I’ve been working from home with little kids around for over 6 years now, so you could say I’ve learned a thing or two about what does (and doesn’t ) work.
Today I’m going to share with you a task batching technique that was one of the best things I have done for myself, my business, and my kids, too!
Bottom line: when it comes to working from home, freelancing, or even just setting up your own schedule, learning to batch your work will have a huge impact on how much you can accomplish in the same amount of time.
I don’t know about you, but I am always down to work smarter and not longer or harder.
Can I get an amen?
The Benefits of Batching Work:
Task batching means that you allocate blocks of time to certain tasks and focus intently on those blocks without switching to other tasks. It feels awkward at first, especially when you can’t stop thinking about checking your email again or that flash sale on your favorite jeans, but over time, you’ll really start to see how it helps everything run more smoothly.
I didn’t batch work for a long time and so my work time was like multi-tasking on overdrive. Seriously, I was always doing 3 or 4 things at the same time and took pride in my ability to manage all of those things.
But, that kind of scattered workflow is exhausting. I would step away from work to go play with my kids and my brain would be tired from having too many tabs open for several hours.
That’s when I started researching how to be more productive and started trying out different types of task grouping. Over time, it really had a profound impact on how much I could accomplish and how much less stressed out I was when I stepped away from my desk, which resulted in better work too (shocker!).
To sum it up – batching work can help you accomplish more with less, and here’s how:
- Increases focus, by limiting how much you are doing at one time
- Improves work quality, since you are not getting constantly interrupted or switching tasks
- Reduces stress, because you will feel more focused and productive
- Increases productivity, so you can get more done with the same (or less!) amount of time!
So, let’s talk about some ways that you can batch your work and slay the day!
Tips for How To Batch Your Work:
1. Establish Work Blocks:
Start by making a list of the tasks you do every day. For example, as a blogger and copywriter, my list might look like this:
- Write blog posts
- Make Pinterest pins
- Schedule social media
- Respond to emails
- Negotiate with brands
- Send proposals to prospective clients
- Take client calls
- Edit and update old blog posts
- Write for clients
I may not do all of these every day, but you can see that the work typically falls under a few categories:
- Blog writing
- Graphic design/Social Media Scheduling
- Phone calls
Pretty much everything I do can be broken up into these tasks. Then, you want to look at your main tasks and think about how much or what percentage of your day you typically are doing those things.
For me, the bulk of my time is writing time, with checking/responding to emails (which includes sending proposals, negotiating, etc.), and doing graphic design. I don’t have client calls every day anymore.
So, when designing blocks of time, I would want to give myself more writing time each day, a couple of shorter email blocks, graphic design time and then a few blocks of call times a week for client calls. For some people it makes sense to design entire days around a block of work. I know who people who have a whole day for writing, a whole day for video creation, a whole day for photography, etc. You get the idea!
Start by taking a look at your work time and block it out, based on your personality and lifestyle.
Or, if you have no idea where to start with how much time to allocate to blocks, try out the Pomodoro Technique. It’s super simple and might help you figure out how much time each task takes you.
The Pomodoro Technique suggests working for 25 focused minutes on a task and then getting up and giving yourself a 5-minute break.
Then, you can switch tasks for the net 25-minutes or do it on the same topic.
After 4 Pomodoro sessions, take a longer break, such as a lunch break.
2. Work To Your Strengths:
There’s a lot of advice out there like, “Do your most hated task first.” Or, “Get up early and don’t check emails until lunch.”
The problem with this advice is that it may not work for you and if you force it, you’ll be on the struggle bus and be less productive.
I think you should work to your strengths. What is motivating to YOU? Do you prefer to get the worst task done first or does this make you procrastinate getting started?
If you aren’t sure how to structure your blocks, just try some different things until you find what works best for YOU.
I know for me, I am not great in the mornings, so I prefer to do things that take less creative juice, such as check emails and metrics, schedule Pinterest pins, etc. I even schedule client calls first thing, because it’s nice to listen to other people talk and brainstorm ideas while I’m waking up!
