We all want to increase our efficiency, right?
Let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to get more done in a shorter amount of time?
I know I do!
Well, today I am sharing one of my favorite strategies to do just that, which revolves around the practice of batch work.
So check out my 5-step strategy below, and you’ll be streamlining your schedule, taking action, and creating incredible results in no time.
And if you really want to take things to the next level, be sure to grab my free Trello template to help you create a perfect batch work schedule with ease. Grab it here now!
Are you ready to dive in? Excellent! Just listen to the episode below, or stream it on your favorite podcasting app here:
Prefer to read? No problem! Keep scrolling for the entire podcast transcript.
LISTEN TO THE PODCAST HERE!
IN THIS EPISODE, YOU WILL DISCOVER…
- The negative impact of multitasking
- The powerful benefits of batch working
- How batch working fits in your schedule
- My 5-step batch work process
LINKS FROM THE PODCAST
- Sign up for your free strategy session with me here!
- Check out the article, “The High Cost of Multitasking” here!
- Learn more about Tailwind here! (Affiliate Link)
- Grab your free Trello board here!
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How to Increase Your Efficiency with Batch Work (Transcript)
Hey, friends! Welcome to the podcast. What’s going on with you today?
I am feeling all sorts of warm and fuzzy right now. My sister-in-law was supposed to get married this past Saturday. She had a big wedding planned – giant, actually – something like 300 people were invited.
And – like so many brides and grooms right now – she had to cancel the big wedding and reception, and – frankly – that’s hard. However, she and her fiance decided that they still wanted to get married anyway, so they did. And we were able to tune in virtually on Saturday night and watch them exchange their vows and it was so beautiful.
And once again, I am so amazed by the creativity, and the ingenuity, and the “we’re just going to make this work” attitude that I see so many people practicing right now. I think it’s remarkable and absolutely inspiring.
I feel so grateful that I was able to see the two of them make this happen and that we could all tune in virtually and help them celebrate. And now I’m even more excited for the big celebration that we will have in-person next year.
So I am feeling all the love for Sarah and Tyler. Congratulations again to the both of them. I’m feeling grateful for Zoom and the internet and technology generally. And I’m feeling inspired by this reminder that life keeps happening. And while our plans might change, we can still find the joy in each day and make each day awesome. I love that.
So anyway, that’s what’s going on with me right now. And to be honest, I don’t have any kind of segue into our topic for today. The wedding is just still fresh in my mind and I thought I’d share. So let’s just make a complete 180 degree turn into our topic for the day, shall we?
Batch Work Intro
Today we are diving into a strategy that I think many of you are going to love, because it is going to help you increase your efficiency and get more done in a shorter amount of time.
So seriously, what could be better than that?
The strategy that I’m sharing with you today is called batch-working, which is a specific way that you approach your workflow each day. Basically, batch working allows you to increase your efficiency by getting – and staying – in the zone on one particular task for an extended period of time rather than jumping from one project or task or idea to the next.
Now, before we get to the what and the how of using this strategy, however, I first want to throw a bit of data your way about why this is so important.
The Myth of Multitasking
So here’s the deal. For years, people used to pride themselves on their ability to multitask. You would hear people talk about how they got so much done by multitasking different projects all of the time. They were able to juggle multiple responsibilities simultaneously and get way more done in the process.
You’ve heard this before, right? Maybe you even used to believe this. I know I did!
But then, as we continued stretching our focus thinner and thinner across so many different tasks, people started noticing that perhaps the idea of multitasking is not as effective as it once seemed. And in fact, the reality is that multitasking is less effective than single-tasking and it results in decreased efficiency and more mistakes overall.
And in fact, when I started doing some research into the statistics of these findings, I came across some pretty surprising information. A reporter named Laura Montini found that even though multitasking is now a normal part of our modern life, research shows that it’s not only making us less effective, and increasing our number of mistakes and general stress, but it’s also costing the economy something like $450 billion dollars a year in terms of lost productivity.
I mean, that’s insane.
In fact, as a society, the average person checks their phone something like a hundred and fifty times a day, and we spend an average of 1:15 seconds on a task before we get distracted. 1:15!?
That’s unbelievable. No wonder we don’t get anything done.
