A typical workday is full of distractions from email notifications, chatty co-workers, and even our inability to focus. For most of us, we flip back and forth between projects, convinced we’re productive and maybe even multi-tasking. It’s how we get through the day, chiselling away at our to-dos all at the same time.
In reality, you’re not accomplishing nearly as much as you think you are. Instead of multi-tasking, you’re rapidly switching between tasks — which breaks your focus and exhausts your brain as it tries to play catch up. This is where task batching comes in to help alleviate the stress and keep you engaged.
What is task batching
Task batching is a scheduling system that organises your day by the kinds of tasks you’re performing. The idea is to dedicate a block of time to checking emails and making client calls and only performing those tasks once or twice, instead of checking emails and making calls throughout the day.
Performing these tasks at the same time prevents them from interrupting your workflow and allows you to focus on two similar, low-effort tasks at the same time. This is particularly beneficial when you’re grouping high effort work, like analysing sales reports and budgeting.
It takes your brain some time to adjust to a new task and focus, so staying in the zone and eliminating disturbances allows you to get more done and with less stress.
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Benefits of task batching
Improve your focus
The average person switches tasks 300 times a day, which helps make distractions a habit. The ability to focus is a skill that task batching helps develop so you can dedicate more time to your to-dos and less time to emails and trying to multitask.
Reduce your stress
To task batch effectively, you have to begin by breaking large projects down into specific tasks. This way large tasks are less intimidating, and you can more accurately plan the time it will take you to complete each smaller task. Knowing what your plan is for a week helps keep you on track and allows you to clock-out at the end of the day.
Organising your day by task reduces the time you spend switching focus and improves your workflow efficiency. Plus, when you schedule by task you can more effectively take into account when you’re most and least productive, making the most of your time.
How to task batch
1. List your to-dos
The first step to building any schedule is knowing what needs to be on it. List everything you want to get done that week, including smaller daily items like responding to emails and organising your files.
2. Simplify large projects
Break projects down into specific tasks, and then you can see every step and accurately plan the time and resources needed. It also helps to reduce the stress a looming project can cause and prevents you from procrastinating.
3. Label each task by function
Go through the tasks and begin to build categories like communicative, meeting, high-focus, brainstorming, and more. Then you can begin to assign these categories to each of your tasks so you know what kind of effort and thought processes they require to complete.
4. Group your tasks
Now that you have your tasks labelled, it’s time to group them by their function. Low effort tasks like emails and organisation will go together, then high-effort tasks like research and writing will match. Colour coding these tasks can be a bonus for your organisation.
5. Build your schedule
Now it’s time to consider when you’re super productive and when you tend to get distracted. Prioritise your most important and high-focus tasks to the hours you work best, and save cleaning your office for the afternoon slump. It’s also a good idea to let your team know not to contact you during your high-focus hours.
Task batching is a great productivity tool for bringing organisation and structure to your day, but it is a skill that needs practice. As you get into the habit of focusing for longer periods and you get a better grasp of time costs, you’ll see an improvement in your efficiency, and you’ll reduce daily fatigue and stress.
Briana is a content creator with interests in finance and career development. When she’s not at her desk, you can find her out with her rescue dog, Miko, or reading in her garden. To connect with her, email us at email@example.com.
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Reposted with permission on Leaderonomics.com.