How To Use Batching To Increase Productivity
If simply reorganizing your current workload could gain you an additional 2 hours a day, wouldn't it be a no-brainer to do so? From the first time "batching" was introduced to me, I have been fascinated with the return on time that comes with doing nothing more than dedicating blocks of time to similar tasks. No extensive steps, no special training, and no added burdens. If you follow the below short techniques in organizing and completing your tasks, you will receive one of the lowest cost returns you have gained in a while.
What Is Batching?
In essence, batching is a time management technique that groups similar tasks and dedicating undistracted time blocks to complete these groups in single sittings.
Similar - As you are looking at your tasks look for the following:
- Simple repetition of an identical task. An example for me would be reviewing job files and closing them out. Literally looking at the same indicators over and over and going through the same process on each.
- Similar resources. Some tasks might not be as identical but require the same mental or physical resources. For example, pricing jobs may require different documents from architects/engineers, multiple contacts for assembling bids and changing gears between each project. However, these follow the same process and use the same internal documents. So when grouped, one is not having to fully reset as they would on totally different tasks. This saves on set up time and cuts down on the mental fatigue of switching from tasks to task.
- One overall example of the two above batching types is in my billing process. I complete all billing on one day a week. The process and resources I use are the same on each project. After all billing is complete, I print all invoices in one run. I have my secretary notarize applicable documents and place each invoice in a separate envelope in one setting. So her time on these repetitious tasks is saved as well. The opposite of batching would be to bill each project each day as it is completed. This would require a separate set up daily for each of the above described processes, and since I'm not batching I should go ahead and answer all phone calls and emails while I'm at it, right? Can you see how quickly this one task can go from a short block to wasting multiple hours over the week?
The lack of distraction is critical. How many can relate with the feeling of working hard all day, jumping from tasks to task, responding to emails, answering questions ...etc and still at the end of the day have several large projects looming over you. You put in a hard days work right? What happened? Distractions are the exact opposite of batching, and they are subtlety eating your time, effort, and mental capacity. Read more on the trap of multitasking and its effects here. For now, know that to let distraction and opposing tasks intercede on your batching will reduce your output by as much as 40%.
Batching - Quick Start Guide
- Maintain and review your to do list
- Define and group similar tasks based on section above criteria
- Approximate amount of undistracted time required to complete a batched task group.
- Side note: if it is a task that is done on a regular bases (i.e. billing, pricing, certain reports...etc) look at batching further by picking a single day a week to accumulate more of the same work before completing
Final tip on prioritization (that we have mentioned before) is to put your most important tasks earliest in the day while you are fresh. When looking over your list, ask yourself which of your tasks when complete would make the others easier or maybe even unnecessary. If you are having a tough time defining which of your tasks are most important, read this article for additional clarity.
On average, I save myself around 2 hours a day by not having to constantly open and close multiple documents and switch between tasks. A harder metric to quantitate, but is just as important, is the amount of mental fatigue I save myself in not have to flip my brain back and forth starting and stopping multiple tasks. Batching truly is the smartest way to work and proof will be in the moments where you see yourself becoming less and less scattered and crossing whole blocks of tasks off your list.
- As always, the hardest part to any improvement process is getting started. Dedicate yourself to try batching for one week. I guarantee at the end of that week you will be wondering why you have allowed yourself to work any other way, and further you will be finding more and more ways to batch your work for the most effective way to complete it.
- This post is complemented by our previous article on multitasking. I encourage you to take advantage of 10 minutes worth of reading that can make up multiple hours returned to you daily!
Many of the principals presented in this article are those set forth inside The Manager’s Journal and an elaboration of those same ideals. If you enjoyed this post please feel free to share with others, like our Facebook and LinkedIn pages, and continue on to our website to try out The Manager’s Journal for yourself!
Blessings In Your Endeavors,