughout the day and/or evening.
Don’t forget to hydrate!
- Get your labs done first thing (pre-set appointment)!
- Laundry. Batch your laundry before your mid-week business development call and let your washer & dryer work for you as you grow!
- Gardening. Whether your landscapers are scheduled on this day, or it’s a gardening DIY, you can get it done after the call.
- Mid-day/early afternoon moving. Go on a 20 to 30-minute walk around your neighborhood. Practice these 3 Ls: Look at, listen to, and lay on nature. I like to walk barefooted on the grass. There are great articles that talk about “grounding” or “earthing” for better health. Also, inhale, exhale! See our post on work-life integration for the 4-7-8 Breath technique.
- Take your child to soccer. Remember to put your mobile and all electronics away, so that when your child glances over, s/he can see you’re totally engaged and cheering them on!
Oh, and don’t forget to hydrate!
With all of this, you still have two or three free days! In the example above, the creative session couldn’t be fit into Tuesday after all, but it can be batched on Thursday or Friday with reading, writing, research & development. And, while this is a hypothetical, you can batch a planning session (because everyone plans, right?) with crafting, a DIY, or with that online course or music lesson you’ve been brushing up on since the pandemic began.
OK, let’s get back to our businessperson and gathering the paperwork for the IRS. This can be batched on their usual bill-paying day, which I strongly suggest that the spouse time-blocks and batches on the very same day. I promise it will reduce the amount of phone calls, or calling each other out around the house! 😉
At the end of the day, you know your individual and household needs better than anyone, so, since nothing is set in stone with batching, you can swap periodically, or trump things altogether anytime. Moreover, if you are not as busy as the person in our example, know that by no means does that translate to being ineffective or unproductive. One thing is certain though, by batching whatever it is you do, you can be more organized; not to mention punctual (ay-ay-ay).
‘But this is micromanaging’ I heard you sound off. I assure you that batching is unlike that, as micromanaging can truly be discouraging, demotivating, and outright controlling. You see, with batching you don’t control anyone but the only person you can: yourself! As opposed to many other things and life scenarios, when it comes to batching, this is about you! (tee-hee)
As far as timers, intervals, and short breaks, many people, especially those with cognitive impairments, thrive well with them but they could also drive other folks batty! By the way, check out our post about jigs or guiding systems in business that decrease monetary expense, reduce the amount of energy, effort, and mental resources, while increasing the value of solutions; and don’t forget to laugh!
Closing it out, since we covered examples of batching, here are some batching don’ts:
1. Don’t make your tasks long. If it takes several hours, you won’t really have much time to batch other things. Keep a narrow, shorter focus on your task at hand. You may need to section off, divide, partition a creative, planning, or writing session on your planner (e.g., Part One and Part Two). This ebbs and flows in many industries, like communications, marketing, film and publishing, but it can work for you as well. Returning to your draft with a fresh pair of eyes on another day does wonders. Resuming a work meeting in a few days can too! Sometimes you need to let some things and some people simmer down (hint, hint).
2. Don’t mix and mingle. As outlined, the batching technique works best by grouping similar things. Also, should you need to drive around town on your errands day, employ logistics by starting with the farthest location first. Schedule these tasks in such a way that they will be done in half a day (five hours or less) with a 30-minute break in between. Should these take longer, return to 1. above.
3. Don’t fret. The whole point of batching is to alleviate your load and allow for more room in your day, week, month—life. Batching is meant to make your tasks easy breezy. When you see a deadline coming, keep your peace. If it’s too close for comfort, reach out and ask for an extension. In the majority of cases, people are gracious.
Basically, nothing can duplicate motivation better than to see our tasks completed on time or ahead of strict deadlines. You may have been batching all of your life, like me, and didn’t even know that’s what you were doing. All along you thought you were super organized, while your kids thought you were “extra!” 😃 And yet, that might not be the case; batching could be the life jacket that keeps your head above water.
So then, why not give batching a chance? Let us know how it worked out for you. As for me, I’m outta here—it’s laundry day! Woot-woot and yay, let’s go slay the day!!
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