And then making matters worse, it takes generally 25 minutes or more to get back into the zone and resume the project you were working on after you were interrupted.
Plus – for just a few more alarming statistics, multitaskers have a 40% drop in their productivity across-the-board, it takes them 50% longer to accomplish one single project or task. What’s more, they make up to 50% more errors in the process.
And again, I got these statistics from an article by Laura Montini, and I will link to that in the show notes in case you want to read more into this information.
Wake Up Call
Now, if you’re anything like me, you may be feeling a little bit shocked by this information. I always knew that multitasking was less efficient, but when I actually saw these numbers, it really hit home for me. And that’s what inspired me to put together this week’s podcast. Because I know that so many of us are looking for ways to save time and get things done as efficiently as possible.
Because whether you are a super successful solopreneur who is feeling incredibly strapped for time; or you have a day job while also building your side business in your spare pockets of time; or you are a busy parent who is working, and raising kids, and homeschooling; we are all looking for ways to make the most of the time that we have. We all want to complete our projects, produce incredible results, reach our goals, and also have time to enjoy the life that we work so hard to build.
And we are going to explore the strategy of batch working today to help you do just that.
What is Batch Working Specifically?
So as we dive into this subject, let’s first talk about what batch working is specifically. So basically, batch working is an approach to your workflow, which allows for highly focused blocks of time dedicated to one specific task. And the reason why this is so effective is because you allow yourself to get into the zone — you get into the mindset of the particular task you’re doing — and you stay there for an extended period of time.
You aren’t wasting time transitioning from one project or idea or task to the next. Instead, you get in the zone and you stay there. And because you get into that one particular area, you essentially get into a groove. You keep things moving forward. Your brain stays laser-focused on the thing you’re doing.
Batch Working Example
Before we dive into all of the different specifics and strategies and why this is so effective, let me give you a quick example of one of the first areas I began practicing batch working to really increase my efficiency. And this is in the area of social media posting.
For a long time, I used to write my social media posts the moment I wanted to share them. I would take the picture. I would then spend some time editing or cropping the picture. Then I would think about what I wanted to say about it and then would write the caption. I’d then research hashtags. And then I would finally post it.
Every single day, I would do the same thing. And I didn’t even really have any strategy around that. I didn’t have a certain time of day I would do this. It was more or less – shoot, I haven’t posted on social media yet today. I better think of something quick. And if you’re anything like me, creativity on demand is not always an easy feat.
So I decided to try and batch work my posts. And for me, that looked like sitting down once a week and creating 1 week’s worth of content at a time.
But it wasn’t just sitting down to create 7 posts. Instead, I got even more specific and methodic in my process. And this is what I do now.
First, I create all seven images. If you follow me on Instagram, you might remember that my feed has some slight organization to it. It’s not very complex, but I share a quote one day and an image of the next, and I alternate back and forth between those two. Also, if you’re not following me, you should be! Let’s connect. I’m @imbusybeingawesome. Come say hi.
So anyway, I first create all 7 images. And this looks like finding the quotes I want to share and creating them in Canva. It also involves me taking pictures or finding pictures on my phone that I want to share throughout the week.
After I have all 7 images ready, then I transition into the next step, which is writing the copy. So I sit down, I look at the images, and I decide what I want to write. I think about the story I want to share regarding the inspiration for the post, or the idea I wanted to explore, or the strategy or tool I want to provide. And I write all of that out.
Then, I do a quick bit of research for hashtags for each post.
And finally, I go to my social media scheduler – I use tailwind, which I will link to in the show notes if you want to check them out – and I schedule my posts for the coming week. Super simple. Check out Tailwind for yourself here! (Affiliate Link)
So rather than spending anywhere between 20 to 60 minutes each day trying to figure out what to post, what to say, what pictures to share, when to do it (not to mention all of the time I wasted transitioning from one task to the next) I instead spend about an hour or two each week getting everything done, which I then schedule and move forward. Done. And the amount of time that I save, and the increased consistency of my posting, is remarkable.
So this is just one small example, but hopefully, it gives you a taste of where we’re going with this strategy, because the truth is, you can use it for just about anything.
Batch Work Examples
You can use it for social media, of course, but you can use it as well for creating other types of content.
