Is time getting the best of you? Do you want to work less while maintaining your current income? If you’re nodding along, then batching will be your new favorite thing.
One of my favorite productivity hacks is batching. Batching is the process of grouping similar work together and completing it in one sitting. Batching your tasks can free up your time and mental energy.
As a freelancer, here’s how to realize the benefits of batching!
Find your batchable tasks
Think about the types of tasks you do. Which tasks do you need to do frequently? Which tasks are similar in nature? Your batchable tasks can be for the same client or for multiple clients.
If you can’t think of any tasks that you could batch off the top of your head, ask yourself these questions:
- Do you use the same program/application/software for several clients?
- Do you write content for multiple clients?
- Do you invoice clients at the end/beginning of each month?
How to batch
- Gather all similar tasks
- Figure out what you should work on first
- Complete all like tasks before moving on to another category of tasks
For example, if you write copy you could batch it in the following ways:
- Complete all first drafts before making any edits or doing read-throughs
- Write all call-to-action prompts in one sitting
Benefits of batching
1) Your brain loves batching
- Batching forces you to single-task
Our brains aren’t very good at multitasking, but we’ve tried to force it on them for a long time. Your brain will thank you if you can stay on one task for a few hours. It may get a bit boring, but you’ll get faster at doing the task and stay more productive.
- Batching reduces stress and anxiety
Every time you open a new browser window and follow a new whim, you get a tiny dose of dopamine. It may feel awesome at the time, but doing it throughout the day can cause you to feel flustered, disorganized and overwhelmed. Staying on one task gives your brain space to relax.
- Batching helps you enter the flow state
If you keep doing one thing eventually you’ll reach the elusive flow state where your work seems easy and effortless and you’re completing things more quickly than you normally do. This is especially true for writing or any other creative pursuit.
2) Batching saves time
Even though it seems like the seconds it takes to open a browser window, login to a program, refresh your email or check your Facebook feed don’t add up – they sure do! A minute here or there ends up being hours of unproductive time at the end of the week.
Doing your work in batches saves time logistically as well as mentally. You don’t have to get focused and refocused on the same task several times. You complete them and move on to something new.
3) Batching increases energy
Jumping in and out of work wastes your energy. It can take an average of up to 25 minutes to refocus on a task once you’ve been interrupted. In an office setting, you don’t have much control over other people interrupting you, but in any setting you have control over interrupting yourself with distractions.
Batching your work and staying focused will give you a jolt of energy and pride once you finish a group of tasks.
Batching for increased productivity
Some things we do on a daily basis are complete time wasters. The greatest one of all is email. Batching the tasks that tend to waste time is a great way to increase your overall productivity.
- Answering all emails at set times per day
Three times per day, set your timer for 30 minutes, get in your inbox and clear it out. Answer all emails, delete all junk, forward, and delegate. Once you’re done, do another task. Don’t check your email again until the next designated time. If you use less than 30 minutes on this task, great! Move on to your next task or take a break with your remaining time.
- Writing all blog posts in one sitting
Once you’ve figured out a blog posting schedule, hunker down and write all of that week or month’s blog posts in one sitting. Even though the topics will differ, the process will be the same. Doing this without interruption could help you get ahead in your content planning.
My habit of writing for 30 minutes per day has helped me plan out and write content through August 2017.
- Doing all the work you have in one program
Whenever you go to a website or login to a program, take a moment to list all the tasks you need to do in that website or program. Then do them all in one sitting. This saves the time of opening the program, logging in and getting set up and it also keeps you in a state of flow. For example, if you need to edit images in Photoshop for several clients, stay in the program and edit all items before moving on to another task.
- Scheduling/posting/moderating social media
If you are moderating several Facebook groups, set up a schedule for responding. Go into each group, answer questions and comments then stay out until your next designated check-in time. And, turn off notifications! You don’t need to be interrupted by someone asking what time a store opens while you’re doing a batch of unrelated work.
Keep in mind: batching goes beyond a single client’s tasks.
When batching you want to think about the big picture. What else could you be doing in the same vein for someone else? Once you get used to batching and realize the benefits, you won’t want to work any other way.