Then, I need to be full power when I write, especially if it’s for a client. I am best in the afternoon and evenings, so that’s when I do most of my writing. I’ve even been known to stay up until late to finish a project, because I’m better off this way than getting up extra early to work when I’m pretty useless.
Schedule your blocks when it works best for YOU and watch your productivity increase!
3. Focus On The Block:
Now we get to the meat. When it’s time for a block, you shut out everything else.
If you’re in a writing block, you’re not checking emails or working on anything else. Don’t schedule calls during this time and turn off any notifications on email or anything else that might distract you from working.
Of course, use your judgement here. For example, I always have my phone on in case on emergency call, but I turn the sound off.
You can set a timer that pings when the block is over or do what works for you. Some people have great success using sound apps to increase productivity. This is a great post on the science of sound and how you can use these apps to improve focus and block out distracting sounds.
One of the most powerful work batching strategies I implemented was setting aside blocks of time for client calls and blocks of time just for writing. When I was being constantly interrupted by emails and requests for calls, it took me so much longer to finish client work and they needed a lot more editing, too.
4. Write In Batches:
Writing is the most time intensive batch for me. Identify what yours is and give yourself larger chunks of time to make gains on that task.
One thing I started doing was to write in batches – but not just in time blocks. I write blocks of posts on the same subject at the same time.
So, if I wanted to research and write a post on beauty blenders, I’ll organize the content into multiple posts that I will write at the same time and then publish over a period of time.
You can schedule these out ahead of time and as you continue to create more batches of content, you’ll start to fill in your editorial calendar weeks and months ahead, making it much easier to take a day or two off here and there to live your life.
Suddenly, you’re not chained to your computer all the time, pumping out content like a machine.
For example, I wrote a series on beauty blender sponges. I researched and wrote them on the same day, then designed all the images during a graphic design block and scheduled them all out to post separately.
- 10 Incredible Beauty Blender Dupes for a Fraction of the Price
- 3 Ways to Use a Beauty Blender for Flawless Foundation
- The Dos and Don’ts of How To Clean Your Beauty Blenders
You’ll end up with this chunk of content on the same subject, which increases your authority on the subject, and keeps readers engaged – and you didn’t spend months on it.
This can work for all types of jobs. For example, when I was a teacher, I would schedule blocks of time just to grade papers and set up an area with limited distractions. I didn’t realize it back then, but I was already task batching!
5. Batch Your Life, Too!
Batching doesn’t have to stop with work tasks! You can also create blocks for family activities, other items on your schedule, and even your me time.
By looking at your time this way, you’ll be able to be more present – knowing that everything has its place on the schedule.
In fact, if you’re looking for more tips on how to live more fully in the present, check out my post on mindfulness!
Let’s Keep It Real:
Before you race off to design the task batching schedule of your dreams, let’s keep it real.
First, be patient. It may take some practice to get it right. Be patient with yourself while you figure out what works.
Second, be flexible. There are those days when a block isn’t working or something comes up. Just, make adjustments and keep going.
Third, celebrate successes. Keep track of when something really works, so you can replicate it again! These small shifts will equal big gains in productivity and energy over time!
Task batching is an awesome way to take control of your time to get more done with less stress and fatigue!
After all, no matter how much we might love our work, we all want to be able to have more work/life balance and have energy for the things that really matter.
Have you tried batching your work? How did it work for you? Tell us in the comments below!
Feel free to check out some of the other career-focused posts, such as some interviews from major bosses who have great insight on how to stay organized:
- The 21 High-Paying Sites I Use to Find Freelance Writing Jobs!
- Interview with marketing genius, Erica Garcia Thomas
- Interview with motivational speaker and life coach, Shana McLean Moore
- 10 Smart Tips for How To Improve Your Confidence!
- 10 Tips for Attending a Conference – By Yourself!
- 5 Free Tools to Make Your Side Hustle Look Legit
Have a fabulous day,