Maybe you’re a blogger, and you first spend time brainstorming topics for the next month. Then you research keywords for those blog posts followed by doing any research that you need to do for each post. And you actually write each post. After that, you design all of the images you want to use in each post. And then you put the individual posts in WordPress before you get into proofreading mode and then finally schedule each one out.
And you get into the zone of each stage.
Or maybe one of the responsibilities you have at work is creating and sending invoices, so you dedicate one afternoon per week solely to all of the steps involved in creating and sending invoices.
Maybe you have a day dedicated to meetings, so you schedule all of your meetings on Thursdays and save the rest of your week for other projects.
Maybe you batch work doing financial work each week, or administrative duties. You could batch work the day you run errands so you only have to go out and about once a week rather than running out to the vet one day, the grocery store the next, the dentist after that, etc.
Who is Batch Working For?
So clearly, there are so many different areas in your life where you can use this batch working strategy. And with that, I also want to suggest that this strategy is a useful one for anyone listening to the podcast.
That being said, I know many of you listening are entrepreneurs or business owners, or you work your regular day job and you’re building your side business at night and on the weekends. And for those of you who fit this description, you are absolutely going to love this approach.
Because I find that the people who have a bit more control over what their schedule looks like each day really thrive on the efficiency of batch working because they can easily group like-projects together and plow through everything really quickly. And they do this without wasting all of that valuable transition time.
But I’m telling you, EVERYONE can benefit from this strategy. It is seriously the secret sauce to using your time as efficiently as possible.
Let’s say you are a solopreneur with a quickly growing business, and right now you feel like you’re constantly putting out fires trying to keep up. But if you added in batch working, you would help give your brain clear focus and direction. You would know exactly what you want to work on each day, and you’d be thinking more clearly about what’s on the calendar for the day, which helps reduce the overwhelm and the knee-jerk reaction to try and put out one fire after another.
Or maybe at your day job you arrange to have your meetings on Wednesdays, on Tuesdays you work on team projects, on Thursdays you do client follow-ups and invoicing, etc.
And for you listeners who are building their side business, you can do the same thing with shorter hours. What will your Monday nights look like? What will you do on Tuesday evenings or Wednesday evenings? How do your Saturday afternoons look? Use this same strategy, but shift the approach to fill the hours you usually set aside for your side business and watch how much more you get done.
Or maybe you increase your efficiency with some everyday tasks that are totally unrelated to work. And one of the areas where I am working on this right now is in terms of planning dinners. Ryan and I are in a food rut, and we’re a bit sick of eating the same things over and over and over. And I’ve found myself wasting time trying to figure out what recipe sounds good to make for dinner, what ingredients we actually have on hand, how much time I have to cook that night, etc. And it’s been pretty efficient.
So over the last few weeks, I’ve taken about an hour on Saturday to plan the meals for the week ahead, find the recipes, and put in my grocery order. Then on Sunday, I spend a couple of hours meal prepping so that our meals come together quickly during the week.
So again, there are so many different areas where batch working comes into play to help you save time.
Why Is It So Effective?
Reduces decision fatigue
Okay, so clearly, I love batch working. But what makes it so amazing? Why is it such an effective tool?
Well, first of all, one thing that’s really helpful, is it helps reduce decision fatigue.
When you know exactly what you’re going to work on, and you can get into the zone and stay focused for long amounts of time, you don’t get stuck trying to decide what you should do next. You aren’t bouncing from task to task while trying to figure out what you should work on next, where you should put your focus next, etcetera. You’ve already done that ahead of time.
You know exactly what to do and when to do it.
And then adding to that, batch working also helps prevent overwhelm.
When you look at your schedule, and you know exactly what you’re going to work on for that day, chances are, you’re thinking pretty clearly.
Just compare it to when you look at a long to-do list of random tasks that you want to get done over the week. In that case, you’re probably thinking, I have no idea where to start, so you either randomly pick one thing and just jump haphazardly from one thing to the next. Or you get stuck in analysis paralysis and just feel overwhelmed because you don’t know what to do.
But when you have already created a batch-working schedule, you remove that obstacle. Instead, you can simply sit down, look at Monday’s focus for the day, and you do it.
And because you can get into the zone for an extended amount of time, you help eliminate the room for distraction. You’re thinking, “I know exactly where to start.” You’re super focused. And you move forward. Simple.
