What the Heck is Batching?
Have you heard of batching yet?
In this article I am going to detail exactly what the heck batching is and why you need to start doing it today!
Here’s a quick explanation: batching is the grouping of like tasks together.
For example, you can write all of your monthly blog posts at once. (Like I do!) Or you can answer all of your daily emails in two “batches” during the day.
Batching draws on one of my favorite productivity principles: Flow. Flow is the state you sometimes find yourself in when you’re immersed in a task, and you just find yourself flowing easily through the work… it’s like productivity magic!
The main principle behind batching is simple, but its effect can be great. Consider all the tasks you do in a day. Then consider all the time you spend switching between those tasks.
You see, we may think we’re good at multi-tasking, but the truth is our brains can only truly handle one task at a time. And each time we switch between all the tasks we’re doing, it takes extra brainpower!
Over time, all of this task-switching means we never get into Flow and we’re not functioning optimally for the tasks we’re performing.
Batching tasks can solve both of those problems.
When we put like tasks together, we have a better chance of getting into Flow. This is because we’re allowing ourselves to get immersed in a particular type of task and routine. It’s much easier to find our Flow that way.
Also, by focusing on a particular type of task without getting distracted by “multi-tasking” we allow our brains to truly focus on the task at hand which means we’ll usually do it better.
Next I’m going to share an in-depth example of task batching, so you can see how you might be able to make this technique work for you.
One of my favorite type of tasks to batch is writing. Writing involves thinking deeply about your topic, focusing intently on your wording, and constructing a final piece that conveys your thoughts effectively.
For example, I try to write at least four articles a month for Yarnpreneur.com. There’s a handful of steps involved in this process, from picking out topics, to doing any necessary research, to actually writing the text.
I used to try and write one article a week… but it turns out that when you have two business and two jobs life can get a bit busy. So I turned to batching.
Now, I have a few “batches” that pertain to the articles I write each month.
First, I’ll sit down for about 20-30 minutes and brainstorm what I want to write about that month. I have a board on Trello with all of my ideas, an aggregation of research, and things that have just come to me. So in this batch, my goal is to pick out of the list of hundreds of ideas, the four or five that I’ll actually be writing this month.
My next batch includes the research phase. Because this part involves a web browser, I try to separate it from the actual writing batch. I’ll do a few searches, make notes, take screenshots to jog my memory if necessary, and record all of these on my Trello cards for safekeeping.
And then comes the main batch for this task: the writing! I use a program called iAWriter to write and pre-format my articles. I like this app not only because it allows me to use Markdown for easier formatting later, but because of its clean interface. It allows me to focus on the task at hand, without getting distracted by menus, options, etc.
That way, when I’m ready to actually write, that’s all I’m doing. I’ll refer to my notes on Trello if necessary, but usually just the act of doing the research has given me enough information to write the majority of the article from memory. This way, I focus mostly on the idea I’m trying to convey and what I’m really trying to share.
And that’s it! As you can see, batching this task not only makes me more productive and actually better at the task, but it saves time. All of the task-switching my brain had to do before meant that not only was my work suffering, but it was taking significantly longer to complete!
I hope this article has made it easier to understand why batching is a tool you need in your productivity arsenal. I would recommend giving this technique a try as soon as you can so you can see the effects for yourself!