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Could Time Batching be the Solution?

2020 is behind us but life hasn’t changed. We’re still dealing with the pandemic which, for many of you, means you’re working from home and juggling more things than ever before. I’m coaching a client struggling with the challenges of working from home. So when I came across this article “How to Improve Productivity with Time Batching” by Thomas Insights – an Industrial Manufacturing Newsletter, I read it with her in mind.

I decided to share it with you because I know she’s not the only one having trouble adjusting to working from home.

Some of the strategies described in the article will be familiar to you, I’ve suggested them before, and some may be new to you but no matter, new or familiar, they’re worth considering if you’d like to be more productive in your work or personal life.

(I will add my comments in blue.)

“How to Improve Productivity with Time Batching”
by Thomas Insights

“If you find yourself easily distracted, unable to focus on the task at hand, or struggling to meet deadlines, time batching could be a real help.

Time batching is an effective time-management technique that helps you to better manage your working day and improve productivity by eliminating external distractions.”

“The theory behind time batching is to group tasks that are similar in nature and allocate a set amount of time in which to complete them.”

It’s the time management version of like things together.

“Imagine your to-do list looks something like this:

*Catch up with John about a project you’ve both been working on.
*Clear out your email inbox.
*Respond to 14 emails.
*Catch up with John about the presentation you’re due to deliver together next week.
*Send out invitations for next month’s team-building activity day.
*Follow up with three of your suppliers regarding shipment delays.

It would be highly inefficient to first meet John about the project, then reply to four emails, go back to John again to discuss the presentation, chase one supplier, then send another couple of emails, and so on… By grouping these tasks into similar activities instead, you’ll find you can work with increased efficiency and purpose.”

“What Are the Benefits of Time Batching?”

“Time batching improves concentration, productivity, and attention to detail.

Many people pride themselves on their ability to multitask, but numerous studies show that flitting between different tasks that require focused attention wastes a huge amount of time.

Multitasking can result in as much as a 40% drop in productivity and a 10% drop in IQ. A study of Microsoft employees found that each worker took an average of 15 minutes to refocus on brain intensive tasks. The New Yorker reported that 98% of people focus better when they tackle a single type of task.

Time batching also helps to build a structure and routine to your working life. This can make the busiest day or the biggest challenges seem more manageable — ultimately reducing workplace stress and keeping you calm.”

4 Steps to Effective Time Batching”

“Step One: Write Your To-do List”

“Before you can begin time batching, you’ll need to develop a comprehensive to-do list.

Take the time to write a detailed list of your upcoming projects and deadlines, as well as every mundane task you complete on a weekly or day-to-day basis. Anything that takes up time during your working day should appear on the list.”

“Step Two: Group Your To-do List into Batches”

“Once you’ve completed your to-do list, it’s time to sort the items into batches that will allow you to give complete focus to a particular group of tasks.

Your tasks will typically fit into one of two categories:
Shallow tasks — These are quicker, easy tasks that require little energy.

Deep tasks — These are more intensive, bigger tasks that demand focus for a greater length of time.”

“You’ll probably be able to churn through several shallow tasks in one sitting. Your work on a deep task, however, may need to be broken down into several focused sessions which means your targets will be goal-oriented rather than being about completing an entire task in one sitting.”

“Step Three: Set Attainable Batching Goals”

“Allocate a set window of time for each batch of tasks, being mindful not to underestimate how long you can focus for or how long each batch will take to complete.

You can always divide a batch into separate sittings. For example, if you have 30 emails to read and respond to, you might manage 15 emails in two 20-minute time slots.

You could use your smartphone stopwatch to keep track of time batches, or check out Pomofocus, a simple timer app based on the Pomodoro Time Management technique.

Once you’ve decided how to divide your time, log all tasks into a workflow program or your calendar. It’s helpful to have a visual representation to encourage you to stick to your schedule.”

“Step Four: Get Rid of Potential Distractions”

“External distractions are the biggest threat to effective time batching. For this method to work, you cannot deviate from the batch on which you are currently focused.

You might need to turn off email notifications while you’re focusing on a specific task, set your devices to Do Not Disturb mode, close windows on your computer, or put on headphones so you’re not distracted by workplace — or household — noise.”

If you’re working in 15-20 minute batches just about everything can wait 15 minutes for your response.

“It’s also important to inform your colleagues that you’re time batching so they know when and why you won’t be available and not to disturb you.”

I know you think this is easier said than done but give it a shot. There’s no time management method that works 100% of the time. If you find a method that works 75% of the time take that as a win. You have to be flexible with this. As always I believe in making the system your own so if you need to tweak these suggestions do it.

You may want to read my blog post “How to Prioritize Your To-Do List” where I list 5 steps to help you set priorities. It’s easier to avoid distractions when you’re clear about the importance of the task.
If you’d like my help please reach out to me.

603-821-0736, or 

Happy New Year!


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