And then finally, as I’ve alluded to several times already, I love this approach because it is highly efficient. Anytime you can reduce transition time and the opportunity for distraction, you increase your efficiency. Full stop.
How to Batch Work
So how do we do this? How do we actually implement the batch work process?
Step 1: The Missed Step with Batch Working
Now, you know me. We can’t just dive into the tactical-step-by step without talking about the most important part of this strategy first – and that strategy is your mindset.
And this is especially true if you have never tried batch-working before.
Because the truth is that your brain will probably want to fight this approach pretty strongly at first for a couple of different reasons.
Your Brain is used to Distraction
First of all, your brain is used to distraction. You are used to getting the dopamine hits from checking your social media updates, clicking between your email tabs, checking the slack channel or your text messages, and all of the other distractions that you have in your normal everyday schedule.
In other words, you are used to having that rush of jumping from one thing to the next in search of that next quick burst of dopamine.
So when you deliberately eliminate that boost, and you instead focus all of your energy into one task for a longer period of time, it will probably feel uncomfortable.
First of all, that’s okay. Nothing has gone wrong here. And you’re not doing anything wrong if you do feel this kind of discomfort.
Instead, you’re just doing something new that your brain has never tried before. And as I talked about several times in other podcasts, your brain doesn’t like new things. It wants to stay with what’s safe. It wants to stay with what’s familiar. Again, that’s fine. Your brain can walk that. But you don’t have to give in to it.
You Want To Get it All Done Now
Second of all, your brain will tell you that you need to get everything done NOW.
And what I mean by this, is when you take the time to schedule your batch working process for the week ahead, and Tuesday morning rolls around and you’re supposed to create content for your business the next 4 weeks, or you’re supposed to do invoicing for clients for last week, your brain probably won’t want to do that.
It’s probably going to think, but there are so many other things that I need to do now. I need to put up a social media post. I need to answer this email now. Or I need to make a quick phone call.
Again, if your brain offers you these thoughts, that’s okay. You don’t have to listen. Remember, you have already planned out your week, and you have already Incorporated time in your schedule to answer emails, make phone calls, to schedule social media posts. It will all get done, and it’s going to get done more efficiently with this process.
So as you sit down to work, and your brain starts offering these thoughts of what you should be doing instead, question those thoughts. Do you really need to work on something else right now? Probably not.
As we will talk about in just a minute, your batch work schedule revolves around the topmost priorities that will move you forward in your business, or your job, or whatever goal you’re working toward.
So as usual, the first step in making any kind of tactical strategy work for you is to clean up your thinking around it. Make sure you’re choosing thoughts that serve you. Make sure you have powerful thoughts that generate feelings of commitment and follow-through and excitement so that you can simply sit down, do the work, and to create the results that you want.
And for those of you who have tried batch working before and you are convinced it doesn’t work for you, maybe give it a try one more time, but include this mindset component first.
And if you’re feeling stuck here or if you are having a hard time following through on the schedule that you created for yourself. If you can’t seem to stick to your schedule, or if you’re feeling super overwhelmed and you don’t know where to start, let’s talk.
Just go to imbusybeingawesome.com/freesession. We will set up a time to figure out what’s holding you back, we will clean up those thoughts, and we can explore whether we’d be a good fit to work together to help you really dial in your perfect schedule so you’re getting more productive things done – the things that will actually grow your business or move your forward on your goals – rather than focusing on what’s easy or what provides the instant gratification in the moment.
Step 2: Make Your List of Priorities
Okay, so now that we’ve talked about the most important component of batch working – your mindset – now it’s time to talk about step number two. And step 2 involves writing everything down and that you regularly do in a week. I like to make two lists – on for my work, and one for all of the things I do around the house. And I make a pretty exhaustive list.
After I’ve created that list, then I take some time to identify the most important things on that list. Chances are, there are a handful of projects or activities or tasks that you do regularly that make the big difference to help you move forward in your goals or your business or your life generally. So spend a little bit of time making a list of all of the things that you regularly do in a week, and then identify what the most important things are on that list that actually move you forward.
Step 3: Break it Down
So once you’ve identified your priorities, then it is time to break those priority items down into small steps. And these small steps are all of the different things that you need to do in order to complete that one task each week.
