Fact: When you are a busy entrepreneur, there’s never enough time in the day.
Unless you’ve mastered the art of space-time travel, there’s a good chance that time management is something that you struggle with, greatly. Whether you’re running a startup, scaling your business, or working in a management position; your time is precious.
Time is a valuable commodity and can be your best friend or worst enemy—depending on how well you’re able to manage it! Maximizing how much work you can get done in a typical workday can improve your productivity and help your business grow. It can also help to decrease your stress.
Besides workplace inefficiencies, entrepreneurs and workers typically waste at least 30 minutes per day. Overall, 31% of workers waste at least 30 minutes each day, while another 10% waste three hours or more. Lost productivity costs businesses more than $550 billion annually. Another startling statistic shows that the average employee only spends two hours and 53 minutes per day working.
When productivity is low, executive-level employees and business owners have to pick up the slack which is why executive leadership averages a longer workweek than non-management level employees. Creating an efficient work environment and improving productivity is an important step toward improving the health of your business.
One technique that many entrepreneurs use to claim back more time in their day is known as “task batching.” Task batching is a way to ensure that tasks are done in an efficient manner—and no, we’re not talking about cookies here!
But what is batching and how do you utilize it properly?
Let’s find out now.
What Is Batching?
Batching is a workplace efficiency method that involves grouping similar tasks together. This enables you to complete them quickly; without time wasted with interruptions or switching to other tasks. Batching can not only improve productivity, but also increase concentration, and reduce time-consuming mistakes as well.
Organizing similar tasks together increases efficiency because it allows you to focus on a specific task. While multitasking can be a valuable skill and can work in some cases, but often, all that switching back and forth can take its toll; making tasks take even longer to complete. Henry Ford’s creation of manufacturing assembly lines is a concept based on batching. Assigning employees to solely focus on one specific task improved productivity, increased profits, and decreased expenses.
When you’re batching it, you simply have to focus on completing the same or similar tasks continuously until the work is finished. This allows you to get into a rhythm and decreases the amount of time you spend on each individual task. It takes effort for your brain to shift between multiple different tasks. But focusing on only one allows you to focus much more easily.
Think of it like your old laptop, humming away trying to switch between tasks. We humans operate in a similar way!
Batching can be utilized to complete a wide range of tasks, from reading and sending emails to uploading financial data and receipts. The best way to start batching tasks is to organize your typical workday into a handful of categories. Use common sense when you choose what topics you want to organize.
Computer oriented tasks, like checking emails or updating your website, are obviously related. You can then add your batching tasks to your calendar and set a daily schedule that focuses on addressing each batching topic one-by-one.
What Tasks Can Be Batched?
So let’s dive right in: Which tasks can be batched?
One of the great things about batching tasks is that as long as the tasks are similar, you can organize them into the same categories. They don’t always need to be exactly the same. The best way to implement a batching method is to make a shortlist of the main tasks or topics that you complete each day. This list can include things like responding to emails, returning calls from the previous day or updating content on your website or social media pages.
Batching is most effective when you schedule your tasks for specific times throughout the day. For example, you can reserve the time slot from 9:00 am to 10:00 am to review and catch up with your emails. Creating a set schedule also helps you get into a routine, which helps train your brain to be more productive.
If you regularly update your website or social media pages, consider blocking out a set period of time every day to post new updates and respond to messages and comments. Other common tasks that you can batch include your company’s financial reports. Since it’s important to make sure you keep good financial records, batching these things together and creating a set time to complete them is a great way to save time and operate your business more efficiently.
Benefits of Batching Tasks
Among the many major benefits of batching tasks is that it improves work quality, decreases wasted work hours, and reduces stress. Running a business is time-consuming as it is. Batching helps you maximize your workday while preventing mental fog. Having to switch between multiple tasks can wear you down mentally; after all, it’s estimated that it takes the brain about 15 minutes to regain focus and to concentrate on a new task.
Another downside of attempting to multitask is that you often end up not accomplishing all that much. You know that feeling when you get to the end of the day and can’t remember what you’ve done? Yeah. Batching can help to prevent that, so you’ll have a much clearer idea about what you did, and whether you were actually productive.
Conversely, batching allows you to check off items on your daily to-do list, which is a tangible sign of progress. When you zero in on completing a group of tasks, you are able to get them completed faster. When you successfully start implementing a batching process, you are less likely to experience physical and mental fatigue or procrastinate.
Many times, batching tasks cuts down on distractions. When you have a list of items to complete and are in a groove, it’s easier to knock them out all at once instead of constantly taking breaks and picking up the task later. Batching tasks is one of the best ways to cut down on wasted time during the workday.
Now a few tips for batching effectively.
1. Take Breaks
If the batching list is more time consuming than 45 minutes, consider implementing the Pomodoro Technique. The Pomodoro Technique is a simple yet highly effective batching method. To start, write down and prioritize the tasks you need to get done. Grab a timer or use the stopwatch feature on your phone and work in 25-minute intervals. For every 25 straight minutes you work, take one 5-minute break. You can repeat this cycle 3 to 4 times before taking a 20-30-minute break. The key to using the Pomodoro Technique is making sure you spend the 25-minute work intervals completing similar tasks.