So if I were to break down the steps involved in creating a podcast, it would include: Brainstorming the topic, creating an outline, recording the podcast, editing the podcast, creating the visuals for the website and the cover art, writing the blog post for the podcast, writing the show notes, creating whatever resource goes along with the podcast episode, creating the landing page for that freebie, and then scheduling both the website post and the podcast release so that everything comes out on time Monday morning.
And speaking of resources, I have an awesome resource for you this week to help you put this strategy into practice. I created a Trello board that helps you set up your perfect batch work schedule, so make sure that you stay tuned until the end of the podcast so you know how you can get it.
Anyway – other examples: let’s say you’re doing social media posts for the week. That might look like taking your pictures, followed by editing pictures, then writing the copy, then researching the hashtags, and finally scheduling the posts.
Again, you can do this with so many different areas in your life. Just make sure that you are choosing your priority items. The ones that are going to move you forward – and really break them down into a step-by-step process.
Step 4: Create Your Schedule
Once you’ve broken down those important tasks into individual steps, then it’s time to create your ideal schedule. And there are so many different ways that you can approach that schedule.
A lot of people like to have themed days. So maybe Mondays are for content creation: you write all of your social media posts, you plan your blog post, you record any videos you need to do, you schedule everything in.
And then Tuesday’s might be focused on meetings, and perhaps all calls, one-on-one meetings, group meetings, anything meeting related happens on Tuesdays.
And then maybe Wednesdays are for financial and administration Stuff Etc.
But this isn’t the only way that you can approach batch working. Perhaps you divide your day into morning and afternoon batch work sections. Or maybe your mornings are reserved strictly for batch working, while your afternoons are more flexible and have room to jump from task to task because your current position requires something a bit more flexible.
Again, the name of the game is reducing your transition time. You are reducing the unnecessary back and forth between the activities that often wastes so much time.
What does this look like for me?
And to give you an idea of how this plays out for me, this is what my schedule looks like:
I generally have two full days dedicated to coaching work.
I have one full day dedicated to podcast work.
There is one day for other content creation: i.e. social media posts, website copy, or course creation, etc.
I then have a half a day that I reserved for some of the more administrative business tasks.
And then the other half of the day I leave open for what I call flextime. I leave this open for additional client calls that might come up, new projects coming down the pipeline, or just general space to breathe and explore and learn new things, network with others, etcetera.
And then again, within each of those themed days, I break down the tasks as we did earlier just streamline my efficiency. So when I am doing my social media posts, I’m doing all of the pictures first. Then I’m editing them all. I then write the copy for them all. Then I’m finding all of the hashtags. Then I’m scheduling them all. We’re not going back and forth. We are streamlining our efficiency.
And as I’ve talked about in earlier episodes – especially when we’ve explored unpredictable schedules, I also like to leave open this half-day for projects that I don’t complete earlier in the week. This gives me – again – a little bit of breathing room for if something unpredictable comes up, and I need to change my schedule. I try to keep this to the bare minimum – but it’s there if I need it.
Step 5: Start Single-Tasking
And then once you have your schedule created, and you broke and down those priority items into individual tasks, and you know exactly when you’re going to work on those each week, then it’s time to get to work. And it’s time to get to work with single-tasking. Turn off your distractions. Put on a white noise machine. Eliminate all of those additional potential distractions that are going to pull you out of the zone that we are working so hard to create.
And I promise you, once you have gotten this dialed in. Once you have discovered the schedule that works for you – and there will be some trial-and-error here; chances are you won’t have it perfect the first time – you are going to be astounded at how much more efficient you are with your time. You’re going to get so much more done, you will be working from a place of clarity rather than hustle, and you’re going to feel so much more on top of things and in control of your schedule, as you continue to check one thing after another off of your to-do list. I’m telling you, it’s amazing.
And if you’re ready to give this a try but you’re not quite sure how to get your schedule set up, I’ve got you covered. I created a free Trello Board that you can copy for your own. It is the board that I used to create my own ideal schedule, and all you need to do is click on the link, make a copy of the board, and it’s yours to create the perfect batch-work schedule that fits your priorities and projects each week. It will get you focused and moving forward in no time. So to get your own Trello board, you can click on the image below!