Remember that your productivity and efficiency will increase once you regularly practice batching, so don’t be discouraged if you start slow. Regardless of what type of batching method you use, taking breaks at least every 25-30 minutes is key. Short breaks help keep your mind fresh and focused and prevents fatigue and mental fog.
2. Reward Yourself: Give Yourself Incentives
Positive reinforcement is a great way to motivate yourself to complete grueling or mundane tasks. Many times, batched tasks aren’t exactly exciting or fun. Creating incentives helps you remain positive, focused, and energized. Even a small reward like a snack or a short break allows your mind to associate completing a task with a tangible reward. Alternately, give yourself 15 minutes to browse headlines or watch crazy YouTubes. Whatever it is, save it for when you’re done with those tasks.
The brain’s pleasure and reward center is why incentives are so effective. When you receive something you want after completing a job you dislike, your brain associates the achievement with positive thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
When you become bogged down with work, knowing that you will be rewarded for your efforts in a certain amount of time can help you push through. You can schedule your batching tasks before your lunch break to create a pleasurable incentive when you reach your productivity goals.
3. Make Sure You’re Batching the Right Tasks
Make sure you’re batching similar tasks. The reason batching is effective is because it allows your mind to focus solely on a specific task and prevents multi-tasking. Jumping between polar opposite jobs defeats the purpose of batching.
While some tasks may seem similar, such as monitoring your social media pages and writing content for your website, it’s important to choose tasks that fall within the same category. Social media content usually requires a different mind frame than writing a new blog post, and should be batched accordingly.
4. Leave a Buffer
Remember that unexpected things will still pop up throughout the day. Don’t let an unplanned meeting or office emergency discourage you from using batching methods. Flexibility and adaptability are key characteristics of successful business owners, executives, and entrepreneurs. You should expect variables throughout your day and be willing and able to adapt.
It’s also important to be realistic about the amount of time you’ll need to complete your projects. Make sure you leave space between tasks so you have a buffer for those unexpected contingencies. In other words, plan for the unplanned.
5. Consider Outsourcing Some Tasks
Finally, and most crucially, a key part of operating a successful business is knowing what jobs you can handle and which ones are likely to go whooshing over your head. Everybody has a unique skill set. You may be great at pitching to prospective clients but struggle with marketing emails. If you are practicing a batching technique and notice that a specific category is taking up too much of your time, outsourcing the work to a virtual assistant is a great option.
It’s important not to spread yourself too thin. As you no doubt have seen for yourself before, taking on too many jobs can decrease your effectiveness—especially if you’re devoting an excessive amount of time to a field that isn’t your specialty. Sometimes it just takes too much time to learn a new skill while juggling your daily workplace demands.
Outsourcing creates a cost-effective, time-saving approach. It allows you to focus on contributing to management and executive-level duties instead of administrative functions. Devoting too much time to non-essential tasks is a tremendous disservice to your business. Business owners and executives have a unique skill set that focuses on increasing profitability. Spending too much time on social media campaigns or on bookkeeping duties hurts your business because you won’t be able to focus on areas of your business that require your attention; like scaling your business, expanding into new markets, or implementing processes.
Common Batching Mistakes to Avoid
If you are noticing that task batching isn’t saving time, there’s a chance you’re making one of the following mistakes.
First up, you could be spending too much time on lists. Creating to-do lists is essential for creating and maintaining an effective batching method, but don’t spend too much time on them.
For example, instead of writing lengthy paragraphs outlining every client you need to call or email, create a simple and short sentence like “return calls, emails, and customer inquiries.”
It is also important to make sure that you have a calm and productive environment to work in. Trying to complete tasks in a busy conference room or in a loud area of your office is simply going to create unnecessary distractions. Try to complete your tasks in a quiet setting like your office.
Improperly grouping tasks is another pitfall many entrepreneurs and small business owners encounter. If you notice that you still feel like you’re multitasking when you’re actually trying to batch, consider reorganizing your tasking topics.
Another common issue is failing to have everything you need to complete your tasks accessible when you start batching. If you are doing your financial reports, make sure that you have all the documents that you need before you start. Tired of pens going missing when you need to jot things down quickly? Buy a 100-pack of pens and leave them in your desk. Problem solved. The key is to find ways to increase your efficiency, not inadvertently create time-consuming routines that’ll suck the life out of your day. Not having the proper supplies causes you to deal with constant interruptions, which prevents you from focusing on the task at hand.
With batching it, the same principles apply. This tool can be a great way to save time, but if you find that it’s not working for you, refine it or chuck it out. Whatever it takes to help you operate at your best and most efficient.
Looking to save time? Operate efficiently? Claim back just 20 minutes of your time? Batching just might be the tool for you. On the other hand, it might not be. Many entrepreneurs swear by it, others don’t.
The best way to save time is to find a more efficient way to complete your daily work. Find a solution that works for you, and then use it again and again.
I want to know what you think! How do YOU save time? Have you found an efficient way to cut through the mundane? Share your thoughts!